Federal Funding for Essex Engine Plant Welcome, But Long Overdue, CAW Says

September 3, 2008, 2:43 PM EST

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The federal government's announcement of funding for Ford's Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario today is a relief for concerned workers and families, but is long overdue, the CAW says.

CAW members and retirees have been calling for months for the federal government to provide financial help to reopen the plant. The Ontario Liberals have already agreed to provide a significant commitment to the project with the goal of securing a new engine for the plant that was idled. This decision by the Ontario government was critical to ensuring Ford move ahead with a new product.

"This is good news for the Essex Engine Plant and for the City of Windsor, but the delay in securing this important federal funding has been frustrating and stressful for everyone involved," said Mike Vince, president of CAW Local 200. He said members are sceptical given the timing of this announcement with a federal election call on the horizon.

He said members approved a new operating agreement that will provide hundreds of millions of dollars in saving over the life of the project back in the spring of 2007. He said the province has supported the project from the start.

Vince stressed with the many job losses, closures and cutbacks across the entire manufacturing sector in Canada there are many thousands more workers who face a bleak future. The high value Canadian dollar, unfair federal trade agreements and the lack of action from the federal government has fed a growing crisis in the manufacturing sector.

"We need a federal government that's willing to take immediate steps including the establishment of a manufacturing policy to stop the ongoing cuts and closures affecting so many workers," Vince said.

CAW President Buzz Hargrove said it's clear the upcoming federal election finally prompted action from the federal government.

"It's no secret that we've been frustrated by the lack of action, especially from the federal level, as the crisis in the industry got worse and worse - - as we lost tens of thousands of high-productivity jobs and as we lost tens of billions of dollars of exports," Hargrove said.

"Our members work extremely hard to help create a strong industry, but those efforts alone can't offset the damage from an overvalued Canadian dollar and from one-way, unfair trade," Hargrove said. "Our federal government must be an active part of the solution."

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