Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Montreal Thursday, where he met with Premier François Legault as he continued his campaign-style tour of Quebec.
The pair announced a joint investment of up to $693 million help relaunch the aerospace industry which is among the top three leaders in the world representing some 60,000 direct jobs across the country.
The federal government is expected to pitch in $440 million with Quebec making up the difference.
“This financing will allow Bell Textron Canada, CAE and Pratt & Whitney Canada to continue to innovate and discover new markets,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau touted the province’s know-how when it comes to aerospace.
He harkened back to humble beginnings 115 years ago when Percival Reed made Quebec’s first plane in a garage on Ste-Catherine’s Street.
“Things have changed since then but not the desire to innovate,” Trudeau said, adding the province is one of the rare places in the world able to not only conceive and build a planes from A to Z, on top of flying and certifying them.
Trudeau also lauded the sector’s innovation when it comes to green technology.
“The world’s greenest model of airplane is the Airbus A220 — a Quebec plane,” he said, “but we have to continue to solidify our place as world leader in aerospace.”
The joint investment is expected to allow for the creation and maintenance of 12,000 “good paying jobs” and 6,200 internships for students.
It will also secure “the industry’s long-term future in Canada,” Trudeau said, “by developing green aviation projects and more clean technologies. Some of these technologies will take decades to develop so there is absolutely no time to waste.”
Legault specified it was 1,000 new jobs that would be created with annual salaries over $80,000.
“It’s excellent news,” he said
Legault pointed to the importance of encouraging students to study in the field because the creation of high-paying jobs isn’t enough in and of itself if you don’t have the qualified workers to fill those positions.
The prime minister acknowledged the aerospace sector was in need of a boost.
It was hard-hit by the pandemic as air travel ground to a halt as countries closed their borders to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The prime minister noted that the industry isn’t only comprised of big players, but smaller businesses too and announced the launch of the aerospace regional recovery initiative to help support their recovery.
“Whether it’s projects to lower your carbon footprint or support for AI solutions to better manage your inventory, we’re here to help your business innovate,” Trudeau said, adding the program was ready to receive applications as of Thursday.
The government will be investing an additional $250 million over three years countrywide in the project, with $100 million slated for Quebec.
Thursday’s announcement was well received with various stakeholders chiming in.
“We can only approve such an initiative,” said Renaud Gagné, the head of Unifor Quebec, in a written statement.
The union said the help was a long time coming with the union — which represents 3,000 members at Pratt & Whitney and CAE — making repeated calls to both levels of government for additional support.
While Gagné said the union was still examining the details of the deal he stressed the importance of not only supporting the industry but of making sure jobs stay in the province.
The Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec, an association of manufacturers, also welcomed the news.
“MEQ is delighted with the large participation of the manufacturing sector in this announcement, which will promote a green recovery, which will strengthen the Canadian aerospace sector and which will have a positive impact on several Quebec companies,” said MEQ CEO Véronique Proulx.
Like the premier, she noted the success of such an endeavour rests on having the necessary skilled labour to fill the new positions.
“Success will therefore depend on increasing the immigration thresholds, improving vocational training programs and improving the temporary foreign worker program,” she said.
The prime minister began his day by visiting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood, in a bid to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
Thursday’s visit comes on the heels of a $25-million investment for the expansion of General Electric’s LM Wind Power plant in Gaspé that produces rotor blades for windmills.
The $170-million project is expected to create 200 new jobs and maintain 380 existing jobs.
Trudeau also announced support for upgrades to the wharf at the Port of Cap-aux-Meules in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and said Ottawa is withdrawing plans to transfer the port to a lower level of government.
Trudeau once again quelled rumours of an upcoming federal election, defending himself against what many perceive as campaigning.
“In an election campaign, you make promises about what you plan to do if you are elected,” he said. “This list of projects and announcements is the job of a good government.”