Mr. Speaker, when we rose for supper at six o'clock, I mentioned that I intended to spend some time speaking about the conditions which currently exist within the auto industry, and I want to do that now.
The House will recall that on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I raised with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Gray) the problems which seem to be revolving around the contract which was signed between the federal government and the Ford Motor Company in the year 1978. That contract afforded to Ford the opportunity to gain access to some $68 million in return for the building of a plant in Windsor. I asked the minister if he would produce for the House the relevant sections of the contract which afforded us the opportunity to insist that the Ford Motor Company should continue and maintain the levels of employment that it currently had in 1978 and beyond, during the time that this new plant was being built. Today the minister tabled the documents in the House, and it is no wonder we are being ripped off.
I read both the contract and the letter of agreement over the signature, in both cases, of the then minister, Mr. Horner- long departed, thank heavens! In any event, the contracts do not provide any protection for the workers in the province of Ontario, and it is no wonder that the minister did not want us to see the contracts. In fact, not only is there no provision for the workers in the province of Ontario, but also nowhere in the contract does it say that the minister could not have told us that. It does say, of course, that, and I quote:
Subject to the federal laws of Canada, the minister will maintain normal commercial security and privacy in respect to the project and will not disclose any information relating to the scope and cost of work encompassed by the project to any person or government outside Canadian federal and provincial government departments, agencies and Crown corporations without the. .. written consent of the company.
One does not have to be a corporate lawyer in order to understand that that did not preclude the minister from telling us that there was no provision for the protection of the workers in the plants of the Ford Motor Company.
To draw in that he had to wait for approval from Ford was a red herring. Of course, what the minister did not bring to our attention was the fact that not only is there no protection for
April 17, 1980
The Address-Mr. Deans
the workers in Ontario and Canada but also, in fact, when it was signed the contract said the following:
It is understood and agreed that nothing contained in this paragraph-
This is the paragraph dealing with protection.
-shall in any way ... limit... any right-
Of the company.
-to arrange its business affairs in any manner it shall see fit.
That is exactly what has been done. The company has arranged its business affairs in the province of Ontario in the manner it has seen fit, and the end result of what the company saw fit is that at this point in time, together with its other companion companies, we see 20,000 employees, generally employed in the auto industry or related industries, out of work.
These employees are not all in Windsor. One might have expected that the minister would understand the problem, given that he comes from Windsor, given that he claims to be championing the workers of Windsor, given that he says that it is nice to hear the NDP finally speaking about the problems of auto workers and given that the minister claims to be expert in the matter of the auto industry, the trade pact and related matters. It is strange to me that he does not understand the terms of this contract.
What was given away? Not only the $40 million federal dollars but also the additional $28 million given by the province of Ontario.
Let me tell the Elouse what is happening across this province, because I think it is important to know. Not only is unemployment happening in Windsor, where there are major lay-offs. We all know of the Budd Manufacturing Company which has laid off upwards of 1,900 people in Windsor. In Brampton, American Motors has laid off some 700 people. In Brampton, Gabriel Company has laid off 20 more people. In Brampton, the Canadian Ferrow Company has laid off another 108 people. In Stratford, Sealed Power has laid off 180 people.
In Ottawa, Beach Foundry just recently announced the lay-off of 240 people. In Windsor, Chrysler laid off an entire shift in April of 1980, 1,200 people, and Chrysler intends this summer to lay off yet another 2,100 people. In Windsor, Ford in its casting operation laid off 840 people. In Oakville, Ford laid off an entire shift of 1,400.
When we take a look around the province even further, we find that in subsidiary operations in a place like Otter Lake, which is near Parry Sound, the Rockwell Corporation, well known to most, has just announced that it is likely to shpt down permanently. It used to employ 200. One hundred have already been laid off, and the only other major industry in the area, CIL, has indicated that it too may well be comtemplat-ing closing. Of course, when they are closing the operation in Otter Lake, they are maintaining their operation in Mississippi. That is what we would expect, of course, from a corporation which does business in the atmosphere created by a
government like the one we have had for the last far too many years.
When we look in summary at what has happened in the auto industry, for heaven's sake let us not get the impression that the auto industry can sit in splendid isolation and be viewed as only one industry, because there is nowhere in this country that is not affected in one way or another and will not be affected in one way or another by the massive lay-offs which are taking place in this major industry. As I said the other day, two out of every ten people working in the province of Ontario work in the auto industry or in a related industry. We have 20,000 unemployed now, 10,000 of them in Windsor. Do hon. members know that 35 per cent of all Ford workers there are laid off and 40 per cent of all Chrysler workers there are laid off?
When we look around the country, or this part of the country, we see that in Kitchener, St. Catharines and Ajax between 40 per cent and 80 per cent of all the people who were employed in the auto industry are now laid off either permanently or temporarily. The minister cannot claim that this is new and that all of a sudden this was dumped into his lap- poor soul!-because this has been clearly and evidently coming for a long period of time.
I will not burden or bore the House with all of the detail, but I can say that there was news story after news story through last year, with headlines such as "Parts firms stung by slowdown". More than 1,000 were laid off. "1,175 face lay-off after Ford move". "Auto lay-offs kill Windsor's short-lived boom". It goes on. "Auto parts industry fears major lay-offs". Then it points out the places where those lay-offs will take place.
These were all stories from last year, and the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce, the ministry and the ministers, whoever they may have been, surely must have been able to see the handwriting on the wall. But what do we get from the minister? Well, he is going to have some meetings. I want to tell the House that those meetings are not nearly good enough for the unemployed workers in this country, in this province, and in Windsor in particular. Another series of meetings between the minister and some inconsequential people will not resolve the problems of the auto industry.
I do not know if the House realizes just how many people are involved in this and what happens to their families. I do not think the minister understands-and he should understand-that the entire infrastructure in social services in place in his own community is in jeopardy. Of course the reason is evident. It is because most of the agencies which provide the social services require donations through United Appeal or through governments, and governments are cutting back. Of course the United Appeal cannot raise the money it could raise before because there are fewer people working to contribute. So, at the very time when they need the money, at the very time when the need is greatest, when more people stand in line looking for help-most for the first time-they cannot get the help because the agencies do not have the money to provide it
April 17, 1980
and the government does not produce any of the funds necessary to make up the shortfall.
It will not end here. Today I was speaking to one of the major tire manufacturers in Canada. I was told by one of its senior officials that we can expect not only the Whitby layoffs, the closure announced less than a week ago, with a dramatic impact on the town, but we can anticipate that there will be lay-offs all across the country where tire manufacturers are located. For example, we can expect that there will be lay-offs in Joliette. Of course there will be lay-offs in Hamilton, which I represent. What does the government do? Here is a tire industry faced with the problems the auto industry is facing, and the government turns around and gives something like $40 million to Michelin in Nova Scotia to go ahead and build a new plant. What possible use can that be when there is an idle capacity all across the industry, when the industry is presently laying off? Why would they give $40 million or $50 million to build a plant where no plant is needed? Why would they further jeopardize the work and the livelihood of the people presently involved in the industry by handing out money at a time when money can do nothing but harm?
It has not been announced yet, but we will see, as we will in all other related industries, major cutbacks in the rubber industry. Those major cutbacks will touch every one of us here in one way or another. Whether the House believes it or not, the auto industry is crucial to the well-being of this country. The minister should be prepared to establish once and for all the role the auto industry in Canada can and will play, a role which must be established in one way or another, albeit with agreements, separate and apart nevertheless from the United States industry. We cannot afford to have an industry that in its own right could well be profitable, if given an opportunity, dragged down by management which really does not much care about the Canadian component or about the families of the people in Windsor, Oakville, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Parry Sound, Hamilton or any other place across this country, and makes its decisions in isolation from what is in the best interests economically and socially for Canada.
How can we possibly develop an industrial strategy which does not encompass the auto industry? How can we possibly look forward to the creation of new jobs? I am not only referring to producing jobs for the people who are presently looking for work, but how can we look forward to the creation of new jobs, unless we are prepared to sit down with that industry and insist that it establishes reasonable levels of manufacturing based on Canadian sales, and stop being simply assemblers of automobiles and start being manufacturers of component parts in every single community across this country?
Topic: ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE