An already murky future for the auto industry in Ontario has been cast further into doubt recently with news of major upgrades needed at auto assembly plants to maintain production levels.
Not long ago, Canada ranked as the fifth-largest producer of automobiles in the world. However, the industry has been rocked recently by unfavourable currency exchange rates and high labour costs, which have led automakers, including General Motors, to send production jobs elsewhere. GM, later this year, will be moving production of the Camaro from Oshawa back to Michigan.
Now news has come that an overhaul of Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton Assembly plant, where the Chrysler 300 and Dodge’s Charger and Challenger are produced, is likely to cost at least $1 billion. Chrysler has already committed to spending billions in upgrades for its plant in Windsor, which is home to its minivan production line.
The time has come for the upper levels of government to engage in a meaningful plan for our auto industry. It would be similar to the plan in Michigan, which has helped the beleaguered state regain a large portion of its automotive industry, which has often been - most notably in the case of the loss of the Camaro from Oshawa - to Ontario’s detriment.
Without meaningful long-term investment, the future of auto manufacturing in Ontario will look increasingly grim. The loss of the largest industrial property tax revenue generator in Durham Region would have significant consequences for local residents, as well as the rest of Ontario and Canada as a whole.
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