Premier Doug Ford said he will always have the backs of the workers at the Thunder Bay Alstom plant, but provided few details on future contracts for the struggling operation that has seen numerous layoffs in recent years.
On Aug. 24, Ford toured the Alstom plant and met with workers alongside Minister Greg Rickford.
“We will make sure anything bought in Ontario should be produced in Ontario. It’s good to see you are shipping down the U.S. as well,” Ford said in a speech to workers on the plant floor.
“We are going to get more orders, we are going to get more go trains to be refurbished, because you built them here.”
Ford did not provide any details on when that work would come or what sort of contracts could be coming to the plant.
The Alstom operation in Thunder Bay, formerly Bombardier, has struggled in recent years following the completion of major contracts at the end of 2019. Since then, it has secured smaller contracts including building 28 bi-level cars for two U.S. transit authorities, 60 street cars for the Toronto Transit Commission, and 36 Bi-level cars for Metrolinx.
But these contracts have always been seen by then Bombardier officials and Unifor representatives as bridging the gap to larger orders that would secure the future of the operation in Thunder Bay.
“We have to look further down the road to the subway cars and hopefully we will get that big contract soon,” said Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075.
“I know that Doug Ford and his brother Rob Ford were big fans of the subway cars and it would be a great honour to produce that first car and build on that legacy here at the plant. It’s really important we get that contract and build a large portion here in this plant.”
There are approximately 500 people still working at the Alstom plant, which has previously seen more than 1,100 workers employed.
“We will have work for you, so please don’t be looking for other jobs because we will make sure we have contracts to keep you going,” Ford said.
French train manufacturer Alstom finalized its acquisition of Bombardier's rail division earlier this year.