TTC Funding Encouraging News but Feds Must Come on Board, says CAW President

June 19, 2009, 12:23 PM EST

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City of Toronto Mayor David Miller and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's announcement today that commits two-thirds of the funding for 204 new Low Floor Light Rail vehicles is encouraging news for workers at the Bombardier Thunder Bay facility, said CAW President Ken Lewenza. 

However, Lewenza warned that the record $1.2 billion light rail project could easily come to a grinding halt if the federal government does not come on board.

"It's incredibly disappointing to hear our Transport Minister use funding technicalities as an excuse to justify the government's inaction," said Lewenza, noting the project is expected to generate nearly 6,000 Canadian jobs and will be a boost to many local economies. 

"It would be an absolute shame if the federal government pulled the plug on this landmark streetcar project, not only because of the economic ramifications but also the social and environmental benefits it brings to millions of Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area," Lewenza said.

CAW Local 1075 President Paul Pugh said the LRV contract, the largest in North American history, would keep the Thunder Bay Bombardier facility running for the next decade and maintain hundreds of manufacturing jobs.

"Our plant is the lifeblood of a community that has been hit hard by the economic crisis which has claimed hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs across the country," Pugh said. "It simply makes no good sense why the federal government would be calling this project into question and holding back these funds at a time when Canadians need it most."

Lewenza credited the Toronto Transit Commission as well as Toronto City Council under the leadership of Mayor Miller along with Premier McGuinty for establishing Canadian-content rules that guaranteed economic benefits to the national economy from this purchase and for working with the CAW to help move this streetcar project forward.

"Today's announcement means we're one step closer to seeing this LRV project become a reality although time is ticking," Lewenza said. "The next step is securing funds from the federal government."

The deadline to secure funding for the LRV project is set for June 27.

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