Oshawa’s GM plant closure to have lasting impact on Canada’s economy: Unifor study

Unifor national president Jerry Dias discusses the talks with GM with the media, accompanied by Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222, left, and Greg Moffatt, GM Oshawa plant chair, at the Unifor Local 444/200 hall in Windsor on December 20, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Closing the General Motors (GM) Oshawa Assembly Plant would be a big shock to the Canadian economy, according to a recent study.

Unifor commissioned the study from Robin Somerville, director of the Centre for Spatial Economics and President of Quantitative Economic Decisions Inc. The report predicts that 24,000 jobs will be lost across Canada and provincial and federal governments will lose $1 billion a year in revenue if GM proceeds with plans to close the plant.

“We’re looking at tens of thousands of jobs and a direct hit to the GDP,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Should GM proceed with plans to close Oshawa, the economic impact would be substantial, both in the short and long term.”

The study showed that Ontario’s GDP would likely fall by $5 billion in 2020 and provincial government revenues would decline by $330 million.

Long-term data showed that Ontario’s economy would shrink by an average of $4 billion each year leading to 2030, leading to a reduction in Ontario government revenues of nearly a half billion dollars annually, and a drop in federal government revenues of just over half a billion dollars a year. The study also projects that 14,000 of the job losses would be in Ontario by 2025.

“There would be a major ripple effect that would be felt far beyond Oshawa and even Ontario,” said Dias. “We’re asking Canadians and governments at all levels to make it clear to GM that we will hold them accountable should they decide to inflict this damage by closing a top-quality and productive plant for no other reason than corporate greed.”

Unifor said GM is expected to outline its future corporate direction to investors on Friday at GM’s Detroit headquarters, which includes expansion of production in Mexico. A rally is being held at Dieppe Gardens in Windsor on Friday at 11 a.m. to coincide with the investors meeting directly across the river and to call on the automaker to keep the Oshawa plant open.

GM said the Oshawa plant will close at the end of 2019. The company said on Tuesday that union proposals to save the plant were too expensive and would hurt its competitive position.