Federal Liberals blast Ontario Tories over looming Bombardier layoffs

THUNDER BAY ON- April 5 The Bombardier plant

"Instead of working with the province to support Ontario's historic $28.5 billion transit expansion plan before the election, Minister Hajdu would rather play politics, than push her cabinet colleagues to approve a plan that Bombardier can bid on, build cars for, and keep good-paying jobs in Thunder Bay".

Last month, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford said Ontario's regional transportation agency, Metrolinx, extended an offer for 36 additional rail cars to Bombardier, but Pasqualino says the plant needs 10 times that amount to sustain employment. "This decision is due to the cyclical nature of our business and the ramp down of our two high cadence programs", the company said in a statement.

By contrast, a provincial rule in Ontario requires rolling stock orders to have only 25% Canadian content.

"I think they're playing politics by pointing a finger at the provincial government, the government who has provided $5 billion in relief to the business community just this year alone, and saying that somehow it's a problem of the provincial government when it's the federal government that won't commit", Fedeli said.

"We need to change this Buy America policy".

In a statement Tuesday, Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney urged the company to work with her government to come to an agreement to save jobs at the Thunder Bay plant.

Bombardier, a Canadian-based global transportation giant, has been downsizing its aerospace and railway operations for several years as it attempts to improve profitability. "Therefore, we can not fully leverage our Canadian manufacturing footprint and expertise", Bombardier said in a statement.

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It said no US work is now being done in Thunder Bay.

Ford said the province plans to bolster work at the plant by moving up a $130-million GO transit contract to build 36 more passenger rail cars, called BiLevel cars. "But the thing is, it doesn't look like things are going to go back up", he said in an interview.

The layoffs mark another point in the contentious relationship between the federal Liberals and the Ontario Tories, particularly over the billions in spending on infrastructure.

"If need be, we'll backstop it ourselves", Ford told reporters on April 10, when asked what would happen if the other levels of government refused to help fund his project.

Bombardier employees assemble the TTC's new fleet of flexity streetcars in the Thunder Bay plant in 2017.

"It should never have come to this".

Ontario is planning a historic transit investment, and the hope is that Bombardier will be a key player in that initiative, Fedeli said.

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