Linda Hasenfratz | Contributed to The Globe & Mail | Published December 3, 2018
“Linda Hasenfratz is CEO of Linamar.
Since news broke that GM is shuttering its Oshawa factory, a narrative has taken hold: Ontario’s manufacturing sector is uncompetitive and in decline. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite. Manufacturing is entering a new, innovation-driven era that will play to our strengths.
Oshawa isn’t closing because it is uncompetitive. It’s closing because the particular vehicles it is tooled up to make are not selling to North American customers. Consumers are increasingly uninterested in buying sedans – they want crossovers, SUVs and light trucks: vehicles that can carry their families and all their gear, vehicles that make them feel safe and vehicles that they can work in. The same is true for the other facilities that are closing. Fifteen thousand jobs are being eliminated as a result of the GM shutdowns, 2,500 of them in Canada. That’s about 15 per cent of the total, which is not dissimilar to Canada’s share of overall North American production – so, frankly, proportionate and in no way reflective of the productivity of the Oshawa facility.
Over all, GM volumes probably won’t change that much after the Oshawa plant shutdown. Higher-selling vehicles manufactured in other facilities will make up all or at least most of the difference. Splitting that capacity among more plants just doesn’t make good investment sense.
What does make good business sense is investing in manufacturing in Ontario. Many manufacturers are thriving in Ontario and Canada – including in the auto industry.” Read more