CAW wants ‘made in Canada’ auto policy

CBC News, Sunday 11 August 2002

WINDSOR, ONT.—The Canadian Auto Workers union is warning that the auto industry is shrinking fast. CAW officials toured Ontario this week, with the message that thousands of jobs are at stake as the big three automakers shut plants.

There is some expansion in the auto business as foreign companies grow. but it's not enough to hold back an overall decline in the industry.

In the past year Honda and Toyota have introduced new popular models in North America which they are building at their Canadian assembly plants in Aliston and Cambridge, Ont.

Both companies have expanded their plants and hired more people. But growth by the Asian companies hasn't resulted in overall growth in the auto industry.

For maybe every two jobs lost by the traditional big three, one, 1.1, 1.2, are being added back by the Japanese and Europeans, said Tony Faria.

Faria, a business professor at the University of Windsor, says Canadian auto parts suppliers are losing business because they rely too heavily on selling parts to the big three—GM, Chrysler-Daimler and Ford. He says they need to capitalize on growth in the Asian sector of the market.

Traditionally they have not worked as hard as they should have in getting into Honda and Toyota, Faria said. Now, certainly they're working hard to because it's very clear, these are the companies that are growing, expanding production.

Faria says Ontario and the federal government need to offer tax breaks and other incentives to automakers. That's what southern states in the U.S. are doing to attract new auto assembly plants.

It is also a key demand of the CAW.

The union is sponsoring a national campaign to urge the Ontario and federal governments to come up with a new made in Canada auto policy.

The CAW says every job created in an auto plant creates 7.5 jobs in other areas of the Canadian economy.

The union says the best way to save jobs and create more work is for governments to help auto companies invest in Canada.