New Contract Means More Jobs in Thunder Bay, Ontario

June 21, 2010, 3:58 PM EST

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A $770 million light rail car order placed by the Metrolinx transportation agency means Bombardier will hire more than 200 additional workers for its Thunder Bay, Ontario plant.

The contract signed by Bombardier and Metrolinx, the transportation agency for the Greater Toronto Area, calls for 182 light rail vehicles, with the chance of a further 118, for use over the next 10 years in the GTA and Hamilton areas.

CAW Local 1075 represents workers at the Thunder Bay plant. When this most recent contract is added to existing streetcar and subway contracts for Toronto as well as construction of bi-level cars for other transportation services, the local plant should be operating near capacity of 1,500 workers.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the announcement highlights the importance of Canadian content policies.

"This contract means investment in the Thunder Bay facility, which ensures greater job security and opportunity in the future for this community and the surrounding area, which have been so hard hit by job losses in other economic sectors," Lewenza said.

"Procurement policies with Canadian content provisions are critical to building our communities," Lewenza said. "We need all levels of government to purchase Canadian goods and services."

At a June 14 ceremony in Thunder Bay, Bombardier's North American president Raymond Bachant said the company plans to exceed the 25 per cent Canadian content requirement put in place by the province.

CAW Local 1075 President Paul Pugh said the new equipment and workforce means the plant is likely to land more contracts.

"Economies of scale kick in," said Pugh. "Once you have these assembly lines in place and the products being produced, it's not hard to pick up other orders. That's what's happened with the Bi-Level line, which now is the largest selling commuter vehicle in North America."

"And the orders keep coming, because as.transit authorities talk to each other, they exchange experiences and then they decide to buy that same vehicle," Pugh told the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal. "And once the line's in place, the costs go down, so that the unit price that can be offered to potential customers is increasingly better."


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