Poilievre Conservatives condemn Ottawa for subsidizing employment of foreign workers

'Justin’s $44 billion taxpayer subsidy to multinational corporations is being used to hire foreign replacement workers, taking jobs from Canadian union workers,’ wrote Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre in a social media post.

Poilievre Conservatives condemn Ottawa for subsidizing employment of foreign workers
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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The Poilievre Conservatives are livid with Ottawa for permitting companies receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies to hire temporary foreign workers.

On Thursday, Honda acknowledged it would hire foreign workers from Japan to help construct its Alliston, Ontario, facility. NextStar earlier confirmed it would hire South Korean workers at its factory in Windsor. 

The Official Opposition are alleging the Trudeau Liberals did not tie billions in subsidies to guaranteed employment for Canadian auto workers, reported iPolitics.

“Months ago, when Common Sense Conservatives first raised the alarm that these jobs were being given to foreign replacement workers, Trudeau and his Liberal Ministers lied and attacked those who spoke out about it,” reads a statement from the Poilievre Conservatives.

They claimed these contracts contained commercially-sensitive information that was not privy to the public.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Liberal committee members have repeatedly dodged questions on how many foreign workers would be employed at the plant. 

The company told iPolitics last Monday it currently has 79 foreign workers on site and the remaining 1,896 positions would be filled by Canadian workers. It is expected to start module production later this year and fuel cell production in 2025.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Building Trades Union (CBTU) claimed NextStar delegated work to 50 foreign workers initially promised to Canadians.

“This has never been a case of ‘knowledge transfer’ or ‘specialized knowledge’ — this is the brazen displacement of Canadian workers in favour of international workers, by major international corporations thumbing their nose at both the Government of Canada, taxpayers and our skilled trades workers,” reads the letter, signed by the CBTU’s executive director Sean Strickland.

NextStar denied the accusations.

“To ensure NextStar Energy’s success as Canada’s first large-scale EV battery manufacturing plant, the Company must temporarily rely on the best know-how and experience, including global talent to educate, install, test, validate and deploy the latest state-of-the-art and most advanced technologies available,” reads a statement by Nextstar.

“This knowledge is imported, when necessary, and transferred to the local workforce to allow the plant to flourish and compete in a globally fierce environment.”

The company had two dozen job openings on its website for technicians, supervisors and legal administrators with “fluency in Korean” last fall. 

Windsor police announced some 1,600 South Koreans would relocate to work at the plant.

Irek Kusmierczyk, parliamentary secretary to the employment minister, earlier clarified that 900 foreign workers would work alongside 700 Canadians to install 300 machines for the factory.

“Why?” he posed. “Because this is a new industry.” Champagne claimed, “we’ve never done batteries in North America.”

Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre quickly pounced on the federal government for the corporate subsidies and the lack of guarantees to hire local labour.

“Justin’s $44 billion taxpayer subsidy to multinational corporations is being used to hire foreign replacement workers, taking jobs from Canadian union workers,” Poilievre posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“Your money. Foreign jobs,” he said. “Justin Trudeau is not worth the cost.”

“This is just more proof of Trudeau’s failure to stand up for workers,” added the Tories.

In 2022, NextStar Energy, a joint venture between LG and Stellantis, and the company running the factory, committed to hiring 2,500 Canadians once the plant became operational in 2024, and 2,300 more during construction.

The CBTU remains hopeful that EV manufacturers will access local unionized construction workers to build their facilities. 

However, the Commons government operations committee opposed efforts to disclose the $15 billion boondoggle, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

To make matters worse, Honda, unlike NextStar, reportedly never signed a contract with the federal government to access $15 billion in subsidies for the Alliston plant.

“Canadians can’t trust that Trudeau’s announcement of a $5 billion subsidy for Honda will be any different,” said the Poilievre Conservatives.

As of writing, the company has 40 Japanese workers at Alliston that already employs 4,200 people. The expansion project will create 1,000 more jobs, the company said.

The CBTU has since engaged Honda on a memorandum of understanding around job opportunities for local workers.

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