Critical EV battery investment helps secure Canada’s auto future

April 25, 2024


TORONTO – Critical multi-government investment for new Honda Canada electric vehicle, battery and battery material facilities will further bolster Canada’s auto sector and help secure and grow jobs across the value chain.

The projected $15 billion investment to assemble new electric vehicles, build a new battery cell plant in Alliston, Ontario alongside additional joint venture battery component and material facilities in Ontario is expected to create an estimated 1,000 new, direct jobs.

“This EV transition is an unstoppable reality and staking Canada’s claim and the jobs that go with it is only possible with the government investment and industrial strategy that Unifor has long called for,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “It is paramount however that government investment comes with guarantees of good paying jobs and transition supports for workers, and that workers’ rights to organize are fully respected.”

Today’s announcement by Honda marks the single, largest investment in Canada’s auto sector, following a string of other record-breaking announcements since 2020, when Unifor negotiated the first major EV investment in history at Ford Motor Company.

Honda EV production is tentatively scheduled for 2028, according to reports, with no details released today on retooling plans for Honda’s existing vehicle assembly plants, anticipated production downtime, future product programs or transition supports for affected workers – all critical issues that pose serious challenges for workers, and that Unifor has had to address in recent years for thousands of autoworkers in Ontario.

“As exciting as it is to build the auto sector of the future, we can’t lose sight of the instability this transition brings to autoworkers. We know this because we are living through it right now in Ontario. Our members are living through it,” Payne said. “Honda workers and those in the supply base will have many questions that deserve answers. Questions about job security, income security during the transition, and what their job of the future will be. They will need and deserve assurances.”

The Honda investment was made possible through strategic federal and provincial government supports estimated at $5 billion. It expands Canada’s forecasted electric vehicle production outlook as well as processing capacity for battery materials and represents Canada’s fourth announced battery cell “gigafactory” following prior announcements on the construction of the Stellantis and LG Energy Solutions NextStar battery plant in Windsor, Ontario, the Volkswagen battery plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, and the Northvolt battery plant east of Montreal, Quebec.

“Canada is vying with the world to obtain these long-term facilities and the thousands of jobs that will support the communities where they are built,” said Unifor Quebec Director Daniel Cloutier. “What governments are doing to secure the future of this industry is working, and a welcome change from past governments who oversaw the auto industry’s decline.”

Despite recently announced EV production slowdowns and retooling delays that are affecting auto assembly and parts workers in Canada and elsewhere, there is an undeniable growth path for EVs and EV investment that will transform the industry. In 2022, Unifor outlined a series of 29 specific recommendations to grow the industry and navigate this transition in support of workers.

Unifor is calling on governments to ensure that all automakers in receipt of public funds commit to deliver good, high-quality jobs for Canadian workers. This includes a commitment by automakers to remain neutral and impartial to employee efforts to form a union in their workplace. Unifor is also calling on the federal government to ensure the speedy passage of the promised Clean Technology Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit announced in the Budget 2023 Budget as well as its supplementary EV Supply Chain Investment Tax Credit announced in Budget 2024.

Unifor set of 29 recommendations for governments and automakers are contained in the union’s auto policy document, Navigating the Road Ahead: Rebuilding Canada’s powerhouse auto sector.