Oshawa, Ontario is dealing with news that I’ve personally lived through twice.
General Motors is ending operations at their Oshawa-based auto manufacturing plants.
News like this can (and often does) cripple communities. 2,800 GM employees will lose their jobs. The ripple effect of this is much larger than 2,800 people.
Families are impacted. Income from working for the auto-sector is hard to match with the skillset that automotive employees have. Many will struggle to replace that income, possibly having to work two retail and/or minimum wage roles, to make up what they were earning in the auto plants.
With people earning less, they will be spending less, which has a ripple effect on smaller business, which can (and often do) close up, due to lack of sales.
See what happens when a large employer leaves your community?
Windsor knows this feeling. Fiat-Chrysler is really the only main automaker left in Windsor, Ontario. GM? Gone (and they’re slowly clearing away the demolished plant that has been dormant for many years). Ford has an engine plant, but mark my words, if they need to build the engines more efficiently (aka cheaper), they’ll close that down too.
Windsor, much like Detroit rode the ups and downs of the auto sector. Growing up in Pontiac, Michigan I saw up close and personal what happens when things are going well, and when they are not.
My family (Great Grandfather, Grandfather, Father, Uncles, Cousins, friends, etc) all worked for the auto sector. I’ve seen how this kind of news impacts people, families, communities. My heart breaks for Oshawa this morning.
When GM and Ford closed or scaled back operations in Windsor, it created a ripple effect and made the city suffer the 2008 recession even worse than other parts of Ontario, and Canada.
The City of Pontiac basically died, after GM closed shop. Crime rose through the roof, and the City filed bankruptcy, and basically had no local government, police or fire services, etc.
So did Flint, Michigan. Economic depression continues to impact that city, and their water supply still isn't truly safe to drink. The ripple effect of having your community supported by ONE company is a slippery slope.
The safety nets of Canada will help minimize the impact of GM leaving Oshawa in 2019, but it’s still going to hurt.
For the employees of GM-Oshawa, look into getting training NOW. Toronto has a HUGE shortage of elevator repair technicians due to the bazillion condos that are being built in the GTA. General labours are in constant need. Learn new skills. If you’ve been working in the plant for more than 5 years, you’ve learned new skills because how cars are built today is different than even 5 years ago.
For the City of Oshawa, get creative. You’re losing an employer that provides a big tax incentive to your community. Be proactive now, so you can avoid what happened to Pontiac, Michigan.