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Decisions needed now to secure Bombardier’s future –



THUNDER BAY – With more layoffs announced at the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant, chief operating officer for Bombardier Transportation in the Americas, David Van der Wee, said decisions about securing more work in the future need to be made now.

“We are at the point right now at the end of 2021, there is simply nothing left in the pipeline,” he said.

“We have a problem. It’s today’s problem. It’s not tomorrow’s problem. It’s not something for the end of 2021. This is a manufacturing system and in that kind of system, the decision you make today will only have an impact a year from now.”

Van der Wee was in Thunder Bay on Wednesday to inform the workers at the local plant that 125 people will be laid off starting in mid-October as work slows down on 36 bi-level cars and the manufacturing of components for ventilators winds down in the next two months.

An additional 75 workers will be laid off in early 2021 as work concludes on roof assemblies for Eglinton Crosstown LVRs and retrofitting vehicles with additional communications equipment for Metrollinx.

“Today I had to give the very sad news that even though we’ve been working very hard to reinforce the pipeline by winning new contracts, by moving work from other plants and bringing it in here, and doing retrofits and upgrades for Eglinton Crosstown, that pipeline is diminishing and diminishing rapidly,” Van der Wee said.

The 200 workers being laid off out of the approximately 470 current employees is another devastating blow to the local Bombardier plant, which saw 550 workers laid off last fall when two major contracts concluded at the end of 2019.

The future of the plant in Thunder Bay will rely on securing additional contracts for light rail vehicles to bridge the gap to larger orders from the Toronto Transit Commission.

Bombardier, union members, and municipal officials have been working with the provincial and federal governments to bring these contracts to the local plant.

“I’ve talked to various levels of government,” said Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075. “Individually everyone seems to be online. They all understand it’s important for the city to get that. It’s important for Ontario jobs. It’s important to keep our skill set here. What we need to do is get them all in one room and work out the details.”

But Van der Wee recognizes that things have changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and complicating matters for major transit systems like the TTC.

“Our customers, the transit agencies, TTC, Metrolinx, Go Transit, they are facing incredible challenges just on the operation side to retool, restructure, re-budget to be able to address the current crisis,” he said.

“This creates a lot of new priorities. But at the end of the day, manufacturing jobs, especially in the Thunder Bay region are critical for the province.”

Van der Wee said the TTC contract will serve as a bridge for the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant and help sustain operations until bigger projects as part of Premier Doug Ford’s transit plan come forward.

“It’s about creating a bridge, it’s about creating a viable operation, and it’s about putting ourselves in a position to compete and win for the next series of big contracts that are up coming,” Van der Wee said. “If we can do that, I have all the confidence in the world that this facility will be able to compete and able to win.”

Another variable complicating matters is the potential acquisition of Bombardier transportation by the Paris-based company, Alstom.

“The process is happening on schedule,” Van der Wee said. “I know for a certainty that the best position for this plant under a transfer to new ownership is to show a commitment pipeline of projects that are profitable, that bring value to our customers, and if we can do that we will be in a good position.”

Negotiations will continue to secure more contracts in the hopes of not only sustaining work at the local plant, but also securing its future down the road.

“The more people the better it will be for the economy,” Pasqualino said. “But also for getting more contracts. It’s a lot easier to go from 500 to 800 workers than to go from 50 to 350. It’s really important to have the base here.”

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Struggling outdoor equipment retailer MEC opposes efforts to pause sale to Kingswood –



Beleaguered outdoor recreation retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op is opposing a proposed delay of the company’s sale to a U.S. private investment firm, saying there is “significant urgency” to closing the deal.

Kevin Harding with the Save MEC campaign filed an application in a B.C. court last week to adjourn the sale to California-based Kingswood Capital Management, part of an effort to preserve the retailer’s status as a co-operative.

The group said it wants to “explore alternative options to address MEC’s liquidity issues,” including selling real estate, obtaining operating loans and bringing in a credit card rewards program.

In a response filed Monday, the company doubted the group’s ability to help address MEC’s cash flow issues, noting that the proposed sources of potential funding don’t involve “concrete commitments or realistic options.”

The Vancouver-based company said given the number of factors that need to be addressed before the sale closes, including negotiations with landlords, the proposed adjournment would put the deal in jeopardy.

MEC said it’s urgent for the sale to close before the retailer experiences “significant weekly cash flow losses,” which may worsen with rising COVID-19 rates.

The company added there is a “real risk” that a delay could lead to the closure of MEC’s operations.

“The transaction has to close in a timely manner before MEC’s forecasted losses escalate and in order for the purchaser to take advantage of the upcoming holiday sales periods,” MEC said in the court filing.

The 49-year-old retailer traces its roots back to a group of West Coast mountaineers, who came up with the idea of opening a Canadian outdoor recreation store during a climbing trip to Mount Baker in Washington state.

The grassroots co-operative officially launched in 1971 with six members and about $65 of operating capital.

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Here is the list of pharmacies offering COVID-19 tests in London and region – London Free Press (Blogs)



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Thirteen Shoppers Drug Mart stores in nine Southwestern Ontario cities are seeing their first COVID-19 testing clients Tuesday, days after Queen’s Park rolled out pharmacy-based testing in harder-hit areas of Ontario.

The pharmacies are testing high-priority, asymptomatic people, Shoppers Drug Mart said in a statement Tuesday. The testing is available by appointment only.

“Patients who fit the high-priority, asymptomatic criteria are asked to contact the pharmacy directly to be pre-screened,” the company said.

Though Rexall has launched COVID-19 testing in Toronto-area and Ottawa pharmacies, the company has no imminent plans to expand its testing pilot program to pharmacies in Southwestern Ontario, Rexall said in a statement Tuesday.

The pharmacy-based COVID-19 testing comes as assessment centres in London and across Ontario struggle with unprecedented lineups and wait times for testing. Last week, the province tightened the rules for people seeking testing at assessment centres to those with symptoms and those in close contact with a confirmed case.

Here are the Shoppers Drug Mart stores in the London region offering COVID-19 tests starting Tuesday:


  • 395 Southdale Rd. E
  • 603 Fanshawe Park Rd. W
  • 3090 Colonel Talbot Rd.

St. Thomas

  • 107 Edward St.


  • 333 Dundas St.


  •  511 Huron St.


  • 320 Colborne St. W.


  • 1206 Michigan Ave.

Bright’s Grove

  • 2600 Lakeshore Rd.


  • 416 St Clair St.


  • 3100 Howard Ave.
  • 7720 Tecumseh Rd. E
  • 1760 Huron Church Rd.

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Canada’s deficit to hit $330B as coronavirus lands ‘permanent’ economic impact – Global News



Alberta’s auditor general says the province does a poor job of anticipating and preparing for disasters.

In a report released this morning, Doug Wylie says Alberta doesn’t have a consistent plan for evaluating the risk the province faces from disasters such as floods or wildfires.

Read more:
Southern Alberta storm caused almost $1.2B in damage, 4th most costly Canadian natural disaster

He says the government began preparing one in 2014.

But the effort floundered after different ministries couldn’t agree on the severity of the risks posed by different hazards.

Wylie also found that many local municipalities have large gaps in their hazard assessments and many don’t have a risk assessment at all.

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Northwestern Alberta communities support each other through fires and floods

Northwestern Alberta communities support each other through fires and floods

Read more:
Alberta’s auditor general confirms review of province’s COVID-19 response

Wylie points out that factors such as climate change are increasing disaster risks in Alberta.

More to come…

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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