The federal and and provincial governments are investing more than $200 million in a new engine program at Ford's Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont., as part of a $1-billion partnership with the company to "create and maintain" almost 800 jobs.
Ford workers formed a perimeter around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he announced the multi-million-dollar cash injection during a visit to the site Thursday.
"Today's investments will help create and maintain almost 800 jobs for Canadians in Windsor and across Ontario," he said. "This is about positioning Canada as a global centre for automotive innovation."
$337M to set up Ottawa research site
The federal and provincial governments each committed a $102.4-million conditional grant to the company, bringing the total investment in Windsor to about $600 million.
The money will be used to create a "world class" engine facility and a Powertrain Engineering Research and Development Centre.
About $337.9-million will also be used to set up a research and engineering centre in Ottawa that will create 295 jobs and will focus on infotainment, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles.
CEO Mark Buzzell and the company's president of the Americas Joe Hinrichs were also at the media event.
Buzzell said the government's investment will help Canada "compete and win" in the global auto industry.
"There is tremendous competition for investment like this," he added.
Hinrichs said it was too early to talk job numbers for Windsor or to provide much detail about the new product the plant will build.
"For competitive reasons, it's too early to talk about it this far in advance … but it's a very important program for us," he said.
Ford employees celebrated the funding and the promise of a new product as signs of security for their future.
Ed Giofu has worked for Ford in Windsor for the past 34 years and survived three plant closures.
"It's awesome, it's unbelievable," he said, adding everyone on the production floor was ecstatic. "Windsor has gone through a lot. We've lost a lot of jobs … but this is great."
Emotional day for Trudeau
Premier Kathleen Wynne, Federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and provincial Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid were also on hand for the announcement.
Wynne said Ontario is "100 per cent committed" to the success of the auto industry and added the investment was about ensuring the province's auto sector will succeed in the future.
During his speech, Trudeau said it was an emotional day for him as he was able to hold the shovel his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, used to break ground before the plant was built back in 1978.
The prime minister said he was humbled to visit the site, praising Windsor and its people for fighting through years of poor economic times.
"You guys are tough, there's no doubt about that," he said. "Because of that famous Windsor resilience this city is prospering again."