Bombardier workers urge governments to fund Toronto transit vehicle purchase

Thunder Bay—Workers at Bombardier’s manufacturing facility in Thunder Bay are urging both the Ontario and federal governments to immediately fulfil the City of Toronto’s funding needs for streetcar and subway trains.

“If Toronto’s transit needs are going to be met, on time, then both levels of government must act swiftly to fund the city’s vehicle orders,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Thunder Bay workers’ livelihoods are at stake while the Toronto transit system continues to suffer from significant congestion problems.”

The 2020 Toronto City Council Budget passed on February 19 and includes the city’s portion of funding for its long-term vehicle procurement plans. This plan includes the immediate purchase of 60 streetcars and 80 new much needed subway trains, both built in Thunder Bay. On February 24, Unifor representatives held a positive meeting with Mayor John Tory to discuss shared concerns with securing the remaining funding.

Historically, both the province and federal governments have consistently approved funding for the city’s transit needs in a timely fashion. However, in 2019 both levels of government were slow to deliver funding for transit projects, but quick to trade barbs with who was to blame for delays.

In early February, Bombardier reached a deal with French rail manufacturer Alstom SA to sell its rail division, including its Thunder Bay manufacturing facilities. When working at full capacity, the Bombardier Thunder Bay manufacturing facility employs approximately 1,400 workers.

“Our plant has been around for more than 100 years and though different owners have come and gone we have always produce high quality products,” said Dominic Pasqualino, Unifor Local 1075 President. “All levels of government and all political parties need to move without delay to fund their share of Toronto’s transit needs and keep good jobs in Thunder Bay.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.