Ontario's NDP is calling on the Liberal government to include more Canadian content requirements on provincially-funded transit projects.
NDP Labour Critic Taras Natyshak visited the city's Bombardier plant Monday morning where he said the province should prioritize home-based, homegrown jobs.
"When I travel the province in communities like Thunder Bay or even in my community of Windsor, when I talk to people in our regions who are involved in the manufacturing process, they want to know if there is a dollar to be spent through the provincial coffers, it goes to supporting domestic production and goes to supporting good jobs in our communities," he said.
Earlier this month, MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) introduced a private member's bill that if passed would see municipalities require 60 per cent of the cost of transit purchases be made in Ontario as well as have final assembly be done in Ontario.
It's Mauro second attempt at increasing provincial content in transit buys. Under former premier Dalton McGuinty, Mauro introduced similar legislation, but the content requirement was reduced to 25 per cent.
Natyshak is accusing Mauro of electioneering, saying the private member's bill comes too late to influence the government.
"It doesn't really bode well for the government's seriousness in terms of taking this policy and running with it," he said.
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Mauro said he introduced the bill because it's important for the community and the Liberals have created 1,200 new jobs at the local Bombardier plant as the result of their investments in mass transit.
"I am simply trying to build on that," he said in a telephone interview Monday.
"On this particular issue, somebody needs to ask the NDP why didn't they introduce their own private member’s bills or their own legislation trying to make this happen instead of just getting away with these ridiculous comments," said Mauro.
The Buy in Canada for Mass Transit Vehicles Act will be voted on this Thursday.
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said raising the Ontario content requirement is a necessity.
The plant has been building bilevel cars for 30 years and initially most of the vehicles were built at the facility.
"Now it's being chiseled away," said Pasqualino, noting the wiring harnesses are built in Mexico and the air conditioning units are built in China.
The doors are also outsourced outside of Canada.
"I don't care what government comes up, but somebody needs to stop it," said Pasqualino.
"These are good jobs. I think we need to keep the quality and keep the people here in Thunder Bay working with Ontario taxpayer dollars.
The NDP have introduced Cancon legislation in 2006 and 2008. Both of those were voted down.