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Bombardier laying off 550 workers from Thunder Bay plant: source

Last Updated Jul 9, 2019 at 7:21 pm EDT

A Bombardier logo is shown at a Bombardier assembly plant in Mirabel, Que., Friday, October 26, 2018. The head of Metrolinx says it will impose financial penalties on Bombardier Inc. after the Quebec train maker failed to deliver on time six vehicles for Toronto's Eglinton Crosstown LRT. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Bombardier Inc. is laying off half of the 1,100 workers at its Thunder Bay, Ont. railway car plant, according to a federal government source.

Two major contracts in Ontario — for the Toronto Transit Commission streetcars and Metrolinx GO Transit rail cars — are slated to halt by the end of the year.

Local union president Dominic Pasqualino says he fears more job losses are on the horizon beyond the initial 550 as the contracts wind down.

He says part of the blame for a lack of new contracts lies with the Trump administration, which has backed Buy America-like clauses requiring a minimum threshold of local content.

Last month, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford said Ontario’s regional transportation agency, Metrolinx, extended an offer for 36 additional rail cars to Bombardier, but Pasqualino says the plant needs 10 times that amount to sustain employment.

The regional transit agency has also given Bombardier the option to slow down production of the 63 remaining rail cars slated for completion by year’s end.

Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, responded to the news in a statement.

“Our government has spoken to executives at Bombardier to express our disappointment that their company has taken this step,” she said. “We urge the company to work with the provincial government to come to an agreement that would see jobs remain at the Thunder Bay plant.”

TTC spokesman Stuart Green tweeted saying they do not expect any problems with the delivery of the new streetcars and have not been advised of any impacts on timelines.

“With 166 shipped, they are on target to meet the 204 target by the end of the year. They come to us from Thunder Bay and Kingston,” he said.

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