Bombardier to lay off hundreds of workers at Thunder Bay plant: Ontario minister

Executive told CBC News in June that layoffs would take effect in 4th quarter

CBC News · Posted: Jul 09, 2019 5:58 PM ET | Last Updated: 38 minutes ago

Striking workers demonstrate at Bombardier’s Thunder Bay, Ont., plant as a subway car is shipped out in 2014. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Bombardier plans to cut several hundred jobs at its Thunder Bay, Ont., facility, provincial Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney has confirmed.

“Our government has spoken to executives at Bombardier to express our disappointment that their company has taken this step,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

“We urge the company to work with the provincial government to come to an agreement that would see jobs remain at the Thunder Bay plant.”

A federal government source pegged the number of workers expected to be laid off at 550 — half of the 1,110 who who work there.

David Van der Wee, the company’s chief operating officer for the Americas, told CBC News in June that layoffs would be coming, but said the company remains committed to the Thunder Bay operation and is actively working to secure new contracts for it.

Two major contracts — one producing streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission and one producing bi-level rail cars for the Metrolinx Go Train service — will come to an end at the end of 2019, and so far, no additional contracts have been signed, Van der Wee told CBC News.

Van der Wee said the layoffs would take effect in the fourth quarter, but he did not say how many workers might be affected.

Local union president Dominic Pasqualino said he fears more job losses are on the horizon as the contracts wind down.

He said part of the blame for a lack of new contracts lies with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which has backed “buy America”-like clauses.

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.

Metrolinx has also given Bombardier the option to slow down production of the 63 remaining rail cars slated for completion by year’s end.

A Bombardier spokeswoman declined to comment.