Ontario creates auto task force after Ford says “will invest in small business”

Doug Ford, new premier of Ontario, has appointed Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, to be the province’s lead auto task force. The government says Dias, who will serve as…

Ontario creates auto task force after Ford says "will invest in small business"

Doug Ford, new premier of Ontario, has appointed Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, to be the province’s lead auto task force.

The government says Dias, who will serve as a minister of economic development and trade and will meet with members of the auto industry, will ensure Ontario is considered as a partner in the Canadian supply chain when potential projects are submitted.

“We want to make sure there is a strong Ontario, they are a major player in the global auto industry, they need to be partners,” Ford said in a phone interview.

Ford’s Liberal predecessor, Kathleen Wynne, had vowed to complete a comprehensive review of the Ontario auto sector by the end of March and Dias had earlier threatened action if the review was not completed.

“It is essential that the government does not let the automotive market in Ontario drift and I am pleased that Premier Ford has prioritized automotive manufacturing,” Dias said in a statement.

Ford has said the government would make small business investment more attractive in Ontario. “We’re going to invest in small business, bring back growth, grow the economy, and lower taxes.”

Unifor represents 250,000 workers, including those at General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Ford has confirmed it is looking to cut several thousand jobs by 2022.

Wynne made a deal with Fiat Chrysler to keep Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario, plant open after the automaker announced an investment of $554 million, which could mean 2,800 jobs.

Wynne, who announced that she was not seeking re-election, said the province would help find a solution to offset the GM plant closure in Oshawa, Ontario, that is set to begin in the summer of 2020.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Jerry Dias as the union’s chief negotiator, not president. We apologize for the error.

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