GM Oshawa plant closure casts a large shadow on province

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The good news first, a recent report by Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) estimates that autonomous vehicles will create 34,000 jobs over the next few years. The bad news is that it offers cold comfort to many blue-collared workers who may not be suited for those tech-driven jobs.

General Motors’ decision to shutter its flagship Oshawa, Ont. plant in 2019 will not only affect the 2,500 employees working there but is expected to severely compromise the jobs of as many as 15,000 Canadians working for auto-parts suppliers.

Every job at the Oshawa plant is tied to seven spin-off jobs in the community.

Canada’s auto manufacturers support 400,000 service and dealership jobs, according to industry statistics provided by the federal government.

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GM formally announced its decision to shut down its Oshawa facility on Monday as part of a global restructuring plan that will also see closures in Michigan — including its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant — Warren, Ohio and White Marsh, Maryland. The company said two additional plants outside North America will cease operations by the end of 2019.

The confluence of trends made this GM plant closure inevitable. Young people are increasingly not buying cars because they often live and work in downtown cores and depend upon public transit and ride-sharing to get around.

The electric car and the driverless car of the near future will be mean fewer cars on the road. On every car, manufacturers make an estimated $30,000 in the sale price and maintenance over its lifetime. Driverless cars and ridesharing mean the companies can make hundreds of thousands of dollars for the same car. The economics just doesn’t support the huge auto-manufacturing infrastructure.

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But in the next few years, thousands of Ontarian families are going to face some pretty hard times with the decline of the auto sector. It is clear that the city of Oshawa will be hit in many ways. Families will move away, many retail businesses that catered to GM workers will be hit and that will affect even more jobs. It is a grim situation with no real solution in sight. -CINEWS

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