Bombardier owes Canadians hundreds of millions of dollars but we don’t know exactly how much because the federal government won’t tell us.
The Quebec-based company, which has asked Ottawa for $1 billion in aid to match the Quebec government’s commitment, has received $1.3 billion in “repayable contributions.”
As of this week, Industry Canada says, Bombardier has repaid $590.5 million of that. (On March 14, repayments to date totalled $584.6 million.)
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That would appear to leave close to three-quarters of a billion dollars left for Bombardier to repay. But we don’t know for sure because both the interest rate and the repayment schedule are secret.
“The amount that has been repaid to date does not reflect the total amount that will eventually be repaid,” Industry Canada spokesperson Stéfanie Power said in an email late Thursday afternoon.
The conditions on Bombardier’s “repayable contributions” from the Canadian government is considered an industry secret.
“Under the Access to Information legislation, information related to anticipated repayments, the repayment schedule and interest is third party competitive information and cannot be disclosed,” spokesperson Hans Parmar wrote in an email to Global News.
Taxpayers loaned about $543.8 million of that $1.3 billion total in the past 20 years, between April 1995 and February 2016, Industry Canada says.
In that same time period, the feds have also given Bombardier $46.2 million in “non-repayable contributions.”
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government’s still weighing whether to match the Quebec government’s billion-dollar loan to Bombardier.
The aerospace giant is going through a rough patch: The company missed its fourth-quarter earnings target; its stock dipped below $1 for the first time in a quarter-century earlier this year.
The federal government has spent almost half a million dollars on a financial assessment of Bombardier, ordered in August.
But Bombardier will cut Canadian jobs no matter how much money it gets: The company has said it will cut 2,830 Canadian jobs over the next two years.
Air Canada’s intention to buy 45 of Bombardier’s CSeries 300 planes is seen as a good sign; the bankruptcy of a major CSeries customer, less so.
The Canadian and Quebec governments have given Bombardier $467 million toward this project.
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It’s possible Bombardier will get millions from two levels of government while being sued for millions by another: Toronto is considering suing the company, which is months behind its delivery schedule for new streetcars.
The city ordered 204 new “low floor” streetcars from Bombardier for just under a billion dollars in 2009.
According to an April, 2014 schedule, the TTC says, Toronto was supposed to have 55 new streetcars in service by the end of 2015.
That projection was reduced to 27, then 14.
Last month the Toronto Transit Commission asked council for an extra $34.1 million to refurbish an aging fleet that should have been replaced by now.
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Bombardier has also had trouble with other projects: Its contract to do work on London, UK’s, subway system was “nothing short of a disaster for London,” according to a March report from the London Assembly that blames the city’s transit agency for “grossly” mismanaging the project.
While Transit for London’s strategy was “fundamentally wrong,” the report says, it is not kind to Bombardier.
“As the Mayor explained, Bombardier ‘totally stuffed it up,'” the report reads.