Unifor members to produce masks at GM Oshawa for Health Canada


Unifor members at General Motors in Oshawa are proud to be recalled from layoff to begin manufacturing urgently needed masks for health care professionals and for Canadians.

On Friday April 24, 2020, Navdeep Bains, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced that General Motors had signed a letter of intent to retool part of the Oshawa Assembly plant to make fabric masks for Health Canada.

“Unifor members in Oshawa are highly skilled and ready to step up and make whatever our country needs to get through this pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The fact that Unifor members will help GM produce as many as a million fabric masks per month is an example of what we can do when we work together.”

General Motors says work will involve two shifts of 25 each for a total of 50 workers and is expected to last one year.

“Our plant in Oshawa is a “clean” facility and makes perfect sense for it to be licensed as a medical manufacturer. We welcome more opportunities to use even more parts of the facility to help battle this pandemic,” said Colin James, President of Unifor Local 222.

The work is expected to begin in mid-May once a machine designed by General Motors is installed in Oshawa. Production of fabric masks for health care workers is already underway at GM’s facility in Warren, Michigan.

“I applaud all of the companies who have retooled to assist in these efforts to strengthen our domestic supply chain challenge. Together we are rising to the challenge,” said Bains during Friday’s news conference in Oshawa.

“Many people at GM, the federal government and our union worked very hard to obtain the speedy approvals needed to get this project rolling,” said Dias.

General Motors says it will be selling the masks to the federal government at cost.