Ford Canada shuts Windsor auto plant as Ambassador Bridge blockade continues

Protestors block traffic at the Ambassador Bridge, linking Windsor, Ontario and Detroit on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. The demonstration in solidarity with protests in Ottawa against COVID-19 restrictions has blocked traffic into Canada on the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor and Detroit since Monday and is the the single busiest commercial crossing in North America. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nicole Osborne

Ford Canada says its Windsor engine plant is down and it was running its plants on a “reduced schedule” in Oakville on Wednesday, as anti-mandate protests at Ambassador Bridge continued.

The bridge links Windsor and Detroit, and is one of the most widely-used land border crossings connecting Canada to the U.S. But for three days, protesters have halted traffic, acting in solidarity with demonstrators in Ottawa.

In an email to Global News, Rose Pao, a spokesperson for Ford Canada, said the “interruption on the Detroit/Windsor bridge hurts customers, auto workers, suppliers, communities and companies on both sides of the border, that are already two years into parts shortages resulting from the global semiconductor issue, COVID and more.”

Pao said the company hopes the situation is “resolved quickly.”

“Because it could have widespread impact on all automakers in the U.S. and Canada,” the email read.

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Read more: Windsor officials requesting assistance as Ambassador Bridge blockade continues

What’s more, Daniel Flores, a spokesperson for General Motors Corp., (GM) in the U.S., said the company is “working closely” with its logistics providers to “mitigate any potential impacts to our production and operations.”

However, Flores confirmed that the second shift at its Lansing Delta Township plant in Michigan had been cancelled on Wednesday due to “part shortage issues.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Wright, a spokesperson for GM Canada, said the company’s Canadian plants were “still running production” on Wednesday.

Click to play video: 'Windsor asks for help to end protest' Windsor asks for help to end protest
Windsor asks for help to end protest – Feb 9, 2022

The news from the vehicle manufacturers comes as officials in the City of Windsor announced they would be requesting assistance from the provincial and federal governments as the demonstrations entered their third day.

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The demonstrations, initially aimed at denouncing vaccine mandates for truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border, have since morphed into a protest against a variety of COVID-19 restrictions and the federal government.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he has spoken to provincial and federal officials over the past 24 hours and is “formally requesting additional resources,” though he didn’t provide specifics as to what, exactly, is being requested.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was “continuing to work with our provincial counterparts and the City of Windsor,” on Wednesday.

“We need to stop the blockage of supply chains. Jobs are being affected,” he said.

Meanwhile, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair called the Ambassador Bridge a “vital artery” to the country.

“I believe the rule of law has to be upheld,” Blair said. “It is the responsibility of police to do that.”

“We’ve seen many instances here of lawbreaking here and we will not direct the police, but we certainly have every expectation they will do their job.”

— with files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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