Renewed push for auto strategy during federal minister's visit to Windsor

As Windsor's unemployment rate continues to rise above the provincial average, there is another push Tuesday for an automotive strategy.

Minister of Middle Class Prosperity Mona Fortier visited Windsor to mark the first roundtable discussion on the federal budget. During a closed-door meeting, she met with business and community leaders across Windsor-Essex.

Shelley Fellows, chair of Automate Canada — an advocacy group for the country's automation industry — has a vision for what an auto strategy could look like.

Stacey Janzer/CBC

"Let's put together a group of really smart people who know a lot about the industry — both domestically and internationally," said Fellows. "Let's think about it. Let's get some data. Let's have some measures in there where we can understand what's happening."

She said that would lead to a path forward in finding ways to make an auto strategy successful.

"Then [we can] figure out the steps that we have to take to get there," said Fellows. "[Then] put together more really smart people who are committed, ... interested and have the capability to help deliver on all of those steps."

Fellows said she's confident the talk around an auto strategy can finally come to fruition, especially since Irek Kusmierczyk has been elected as Windsor-Tecumseh's MP. He understand this region's stake in the car-making world, she said, adding that she's hopeful he'll re-enforce the need for this type of formal plan.

Minister Fortier said she met with both mayors from Windsor and Tecumseh during her visit. One discussion they had is the need to continue to protect the auto sector.

"How do we support the diversification strategy that is happening here?" Fortier said.

She added, the idea of an auto strategy will be taken back to Ottawa for more discussion "to see if that could be something we could work on because it is a way to continue to invest in our people and their skills."