'Brampton is next,' says former Chrysler CEO on Ontario automotive cuts
A former chief executive of Chrysler Group is urging the federal government to do more to support the auto industry, warning workers will need help if other players follow General Motors Co.’s sweeping restructuring plan that will affect thousands of employees in Oshawa, Ont.
Tom LaSorda, who was CEO at Chrysler from 2006 to 2007, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Monday that the government does not and has never wanted to support the auto industry, and that’s why there’s no protection plan in place for workers in the sector.
“You know Brampton’s next … What’s the government going to do there? I don’t know what they’re doing at Chrysler, because I’ve been away for nine years now, but the bottom line is, what are they going to do for these people?,” LaSorda said, referring to Chrysler’s plant in Brampton, Ont. that produces three vehicles and employs nearly 4,000 workers.
“Instead of worrying about what Mexico’s pay rates are, why doesn’t Canada focus on – and the union focus on – their current members, because this is going to spread.”
LaSorda said there is no clear government policy for how to help workers after a plant closes in any business sector.
“The government can’t pick winners and losers … With the government, what are they going to do with the unemployment? Will they offer a retraining program?” LaSorda said.
“Whether you’re in Calgary or you’re in Ontario or Nova Scotia – doesn’t matter. What’s the policy to take care of employees when there’s a plant closing? And it can’t only be the government, but the companies need to participate in paying for their retraining.”
LaSorda’s comments came shortly before General Motors announced late Monday morning that it will cut more than 10,000 jobs and close five factories in North America by the end of next year.
LaSorda added that both the government and unions representing the auto workers have been “late to the table” in encouraging companies to come to Canada.
“Now everybody will get very excited and get involved after somebody announces a plant closing. The issue is why don’t you do something before those decisions are made?” LaSorda said.
“Canada has no policy … You want to protect your industry, what’s your legislation look like to force companies to take care of their employees?”
He said he thinks the government needs to offer big incentives to keep automakers in the country.
“There’s only five companies making cars in Canada. Now you’re going to have four. Likely one day, who knows how many?” LaSorda said.