Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are rolling out half a billion dollars as part of a nearly $2-billion plan to overhaul Ford’s Oakville assembly plant to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries.
The federal and provincial governments are each chipping in $295 million to mass produce electric vehicles — and the batteries that power them — at the manufacturing plant.
It is part of a three-year agreement worth nearly $2 billion that was announced last month between the automaker and Unifor, the union that represents autoworkers in Canada.
“This shows how much we can do when we work together,” said Trudeau at a joint press conference with Ford, provincial and federal legislators, and Jerry Dias, the head of Unifor.
Ford said his government is “all in” on supporting the industry despite having faced criticism in the past for cancelling a planned rebate to encourage people to buy electric vehicles.
“We’re blazing a new trail with this announcement,” said Ford.
“Rather than bickering and arguing with each other, when we’re all pulling in the same direction, this is the result we get.”
The Oakville plant employs 3,400 Ford workers and Dias has said retooling the plant to produce electric vehicles will save 3,000 of those jobs.
From the Liberal government’s perspective, the investment will not only help secure good-paying jobs in the struggling auto sector. It hopes it will give Canada an edge in the global competition to meet what’s expected to be explosive demand for electric vehicles in the near future.
The investment is also part of the government’s commitment to invest in the transition to a clean, renewable-energy economy, with the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
It has already committed more than $300 million to create a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles across the country. And it is providing incentives of up to $5,000 off the price of purchasing or leasing electric and hybrid vehicles.
The federal government also hopes the new investment will help boost home-grown mining companies that produce the nickel and other metals used to make the batteries for electric vehicles.