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Ontario Premier Doug Ford defends use of foreign workers at Stellantis battery plant


Ontario Premier Doug Ford defended the use of at least 900 foreign workers to build its new electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont. on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Mississauga, the premier leaned on the expertise of those workers, saying they were being brought in because they understand the technology.

“They’re all coming here part-time. They’re going to set up the plant, there’re going to do the training, and then they’re going to go back,” he said. “That’s going to have spin-off jobs.”

“It’s great for the people of Windsor and southwestern Ontario and we’re quite excited.”

The tone the premier used was quite different compared to that of his Minister of Labour, who just a few days ago appeared shocked and put the blame for the outsourcing on the federal government. This is in addition to a call for an inquiry, which was made by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

NextStar Energy, a joint venture between LG and Stellantis, confirmed Thursday that up to 900 technicians predominantly from South Korea will be coming to Ontario to “assemble, install and test” the equipment required to make the batteries.

The work, NextStar said, is expected to take three to 18 months.

“They have specific knowledge of the equipment, having been part of the team to build it and disassemble it for shipping, and will therefore see the installation through,” officials told CTV News.

Earlier this week, both Minister of Labour David Piccini and Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli released a letter saying they were “extremely concerned” about the use of international workers linked to the project.

When speaking to reporters, Piccini said point blank the hiring of workers was a federal process, but that he knows the work can be done by Ontarians.

“While we appreciate the need for a select number of workers with unique skills and intellectual property knowledge to help build such a sophisticated plant, this must be limited to situations where it is absolutely necessary,” the ministers wrote.

“Ontario has one of the most skilled workforces in the world, and thousands of talented men and women are fully capable of performing these jobs. They stand ready to get to work.”

In a statement to CTV News Toronto Fridy afternoon, Fedeli said he spoke with NextStar's CEO to confirm that the company's "network of external suppliers will use up to 900 highly skilled, temporary foreign workers to assist in assembling and installing equipment for Canada's first battery manufacturing facility."

"These workers will also assist with training 700 Ontario workers to equip them with net new skills that will lay the groundwork for work on future projects of this kind as we transition to building the cars of the future," the statement reads. 

"To be clear, these temporary workers will come to Windsor to perform this highly specialized work, upskill Ontario workers, and then return home."

NextStar has committed to creating 2,500 full-time positions for Canadian workers to operate the Stellantis plant, as well as 2,300 more jobs during construction.

The plant, which is being funded jointly by the federal and provincial government, is expected to open sometime next year. Top Stories

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