Fate of Stellantis EV battery plant in Ottawa’s hands: Ford

WATCH: “Before we took office… you could shoot a cannon down the streets of Windsor and not hit anyone,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday. “We’re bringing economic growth — unprecedented economic growth — to Ontario.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the future of Stellantis’s electric battery plant in Windsor, Ont., is in the hands of the federal government after the province offered more money in a bid to help save the deal.

Last week, Stellantis stopped construction of the plant, claiming the federal government “has not delivered what was agreed to.”

“We’re waiting for the federal government to finish off the deal,” Ford told reporters at an unrelated skilled trades funding announcement in London on Wednesday.

“As you know, we put in our fair share and now we’re stepping up again to put more money because it’s all about the people, it’s all about making sure they have the jobs down in Windsor region and right across southwestern Ontario.”

Stellantis and LG Energy Solution announced last year that they were building the $5-billion plant in Windsor that would create 2,500 jobs in the vehicle manufacturing hub.

While the full amounts have not to be disclosed, all levels of government were to provide financial support.

The CEOs of the two companies wrote last month to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying Ottawa had confirmed in writing five times that it would match production incentives under the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), but has not delivered on those commitments.

Federal Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said early last week that he was “confident” they could come to a deal with LG and Stellantis but urged the Ontario government to “pay your fair share.”

Ford, however, said the province has not been involved in the federal government’s production incentive discussions but had signed its own deal with Stellantis for a $500-million capital contribution – the same amount committed to Volkswagen for an electric vehicle battery plant in St. Thomas, just outside of London.

On Friday, Ford announced the provincial government had offered more money in a bid to keep Stellantis and LG from pulling out of building the plant. Later that day, Champagne said talks with Stellantis were seeing “progress.”

Ford was asked Wednesday if providing additional funds sets a bad precedent.

“No, it doesn’t at all. It creates economic development,” he said.

“If you want to talk about Stellantis, that town before we took office was hurting. It’s no different than St. Thomas. You could shoot a cannon down the streets of Windsor and not hit anyone.”

Champagne has said discussions with Stellantis and Volkswagen have been done “in parallel,” and that the talks with Stellantis had probably started even before those with Volkswagen.

The federal government offered Volkswagen a $700-million capital contribution and up to $13 billion in production subsidies for the batteries it makes over the first decade, to match what the company would get in production tax credits under the IRA.

Wednesday’s announcement in London was for $4.7 million in new funding to support a new job placement program as well as classroom and shop training for workers to acquire the skills needed to transition to the electric vehicle industry.

with files from Sean Previl and Aaron D’Andrea, Global News and The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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