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'Ontario jobs first': Ford government slams feds for use of foreign workers to build Ontario battery plant

The Doug Ford government sidestepped questions about hundreds of foreign workers being brought in to build a battery plant in Windsor, Ont., and instead placed the responsibility on the federal government.

“This is a federal process,” Labour Minister David Piccini told reporters Monday at Queen’s Park.

“The work that we know needs to be done can be done by Ontario workers.”

Windsor Police posted a note on X Thursday night saying they expect about 1,600 workers from South Korea to travel to the community in 2024 to aide in the construction of the Stellantis and LG Energy Solutions battery plant.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to discuss safety and security with his Excellency, Ambassador Woongsoon Lim and look forward to the South Korean workforce coming to our community,” they said.

Neither the federal nor the provincial governments have confirmed the number of foreign workers expected to be involved in the project.

NextStar Energy, a joint venture between LG and Stellantis, has said the outside workers being brought to Windsor have specialized, proprietary expertise needed to install the equipment.

The CEO has committed to hiring 2,500 Canadians to operate the plant once it’s operational and 2,300 more during construction. The company has not confirmed how many foreign workers have been hired.

Ontario is on the hook for at least $5 billion in tax credits as part of its deal with Stellantis. Lisa Gretzky, the MPP for Windsor West, said they should have been aware of this.

"I'm not letting the province off the hook on this one. They should have known that there needed to be strings attached."

Unifor National President Lana Payne agreed with this sentiment, saying that the hiring of temporary foreign workers has “raised serious flags for our union.”

“We believe the shift to electric vehicles must be led by good jobs, with union contracts, for workers in Canada.”

Meanwhile, Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling for an inquiry into the issue, adding that the contracts should be public.

The plant is expected to open sometime next year. The federal and provincial governments have previously said it will bring thousands of jobs to Ontario and support auto manufacturing supply chains within Canada. Top Stories

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