Minister Bains says Pacifica qualifies for new rebate, asks Doug Ford 'to step up'

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains visited the Unifor Local 444 hall Friday to offer his support for Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles workers.

The company announced Thursday that the Windsor Assembly Plant will be losing its third shift starting Sept. 30, 2019.

"This is very tough news for those workers and families," Bains said.

He said the federal government has been engaging in a number of initiatives to help auto workers and the industry.

Dale Molnar/CBC

With the new NAFTA, Bains said, "we were very clear about our support in protecting the automotive sector from any unfair tariffs" that may be imposed by the U.S.

Not only that, he said the federal government's support of 40 different projects in the automotive industry has resulted in $6 billion of investments.

Lastly, Bains pointed to the federal rebate program under the proposed Liberal budget for 2019, which would provide a $5,000 rebate for certain zero-emission vehicles. 

Earlier this month, Winsdor West NDP MP Brian Masse had called on the Liberals to include the $51,000 Pacifica Hybrid as one of the zero-emission vehicles eligible for a federal rebate, which was said to only apply to vehicles under $45,000. 

After FCA's announcement, Bains said the vehicle does qualify for the incentive program.

"FCA is aware of the fact that the rebate does apply to the Pacifica as well," Bains said.

It is not clear if the government plans to raise the price limit, or make an exception for the Pacifica specifically.

Declining sales

Pacifica sales dropped by 61 per cent in Canada in February 2019, compared to last February. Year-to-date sales numbers as of February also show a 55 per cent decrease compared to last year.

Jason Stein, the publisher of Automotive News, said the segment of minivans "has been decreasing steadily."

"The minivan segment as a whole, is down about one-third of what it was at its peak, which is going back now 19 years," he said.

Both Bains and Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy pointed their fingers at the Ontario PC government, which scrapped the previous government's Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program just over a month after winning the June election.

Cassidy said the union will be writing to the government about the $14,000 incentive that would have been offered for buyers.

Bains emphasized that the federal government has been doing its part in helping auto workers, and that the province needs to now do more.

"The onus is on Premier Ford to step up, and not only fight for the environment, but fight for the economy and jobs," Bains said.