Singh visits Alstom plant

·3 min read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visited the Thunder Bay Alstom Plant on Tuesday and promoted three new measures that are expected to be brought forward by the Liberal government next week.

They include a government plan for $650 in dental care for children under the age of 12, for two years until the program is further developed in 2023. At least two million people are expected to be impacted by a $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and almost 12 million people should be impacted by a $467 top-up to the GST Tax Credit.

Singh toured the factory and met with the sparse employees that were on the job Tuesday.

“We’ve seen the incredible expertise that this plant has and the history that this plant has in delivering real infrastructure for public transit,” Singh said. “So many of the public transit projects that you see across this country were built here in this facility. People here are ready to get back to work and they need to be able to build more projects.”

Singh says his party believes that this is the right place to use public money, to invest in things like public transit, while maintaining local content requirements.

“This is a plant where it also highlights the strength of Canadian manufacturing, but right now they haven’t been getting a fair shot. I think it’s important to highlight great workers who just need better government policies that give them a fair shot at having a good job and getting good contracts.”

Earlier this year, Ontario Premier Doug Ford cut the Canadian content mandate to 10 per cent to open the market worldwide for tenders to bid on the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) new subway train contract that Alstom had its sights set on. The TTC contract would have enabled the Thunder Bay plant to build subway trains for the GTA’s new subway rail system while maintaining jobs.

“There’s no reason at all to cut out Canadian content. We should be defending every Canadian content we have, and there’s no reason to just give it up,” said Singh, who is frustrated with the move.

“There’s no justification to drop it. Twenty-five per cent is completely defendable in our trade agreements which absolutely allowed for us to have at least 25 per cent (Canadian content). Giving up Canadian content only means that Canadians are going to potentially lose jobs and why (Ford) would do that, to me, it’s just completely the wrong decision.”

Looking ahead, Singh says mining of nickel and lithium will play a big part in building a sustainable future, with these materials needed for the electric vehicles and batteries of the future to fight the climate crisis.

“This is the shift we’re seeing in our economy, where all major car manufacturers are shifting to electric vehicles. We need to be at the forefront of that shift and that’s the exciting opportunities that are developing here in the North with the mining sector.”

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal