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432-00149 (Business and trade)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED

We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

  • THAT successive governments have said they stand with autoworkers and support the Canadian automotive industry;
  • THAT, by not taking action to address the thousands of lost jobs or by maintaining the Automotive Innovation Fund, there is no longer direct support or incentive to the industry to maintain current investments and keep jobs in Canada;
  • THAT, the federal government commissioned a Report to invest and transform the automotive industry in Canada for the future and has taken no action to date;
  • THAT auto jobs directly support thousands of spin-off jobs and investment in our local communities.

THEREFORE, we call upon the Government of Canada to develop a National Automotive Policy that will protect Canadian autoworkers and industry.

Response by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Navdeep Bains

Committed to Supporting the Automotive Sector 

With over 550,000 direct and in-direct jobs, the automotive sector is one of the largest sectors of the Canadian economy, contributing more than $16-billion to our gross domestic product. Since taking office in 2015, the Government of Canada has worked to ensure the automotive sector remains a touchstone of Canada’s economy provides well paying jobs for Canadians. As the sector continues to undergo a market-driven shift toward emissions reduction, digital communications and advanced manufacturing, the government’s forward-looking and comprehensive Innovation and Skills Plan is the backbone of its automotive strategy. The plan builds on our highly skilled workforce, abundance of natural resources and our world-class IT cluster by supporting investments in innovation and skills development. These investments support Canadians and Canadian companies in designing and building the vehicles of the future, while also working towards achieving a carbon neutral environment.

Invest in Anchor OEMs and Supply Chain

Southwest Ontario is home to five global automotive manufacturers (OEMs) operating seven assembly plants. These facilities anchor the ecosystem of suppliers, service providers, and researchers. Maintaining their presence is crucial for the long-term health of the industry in Canada.

Our government has taken decisive steps to support the Canadian automotive industry, including amending the terms of the Automotive Innovation Fund and subsequently establishing the $2-billion Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).  Through these programs, the government has made important investments in the automotive sector, modernizing automotive manufacturing plants with major upgrades to advanced manufacturing technology, securing next generation, new hybrid vehicle and battery electric vehicle production, and expanding existing and establishing new research and development centres. Since 2015, OEMs have announced investments, many supported by the SIF, of over $11-billion in Canada, further anchoring our vast supply chain.

These investments include our recent partnership with the Government of Ontario that secured Ford’s $1.8-billion investment into the Oakville Assembly Complex. In addition, as part of the collective bargaining process with Unifor, there have been announcements by both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors with proposed investments of up to $1.65-billion and $1.4-billion respectively, which strengthen existing automotive footprints, including bringing back vehicle production to GM’s Oshawa plant.

Investments by OEMs not only benefit those directly employed by the plants, but communities such as Alliston (Honda), Kanata (Blackberry QNX and Ford), Guelph (Linamar) and Blenheim (Woodbridge Foam), where the value of these investments are felt by Canadians. Taken together, these crucial investments position Canada to be a leader in the development of car of the future technologies, and provide well-paying jobs and opportunities for Canadians for years to come.

The Government of Canada continues to make a series of interconnected and complementary investments that strengthen Canada’s value proposition and encourage investments of this type.  For example, the $2-billion National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) supports improvements to the flow of goods and people across Canada and to foreign markets. Further, the Smart Cities Challenge encourages communities across the country to improve and embrace the economy of the future through innovation, data and connected technology, technologies that are the foundation of future mobility.  Finally, the ENCQOR project, has created a demonstration zone where Canadian researchers and businesses can test new technologies in Canada. 

The Supercluster initiative is another example of innovation programming that is reinforcing Canada’s leadership in key areas of competitive advantage, including advanced manufacturing, digital technologies, and artificial intelligence. Together, Canada’s innovation programming is strengthening Canada’s reputation as a nation of innovators that is ready to lead in shaping the future of mobility.  

Attract New Investment

Building on the strong automotive manufacturing footprint in Canada today, the Government of Canada has taken steps to attract new investments and provide an environment where global businesses see an opportunity to succeed and grow. The federal government has successfully negotiated the new Canada-United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) with North American partners, resulting in a trade agreement that enhances the competitiveness of the Canadian automotive industry. While the CUSMA cements relations with North American automotive partners, the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive  Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) provide Canada’s automotive sector with access to new and expanding global markets. 

Important steps have also been taken to enhance the competitiveness of Canadian manufacturing, including changes to the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance and targeted changes to corporate taxation, lowering the marginal tax rate faced by businesses in Canada compared to the United States. The Invest in Canada Hub was established to coordinate investment outreach initiatives across all levels of government, making it easier for potential investors to get the information and to connect with partners in Canada.

Green Transition

Canada is increasingly well-positioned to build the vehicles of the future – clean, connected and automated. As referenced above, there have been recent game changing announcements by Ford and FCA that will bring battery electric vehicle or plug-in electric vehicle production to Canada. Ford’s investment will allow them to pivot to the production of battery electric vehicles, marking the first time a major automaker will produce full battery electric vehicles in Canada, for Canada and the North American market, and one that the Government of Canada expects will shape and influence production and adoption of EVs in Canada in the coming years. Ford’s investment will also bring battery pack assembly to Oakville, another first for Canada and Ontario. FCA has announced its intention to invest in a state-of-the-art multi-energy vehicle platform at the Windsor Assembly Plant that will enable the assembly of both Plug–In Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).

To support the transition to a low-carbon transportation system, the Government of Canada has set targets for sales of zero-emission vehicles in Canada, including 100 percent of new vehicle purchases being zero emission by 2040. Budget 2019 provided $300-million, for a federal purchase incentive program, to enable more Canadians to buy zero-emission vehicles (iZEV). Since that time, more than 60,000 Canadians have used this program to support their own purchase of a zero-emission vehicle (including battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles).

To support zero-emission vehicle adoption, the Government of Canada continues to deploy a network of charging and refuelling stations, including planned investments of $300-million in areas where Canadians live, work, and play.

Furthermore, a carbon-neutral future with electrified transportation will also entail a “mines-to-mobility” approach that highlights Canada’s competitive edge as the only nation in the western hemisphere with an abundance of cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel, the minerals needed to make next-generation electric batteries.

Technology Driven

The government’s support of technology adoption among emerging and established automotive businesses and promoting automotive excellence in Canada is a key part of its strategy for the sector. The SIF provides funding to Canadian corporations, including the automotive sector, to ensure Canada is a top destination for businesses to grow and invest. The $950-million Supercluster Initiative, including the Advanced Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence and the Digital clusters, are integral to the traditional automotive sector in Ontario and the technology clusters across Canada transforming the automotive sector. The Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy provides $125-million to develop Canada’s global leadership in AI, including increasing the number of researchers, building centres of excellence and supporting national research.

Canada has an opportunity to leverage its innovation programming to invest in areas of advantage, ensuring that Canadian automotive companies are well-equipped to advance strategic areas that are shaping the future of clean mobility.

Canadian industry is poised to take a leadership position in combining a world-class workforce with ‘Internet-of-Things’ technologies and AI to create ‘smart’ factories and cyber-connected global value chains.

Skills and Talent

Building back better means, among other things, strengthening workers’ futures by connecting them to employers and good jobs, to grow and strengthen the middle class.

The Government of Canada’s efforts to maintain a leadership position will entail anticipating needed future skills, upskilling/reskilling as well as immigration policies to support those needs. In anticipation of potential dislocation and changes in jobs resulting from the integration of people and technology, the federal government is working to develop pathways for workers in transition to ensure they can actively participate in other parts of the sector, and support automotive businesses in leveraging a highly skilled workforce to seize opportunities for growth and innovation. At the same time, the Global Skills Strategy, along with the International Education Strategy, make it easier for companies to bring in highly skilled workers who will contribute their talents and networks to our efforts to build back better for everyone.

Looking Ahead

The Government of Canada’s plan is producing results. Plant and infrastructure investments are securing well-paying jobs and supporting the automotive sector’s transition to lower emissions.  Collaboration between government, industry, and academia is supporting R&D and innovation to cement Canada’s technology leadership. A highly skilled workforce combined with leading edge infrastructure and global trade agreements are ensuring Canadians can sell and compete on the global stage. Taken together, this strategy is ensuring Canada’s automotive industry plays a leadership in the future of mobility.

Presented to the House of Commons
Brian Masse (Windsor West)
October 23, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00149)
Government response tabled
December 7, 2020
Photo - Brian Masse
Windsor West
New Democratic Party Caucus
Ontario

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