Mr. Ian Deans (Hamilton Mountain):
Mr. Speaker, today in the province of Ontario there are some major problems confronting a number of workers, in fact a large number of workers, and I raised two questions with the minister. One was whether or not he could provide information for the House regarding the terms and the guarantees that were given at the time the federal government entered into a $68 million guarantee for the Ford Motor Company. Second, I asked whether the minister might be able to tell the House what sort of steps he proposed to take in order to ensure that the workers in the province of Ontario faced with these very difficult times would be at least guaranteed some form of support.
In this province the auto industry is in a very sorry state. As of today, the casting plant in Windsor will be mothballed. It may open some day in the future, but there is no guarantee. At the moment, 900 employees there will be out of work. In Oakville, another Ford plant, one shift will be laid off with 1,500 workers unemployed. All told in the province there are some 20,000 workers in the auto industry who are presently unemployed or about to become unemployed. That does not take into account the impact of what is happening with Chrysler or the snowballing effect that the closures of Ford and Chrysler will have on the subsidiary industry and of the suppliers who relate directly to those two major corporations.
I found the minister's answer quite unsatisfactory because, to the question of what were the guarantees, he answered that he could not tell me. He could not tell me because he had to have the permission of the Ford Motor Company before he could tell us what guarantees were written into the agreement which gave $68 million of tax money to Ford. It is ludicrous to
April 15, 1980
think that in any business arrangement the person who put up the money would not at least have the right to immediate access to the guarantees and, in the case of a public agency, would not be able to report to the public from where the money comes or what sorts of commitments they were able to get at the time that guarantee or contract was made.
As to the second question, the minister's answer was simply that he was meeting no doubt with a large number of industry people in an effort to try to find a solution. 1 suggest that he might take another look at the auto industry.
The auto industry and the way in which it must be dealt with must be dramatically changed in this country. We cannot possibly allow the kind of piecemeal approach that has been used over the course of the last number of years in terms of trying to rationalize an industry that is in such a state of decay. Chrysler is on the verge of bankruptcy, if not in fact bankrupt. Ford Motor Company will lose about $1 billion this year. Who is next?
We are having meetings, meetings with suppliers and with the industry. We are in the process of considering whether it might be appropriate to loan, guarantee, or otherwise make available to Chrysler Corporation some half a billion dollars. As soon as that decision is made, Ford will be standing with its nose in the trough trying to find out just what share of the public purse it will be able to enjoy.
There has to be a reordered auto industry in this country. The auto industry is to blame for all of its own problems. Surely it must have been able to see as far back as seven or eight years ago that a dramatic shift was taking place in the purchasing preference of the people of North America. Surely it must have been able to project ahead and to see that the energy crunch that was becoming apparent was going to cause all kinds of difficulties for the monstrous vehicles that it built.
However, the companies did no proper planning. They did not make the transition, they did not invest the money, they did not involve themselves as good corporate citizens might have been expected to do in attempting to find the solution which would have kept their industries viable and competitive.
I think the minister has to sit down with these companies at the highest level. He has to say to them that this transition which is about to take place must take place now, and that there can be no public funds made available unless the people of the province of Ontario who are presently involved in the operation, the Government of Canada, and the people of Canada who will be putting up the money, are guaranteed that the outcome of whatever is finally decided will be that the auto industry in the North American continent, and in Canada in particular, will be competitive with the European auto manufacturers not only here but also in other parts of the world, and will be able to compete free from the encumbrances of parent companies in the United States.
I ask the minister to address himself to those matters. They are vital to the economy of this province and vital to the economy of this country. Two out of every ten people in this province work in the auto industry or in related industries, and
I suggest that without it we are going to be in a very sorry state in many communities.
Topic: PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic: INDUSTRY, TRADE AND COMMERCE-JOBS AVAILABLE IN AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURING