Op-Ed on Auto Policy by MPP Lisa Gretzky and MP Brian Masse
Despite continued talk about the automotive industry at both the federal and provincial levels of government, neither has committed to a comprehensive automotive strategy. It seems both the Premier and Prime Minister are content with a piecemeal approach to the automotive sector. To demonstrate this, all one needs to do is look at a December letter by Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth, Brad Duguid, published in the Windsor Star.
In the letter entitled, Ontario’s auto industries are thriving, the Minister sidestepped both provincial and federal New Democrats’ calls for a comprehensive automotive strategy; instead trying to pass it off as if the Liberals already have one.
Just to be clear, if auto makers, unions, business organizations and opposition members are calling for a comprehensive automotive strategy, it’s obvious that one doesn’t already exist.
Perhaps most troubling was the Minister’s laundry list of automotive investments that he credited to the work of his government alone. To make such claims without mentioning the people actually working in the automotive sector is truly playing politics with people’s livelihoods.
It’s the thousands of women and men working right here in Windsor or in places like Oshawa, Oakville, Brampton and St. Catharines, who provide the world-class productivity that auto manufacturers depend on in Ontario. It’s the people working on the assembly lines, in the parts and service industry, and in research and development who build dependable, award-winning products that continue to deliver value for auto manufacturers—that’s why they continue to invest in Ontario.
Last year, auto workers fought hard to ensure products continue to be built-in Ontario. Their gains will help secure the industry for years to come. Rather than trying to claim these victories as their own, the provincial government should work on increasing our automotive footprint.
We need to grow this industry so that more young workers can benefit from the quality of life that working in this sector can bring.
Simply put, the automotive industry is bigger than the government of the day and so too must be our approach. We need a concise, comprehensive plan to ensure that we are growing the automotive industry in targeted areas over the next five, ten, fifteen years and beyond. Rising hydro rates, international pressures and an unpredictable trading partner to the south will create new challenges for the industry.
We do agree with one issue raised in the Minister’s letter. The Progressive Conservatives made it clear during the last election that they would stand idly by as factories closed, resulting in tens of thousands of people out of work, rather than partnering with those from the auto industry to build a plan for future success and jobs.
Doing the bare minimum doesn’t absolve the Liberals from not having a meaningful plan. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is not the way forward.
We need an automotive strategy and we need it now.
Lisa Gretzky, MPP Windsor West
Brian Masse, MP Windsor West
The opinions expressed in this op-ed are not necessarily those of Biz X magazine or its advertisers.