Canadians Will Reap the Benefit of New Toronto Transit Project, CAW Says

April 27, 2009, 3:46 PM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza applauded the Toronto Transit Commission's decision earlier today to award a $1.2 billion rail transit contract to Canadian manufacturer Bombardier - a move Lewenza expects will translate into hundreds of new jobs at the company's Thunder Bay rail car facility and many more in supplier and spin-off industries.

"It's encouraging to know that public money is being used to maximize economic benefit for Canadians at home, not just in Thunder Bay but across the province and country," said Lewenza.

Lewenza recognized the leadership of Toronto's Mayor David Miller and the Toronto Transit Commission for requiring all candidates to satisfy a minimum 25 per cent Canadian-content threshold as a condition of winning the contract, especially as the Canadian manufacturing sector continues to shed hundreds of thousands of jobs. The union, along with other labour groups, is calling on all Canadian municipalities to adopt a 50 per cent domestic-content requirement for transit vehicles.

Toronto was the first municipality to adopt a 25 per cent Canadian-content requirement for the purchase of transit vehicles and this move was quickly replicated by the province of Ontario. Lewenza said that the success of this project is a testament to the union's national Made in Canada Matters campaign and further proof the Canadian-content threshold should be pushed up to 50 per cent and is urging the Toronto Transit Commission and the province of Ontario to do so.

"This is just another good example of how Canadian-content policies for publicly funded purchases can help stimulate and grow our economy," Lewenza said. "We need to effectively raise the bar on Canadian-content levels, for all levels of government, to ensure the billions of dollars in public funds spent each year are creating jobs and building communities here in Canada."

Bombardier was given the nod ahead of the only other bidder, German manufacturer Siemens AG, to provide the City with new Low Floor Light Rail Vehicles (LRV). 

The total contract may total $3 billion should the full order of rail cars (approximately 600) proceed as planned under Toronto's Transit City program, making this one of the largest municipal transit contracts ever awarded in North America.

The first phase of the contract requires Bombardier to build 204 LRVs to help replace the city's aging fleet of street cars, but will only proceed on condition of funds being delivered from the Ontario and federal governments. Both governments are expected to pony up two-thirds of the cost for the project, which must be delivered on our before June 27.  

"The fate of this project rests with the provincial and federal government, and it's important that they deliver," said CAW Local 1075 President Paul Pugh, who represents over 500 workers at the Bombardier Thunder Bay facility.

"We'll be monitoring the situation very closely in the coming weeks and months," Pugh said.

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