CAW President Praises Leadership of Toronto Council on Solidifying Streetcar Deal

June 27, 2009, 9:41 AM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza praised Toronto City Council, including Mayor David Miller, for agreeing to put up the outstanding funds required to solidify the record-breaking project to replace the City's aging streetcar fleet with 204 new Low Floor Light Rail vehicles. 

On June 26, City Council voted 36-6 in favour of upping their funding commitment to $834 million in the absence of the federal government contributing their one-third share.

Lewenza said the City's decision was a show of leadership in a time of economic hardship. The $1.2 billion project is expected to generate nearly 6,000 Canadian jobs, including jobs for workers at the Bombardier rail car facility in Thunder Bay, as well as workers across Canada. 

"There has never been a more important municipal infrastructure project anywhere in North America and it would have been an absolute shame for Canada to lose out on the major economic benefits because our own governments could not properly allocate the necessary funds," Lewenza said.

CAW Local 1075 President Paul Pugh, who represents workers at the Bombardier facility, said the federal government was wrong to deny the City's funding request for new transit vehicles because of the much needed economic support it will generate for the City of Thunder Bay and other communities hit hard by manufacturing job loss.

"This contract will keep the Thunder Bay facility running over the next decade, maintaining hundreds of manufacturing jobs," Pugh said. "The federal government can still play an important role in this project by providing their share of the funding requirements, but until then at least we know this order will proceed as planned thanks to the City." 

Lewenza also credited the City of Toronto and Province of Ontario for establishing Canadian-content rules to guarantee Canadians received a portion of the economic benefits from this transit purchase, a policy the CAW has also been calling on the federal government to adopt. 

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