Canadian transportation equipment manufacturer Bombardier plans to lay off up to 50% of the workforce at its Thunder Bay rail-car plant in Ontario, where it manufactured streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission.
The company plans to cut 550 of the 1,100 jobs at the Thunder Bay plant, a senior federal government official was quoted as saying. However, a Bombardier spokesperson declined to comment.
Bombardier also used the Thunder Bay facility to carry out a contract with Metrolinx for GO Transit rail cars, but the transit agency reduced the order by 50% in 2017.
Final deliveries of streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission are expected later this year.
Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said: “Our government has spoken to executives at Bombardier to express our disappointment that their company has taken this step.
“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.”
She said that Metrolinx is ‘actively pursuing the purchase from Bombardier of more than $100m in additional GO Transit cars that would be built in Thunder Bay.’
However, the minister’s office clarified later that Metrolinx wanted to buy more trains under an existing contract and that detailed negotiations are ongoing.
Local union president Dominic Pasqualino, who did not confirm the layoff numbers but expected significant job losses, said: “It’s not good. I’m always afraid that there are going to be more layoffs.
“This business is cyclical. Things go up, things go down. But the thing is, it doesn’t look like things are going to go back up.
“Now you’re looking at these people moving from Thunder Bay or working in the logging industry or the mining industry. It’s very disruptive.”
Bombardier has been downsizing its aerospace and railway operation for several years as part of efforts to improve profitability.