Ford and Trudeau Governments Blame Each Other Over Loss of Bombardier Jobs Instead of Working To Find A Solution

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Ford and Trudeau Governments Blame Each Other Over Loss of Bombardier Jobs Instead of Working To Find A Solution

The Trudeau Liberal and the Ontario Ford government are busy blaming each other over the loss of 550 Bombardier jobs in Thunder Bay instead of working to find a solution for the workers. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the federal Liberal government are locked in a war of words over who is responsible for hundreds of layoffs at a Bombardier plant in the northwestern Ontario city of Thunder Bay.

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, who represents the area in Parliament, fired the first shot Wednesday morning with a news release saying the Ontario premier "sat on his hands and made empty promises" about projects that would have given the workers more things to build and helped to stave off the 550 layoffs — roughly half of the plant's total workforce. The plant makes vehicles for the commuter rail GO Transit network and the Toronto Transit Commission. Bombardier has said the layoffs are necessary because contracts for the GO and TTC vehicles will come to an end in a few weeks' time. It also cited Buy America provisions for infrastructure projects in the U.S., which demand products be made stateside, as another source of its troubles.

Ford said the province has a $28.5-billion plan to expand transit but Ottawa hasn't come through with a financial commitment of its own to support that work. In addition, Ford said he moved up a contract for GO Transit trains worth some $130 million to help keep the plant open. "I haven't seen hide nor hair from the federal government," Ford said. "Where is their money? They've done absolutely nothing to support these people in Thunder Bay. We have a plan sitting there that can keep these people employed."

Vic Fedeli, Ontario's minister of economic development, said Hajdu has been "missing in action" for her constituents. "While Ontario has met with Bombardier, Unifor, and offered to purchase $100 million of vehicles from the plant in the last month, where was Minister Hajdu?" he said. "She's been missing in action, not engaging with her provincial counterparts, and instead blaming everyone but herself and the federal government." ...

But Ottawa maintains infrastructure cash has been on offer for months and the Ontario government simply hasn't come through with an actual, fully formed proposal to tap federal funds for Toronto transit initiatives. ...

The Ford government, elected in June 2018, submitted a list in May of 49 infrastructure projects in northern and remote areas that it would like to see built with federal support. The Ontario government also has sought federal money to begin work on Toronto expansions like the proposed Yonge-North subway extension, the Ontario Line (relief line) project in Toronto's east end, improvements to the highly congested Bloor-Yonge station, an extension of mass transit in Scarborough and the SmartTrack commuter line as part of Toronto Mayor John Tory's transit plan. Those projects are part of the $28.5-billion transit plan Ford cited.

But Ottawa has said that, to this point, it has not received any formal applications or the business cases required for federal review and approval of these five major initiatives.


As the war of words between Trudeau and Ford over who is to blame for the Bombardier layoffs, they are doing nothing to solve the problem. Unifor President wants them to stop and start dealing with the problem. 

As a war of words continues over who is responsible for hundreds of layoffs at a Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay, the head of Unifor on Thursday called for an urgent meeting to hammer out a plan on the way forward.

Bombardier confirmed Wednesday it would lay off 550 workers at its Thunder Bay plant effective Nov. 4. 

Unifor National President Jerry Dias said on Metro Morning Thursday that rather than pointing fingers, all parties involved should immediately come to the table to discuss solutions.

"We need to get everybody in a room, we need to take a look at what the requirements are and we need to get with it," Dias said. "There's going to be layoffs in November, there's no way around it, so the question becomes how long? Are people going to be laid off for four months, six months, a year, 18 months, two years? If people are going to be laid off for an extended time they are going to leave the community and they're going to get jobs in different industries." ...

With the layoffs looming, Dias said it's time to get beyond the blame game.

"There's a lot of blame to go around all over the place. We've been raising this with both levels of government for over a year, so the fact that the announcement of 550 layoffs comes as a shock to them, I find unbelievable," he said. "There's real solutions if we can get everybody in a room. I can't believe we're talking about the largest employer in Thunder Bay and I can't get the federal government, the provincial government, the company and myself in a room to say 'OK, what does it look like?'" ...

Dias is concerned that if the Bombardier workers are not given a definite timeline for the layoffs, they will start searching for employment and some might even leave the area.

"Clearly there has to be a plan. We know that the TTC needs 60 LRVs, we know that with the $28.5 billion-infrastructure announcement that they need all kinds of subways. We need the rockets, so there's all kinds of work to save this plant but you've got to get everybody in a room and a plan to say 'here's what it looks like,'" he said. "When the work is inevitably awarded, which it will be, you are not going to have skilled workers in order to assemble the trains. So that's why there needs to be a plan and we need to know it quickly," he said.




And  the blame game between the Trudeau Liberals and Ford Conservatives continues.

Which camp deserves the award for the most kindergarten-like behaviour remains open. With the Liberals in full re-election mode and Ford’s PCs pledged to non-co-operation with the Trudeau government, neither side deserves much admiration on this file. That, unfortunately, has become the norm in a political environment in which opponents are enemies to be derided and scorned at all costs, including the public good.