The Ontario government announced a $550,000 investment Friday, aimed at creating career centres to help auto workers recently laid off in Windsor, Ont.
The government is funding a career action centre that will serve 289 recently laid-off Syncreon workers and is continuing to fund a similar centre that already opened for 530 Stellantis workers impacted by layoffs in relation to the third shift.
The new Syncreon job centre has opened earlier this week, and will offer help with searching for new jobs, career planning, counselling and help with resume writing.
A representative for the Stellantis career site said they have been able to help about 600 people who have come to them for the services.
"It's very hard because everybody's situation is different, like some people lost their job, and a couple people — both worked there out of the family," said Sara Vermast.
Vermast was employed at Stellantis before being laid off, and now works at the career centre that's been helping her colleagues with support.
"It's different and it's hard and challenging for them and everybody is different with their mental health situation and stuff like that, we do the best that we can," she said.
"This s about trying to get laid off workers opportunities and back to work," said Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444.
Monte McNaughton, minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, made the announcement in Windsor, stressing the efforts the government has made to secure the auto industry in Ontario.
Workers struggle with EI
In July, Stellantis — owner of the Windsor Assembly Plant — announced it would bring the work done by feeder plant Syncreon back into the Windsor Assembly Plant.
"As Stellantis transitions to a sustainable, mobility tech company, we continue to review our operations for efficiencies," a Stellantis spokesperson said at the time.
In September, city council voted in favour of lobbying the federal government on behalf of Syncreon workers, in light that they may not get their full EI entitlement.
Council voted unanimously to press Ottawa to extend temporary COVID-era EI changes that are set to expire on Sept. 24. Without the extension, 297 local Syncreon workers would see severance deducted from their EI benefits, and some might not qualify for EI at all.
Their employment ended Oct. 31.
Cassidy says he's been working closely with local MP Irek Kusmierczyk
"It's a very complex file, but we are going to continue to push for that," he said, adding Unifor has listed the issue as a top priority, as COVID-related changes to EI are occurring across Canada.
"I think [Syncreon] really brought that to light."
The Syncreon job centre will be funded until October 2023, at 3400 Somme Ave. in Windsor. The Stellantis job centre, at 1855 Turner Road, will continue to operate until November 2023.
The government says there are currently 13,000 open jobs in the Windsor-Sarnia region.