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Jul 10, 2019

Bombardier should maintain Thunder Bay plant amid Metrolinx talks: Fedeli

Fedeli: Bombardier should maintain Thunder Bay facility while Metrolinx talks underway

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The Ontario government is urging Bombardier Inc. (BBDb.TO) to maintain its Thunder Bay, Ont. facility as the plane and train maker announced it will lay off half of its workforce at the plant, the province’s minister of economic development said.  

Bombardier confirmed Wednesday that it plans to slash up to 550 jobs by November at the rail car plant, which has been part of the Quebec-based firm’s troubled streetcar order from the Toronto Transit Commission.

“Certainly they’ve had those issues,” Fedeli said ahead of Bombardier's official announcement, when asked about the company’s past production delays that have affected Toronto’s streetcar and light-rail train orders.

“In Ontario we’re right in the middle of negotiations for $100-million-worth of Bombardier products for Metrolinx. So we’re urging them to be a big part of our negotiations, and we’re urging them to maintain their facility while these negotiations are going on.”

Bombardier’s layoffs come as two major Ontario contracts, including for TTC streetcars and Metrolinx GO Transit rail cars, are scheduled to conclude by the end of the year. Ontario's Ministry of Transportation said it is currently negotiating an additional 36 Metrolinx rail cars as part of an existing Bombardier contract.  

The transportation company’s layoffs mark Bombardier’s latest downsizing move in an ongoing effort to improve profitability. Most recently, Bombardier announced it is selling its regional-jet business to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., ending its three-decade era in commercial aircraft.

Fedeli said he hopes Bombardier will be part of the “huge movement in transit” that Ontario is creating.

“We would love to see Bombardier as an active partner in that,” Fedeli said. “This closure is not a good signal from them. We’re very disappointed.”