February 25, 2024 10:58 pm

Trudeau’s Cabinet denies claim that foreigners will take Canadian jobs at battery plant

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The Commons industry committee has voted to investigate why foreigners are building a taxpayer-subsidized battery factory in Windsor, Ontario.

On Tuesday, MPs demanded to know how many South Koreans Stellantis will hire after the federal Cabinet committed $10 billion in corporate welfare for the plant last year. Ontario pledged an additional $5 billion.

“The motivation is simple: transparency,” said Conservative MP Rick Perkins. 

The committee approved the motion without a formal vote after Conservative, Bloc Québécois and New Democrat MPs expressed support for further examination of the Stellantis contract, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Taxpayers can’t understand whether or not there is a contract that compels Stellantis and their subsidiary now in Windsor to hire Canadians,” he added.

But on Monday, Cabinet confirmed they began issuing foreign worker permits to build the Windsor, Ontario plant, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising to create Canadian jobs.

On March 23, 2022, the prime minister said his government would “create middle-class jobs.”

During a tour of Stellantis’ facilities last January 17, Trudeau said he would support Canadian workers “every step of the way.”

But a November 16 statement by the Windsor Police Service undermined that promise, stating they “look forward to the South Korean workforce” coming to Canada. Neither the South Korean Embassy nor Windsor Police have since commented on the remarks, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

On the same day, South Korea’s Ambassador to Canada visited Windsor to review preparations for “approximately 1,600 South Koreans,” according to the statement.

Perkins, the Conservative Industry Critic, found the mixed messaging perplexing, stating: “One would think […] that level of subsidy would [include a] commitment for Canadian jobs.”

“Yes, there will be Korean workers who come to Canada to help with the installation of the equipment,” said Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk, parliamentary secretary for employment, who confirmed Korean workers would help install equipment for the plant. “Why? Because this is a new industry.”

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne reiterated his colleague’s remarks, claiming “we’ve never done batteries in North America.”

NextStar Energy, a joint venture between LG and Stellantis, said they outsourced work because it required specialized, proprietary expertise needed to install the equipment. The company has roughly two dozen job openings on its website for technicians, supervisors and legal administrators with “fluency in Korean.”

However, Kusmierczyk denied Stellantis would hire 1,600 South Koreans to build the plant. Meanwhile, Champagne told a reporter “No, not necessarily” when asked if he knew they would hire temporary foreign workers.

In 2022, NextStar committed to hiring 2,500 Canadians to operate the plant once operational in 2024, and 2,300 more during construction. However, they have yet to confirm how many of those jobs would be held by foreign workers.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the subsidy has not been disclosed, despite Opposition MPs repeatedly asking the government to make all electric car funding agreements public.

“We believe in Canadian workers. We believe in electric vehicles,” said Kusmierczyk.

“There are 2,500 good jobs that will be created at this plant,” he added. “Those are the facts.”

Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault also did not know if 1,600 Koreans would build the factory next year. “We have to look at the facts,” he said.



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Original Source: Trudeau’s Cabinet denies claim that foreigners will take Canadian jobs at battery plant

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