OSHAWA — You will have to forgive Bill Corrigan for not heading over to Gate 4 of the General Motors plant to mark the final shift and last truck off the famous assembly line.
“It’s just too emotional,” the 62-year-old retired autoworker said Wednesday.
“I would end up in tears.”
The plant, after all, was his work home for 35 years.
“It was my father, John Robert Corrigan’s, place of work for 37 years.”
Needless to say, there are some memories.
“My dad moved to Oshawa from Nova Scotia to work at General Motors and he raised his family here,” said Corrigan. “
I worked there at the same time as him and I raised my six kids in Oshawa.”
They will not be following in their dad and granddad’s footsteps.
“I could see years ago it was going to go this way,” said Bill.
“I knew this plant wasn’t likely going to be here forever.”
They had been building cars, vans and trucks in Oshawa for a century.
“The thing we have always been most proud of is the quality,” said Bill.
“We built the best trucks in the world. I know. I have a GMC Sierra and love it. I helped build it myself. I wasn’t going to buy one that was made at a plant in Mexico.”
So good, he still can’t believe General Motors decided to move on from Oshawa.
“I have to say, as a worker, the company paid us very well and treated us very well,” said Bill.
“But when it comes to this decision the way I see it, it’s corporate greed. This shouldn’t be happening. Sam McLaughlin would be rolling in his grave.”
He even worked with Oshawa’s original car builder’s grandson Paul inside the plant.
“He was a good guy too. I don’t think the McLaughlins should have never let the Americans get their fingers in the pie. They made billions of dollars here and now they want to make even more in Mexico. It doesn’t feel right to me.”
Oshawa, he said, will never be the same.
“This last truck off the line is not going to be as catastrophic to the city with 2,600 full-time workers losing their jobs as it would be if it was 24,000 as it was when I started,” said Bill.
“But there will be an effect. Where are all of those truck drivers going to drop off their parts now? Who around here is going to take them?”
That said, GM Canada Director of Communications Jennifer Wright said that 1,300 of the workers affected are being financially-helped into retirement, 300 workers will continue at a new parts operation that is being built, and the company is assisting the others with finding other skilled employment.
Wright, herself, had raw emotions about the day — she’s worked at GM for 22 years and “started working on the line as well.”
The only thing making this last day bearable is how professional people have been about it.
GM has gone out of its way to wind this down the right way, Unifor’s leadership has been dealing with its members on compassionate grounds because they understand the personal impact, and the workers been highly focused on making sure these final products are held to the same high standards Oshawa has delivered for a century.
It was a nice touch that the very last truck was raffled off to one of the workers who built it — with all proceeds going to charity.
David W. Paterson, vice president of corporate affairs, said that raffle has so far raised over $110,000 for Durham Children’s Aid.
Even though “the new parts operation and test track start-up early next year” will also expand to create even more jobs, he acknowledges “it’s a sad week to be sure.”
A proud week as well.
“I am proud to have worked there,” said Corrigan.
But don’t ask him to see off the final shift.
“It just can’t do it,” he said.
“I won’t be able to keep my composure.”
Toronto opening mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic as ICUs move patients around province – CBC News: The National
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London health chiefs today pledged to speed up vaccinations by opening up to 25 new centres in the capital this week, including a major site in the shadow of Wembley Stadium. With the number of centres due to hit 170 by the weekend, the capital’s most senior doctor urged people to come forward “without delay” for the jab when called. “We’re adding more and more sites as vaccine supplies become available, and staff and volunteers are going the extra mile to vaccinate to those who need it most,” said Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London.
Canada to wait longer than Europe for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – The Globe and Mail
The European Union will have a much shorter interruption in deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine than Canada, despite commitments last week that countries would share equally in a temporary drop in doses.
On Friday, the federal government announced vaccine deliveries to Canada would be cut by half for a four-week period starting Jan. 25. The pharmaceutical giant said the slowdown was needed to allow the company to retool its Belgian plant in order to expand production.
Major-General Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s vaccine logistics, said the loss would be made up in the subsequent weeks, with the company still delivering all four million vaccine doses in the first quarter — as previously committed.
Maj-Gen. Fortin also said that every country that has purchased Pfizer vaccines will be “affected equally.” But after first laying out a three- to four-week slowdown in shipments to European countries, the company later said shipments would resume their original schedule to European Union members the week of Jan. 25.
The vaccine is delayed in Canada as COVID-19 infections continue to rise and as pressure on hospitals remains high in many parts of the country. Ontario reported 3,422 new infections on Sunday, along with 69 deaths. The numbers were based on nearly 60,200 tests.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in an e-mailed statement Sunday that Ottawa has reiterated to Pfizer the importance of Canada returning to its regular delivery schedule of vaccines, but no explanation was provided for the discrepancy.
“I understand and share the concerns of Canadians regarding the temporary delivery delay of Pfizer doses,” Ms. Anand said. “We are once again in touch with representatives from Pfizer to reiterate firmly the importance for Canada to return to our regular delivery schedule as soon as possible.”
Canada was previously expecting to receive 208,650 doses in the last week of January and about 367,000 doses each week in February. Instead, about 655,000 of those doses will be delivered later.
Based on publicly released delivery numbers, the drop will translate to approximately 327,000 people getting their two-shot vaccine later than expected.
The slowdown means Ontario will increase the interval between the two shots needed to maximize the protection provided by the vaccine, from the company-recommended 21 days to up to 42 days. On Friday, British Columbia said it was also evaluating whether it would need to increase the interval between the shots.
Ms. Anand said Pfizer assured the government it is deploying all efforts to return Canada to its original delivery schedule as soon as possible. “This is an evolving situation. As soon as updated information on the delivery of Pfizer doses for Canada is available, we will share it with Canadians,” she said.
Europe had initially been advised it would face a similar delay as Canada. Germany’s Health Ministry had said Friday that Pfizer informed the European Commission it would not be able to fulfill all of its promised deliveries in the next three to four weeks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she “immediately called the CEO of Pfizer.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his press conference that the setback was “out of our hands” and that’s why Canada has contracts with several vaccine developers.
Christina Antoniou, a spokesperson for Pfizer, said in an e-mailed statement Sunday that because of the improvements the company is undertaking to scale up capacity, vaccine shipments will be temporarily affected in late January and early February, but it will allow for a significant increase in late February and March.
“The principle of equity is used when considering allocation of doses worldwide and we expect to have more information in the coming days,” Ms. Antoniou said.
Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said in an e-mailed statement that it is up to the Prime Minister to explain to Canadians why they will not be able to get vaccinated for months after people in other countries, such as the United States.
“It’s up to him to explain why, based on Friday’s news about vaccine delivery delays, we might be looking at many more months of lockdown – with the lost jobs, time with families, and mental health challenges that accompany them – while vaccines are being delivered to countries like the United States. It’s also up to him to find better path forward; if his Plan A has failed, what’s Plan B?” asked Ms. Rempel Garner.
With a report from the Associated Press
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