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GM closure an example of technical changes ‘disrupting’ Canadian industries: expert – Global News

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The General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., shuttered this week, ending an era for the motor city. Experts say the closure of the plant, which led to layoffs affecting thousands of workers, signifies more than just that.

Craig Alexander, chief economist at Deloitte Canada, told Global News the Canadian labour market is “doing well,” but technical changes are affecting workers.

“A lot of workers are being affected by technical changes that are disrupting business models as a result.”

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“We have a lot of workers that are ultimately going to need to be retrained, develop new skills, so that they can move into the industries that are experiencing the strongest job growth in the future,” he added.

GM announced in November last year that it would wind down production at the plant, which has been in operation since 1953, while the company first started producing vehicles in the city east of Toronto in 1918. The closure means about 2,600 unionized employees will lose their jobs, though about 300 are being saved through a $170-million investment by GM to turn part of the operation into a parts plant.

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GM identifies jobs, training programs for workers impacted by Oshawa assembly plant closure

Alexander said having workers who are losing jobs and need to retrain can be “detrimental” to the Canadian economy.

“We’ve actually seen globally in things like Brexit and the rise of Trump … that when people get left behind, they become frustrated that the system, the establishment isn’t working for them, they want political change — and sometimes those changes are not healthy,” he said.

While technological changes in the economy have always been present, increasing global competition for business makes it more difficult for workers to keep up, the economist noted.

“I think what we’re seeing is fundamental change in the structure of the Canadian economy,” Alexander said. “When we look at industries driving growth, it isn’t the industries that drove growth in the past.”






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GM prepares to shutter Oshawa plant after more than 100 years in the ‘Motor City’


GM prepares to shutter Oshawa plant after more than 100 years in the ‘Motor City’

Greig Mordue, an associate engineering professor at McMaster University, highlighted the change that’s occurred specifically with the Oshawa GM plant.

“At one point in time, Oshawa made a million cars a year. It was responsible for about a third of the automotive production at its peak year,” he said. “Oshawa has had a long, slow, difficult come-down from those peak years.”

Mordue noted Canada’s auto industry doesn’t necessarily have to get left behind.

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“You can build electric vehicles, once you decide how you want to build them, in any location,” he said, noting the same is possible for autonomous vehicles.


READ MORE:
GM retirees crushed following Oshawa plant closure

However, Mordue acknowledged that laid-off workers will have difficulty adjusting to the change, retraining and finding jobs.

Roy Eagen is one of those parts workers. Walking out of the plant on Wednesday, his eyes welled with tears, both from the biting cold wind and the emotions of the day.

“It was rough, it was pretty depressing,” he said of watching the last truck frame go down the line.

GM has been working to help employees find other jobs, while about 1,200 of the employees qualify for full retirement packages.






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GM Canada VP looks ahead to future of company in Oshawa


GM Canada VP looks ahead to future of company in Oshawa

“The employee base that we’ve had over the years has accomplished so much, and we owe it to them to help them transition as best we can,” said David Paterson, vice-president of corporate affairs at GM Canada.

He said it was a sad day, but with Oshawa only operating at about a third of capacity and no vehicles ready to assign to it, the company felt it had to wind down production.

Along with the parts conversion, GM is also building a track at the Oshawa facility to test electric and autonomous vehicles as part of a major transition in the auto industry.

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GM employees unsure of new vision for automotive plant in Oshawa

The auto giant said this month that several employers have identified about 2,000 jobs that will become open in Durham Region in 2019 and 2020 — many of them related to the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant southeast of Oshawa.

The company has also identified 300 openings for auto technicians at GM dealerships in Ontario and 100 jobs that will be open at other GM facilities in Ontario.

Paterson said the company would ensure its employees get retraining. Durham College is expected to establish a confidential internet portal in the new year to help auto workers identify job openings and begin plans to take retraining courses offered by a consortium of colleges.






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GM employees reflect on the day the company announced the closure


GM employees reflect on the day the company announced the closure

Don Lovisa, the president of the college, explained that several companies have reached out saying they need employees.

“Companies approach us and say we need people, train these people, tell them about our jobs, we’ll hire them,” he told Global News.

He acknowledged, however, that it will be a challenge for older workers to retrain or in some cases return to school, and then settle in to new jobs.

— With files from Global News’ Jeff Semple and the Canadian Press

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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U.S. President Joe Biden steps aside as Democratic candidate, ending re-election bid

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WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden is removing his name as the Democratic candidate in the November election following weeks of mounting pressure over the 81-year-old’s mental acuity and ability to win the faceoff with Republican rival Donald Trump.

Biden says it has been his greatest honour to serve but he believes it is in the best interest of his party to stand down and focus solely on fulfilling his duties as president for the rest of his term.

Growing numbers of Democrats were urging Biden to drop out following a disastrous debate performance against Trump and multiple missteps on the world stage during the recent NATO leaders’ summit in Washington.

Biden told supporters Friday he was ready to get back on the road this week after recovering from COVID-19, which he contracted during a critical time for his campaign.

Biden criticized Trump’s acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention, saying it presented a dark vision for the future, and indicated he would forge ahead with his own campaign.

But he issued a social media post on Sunday afternoon saying he would not be running, adding he will speak to the nation and provide more detail later this week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Joy in Newfoundland after ‘Lucky 7’ fishers survive harrowing days lost at sea

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NEW-WES-VALLEY, N.L. – There was a powerful word being repeated in the joyful Newfoundland community of New-Wes-Valley on Sunday: “Miracle.”

Over and over, residents out walking or chatting to one another in local stores said the fact that seven fishermen from the area had somehow survived roughly 48 hours in a life raft in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and were found by search and rescue crews was nothing short of miraculous.

“It’s once in a lifetime you’ll see something like this, when all the people survive,” said Frank Granter, who worked for the Canadian Coast Guard for 35 years. He was out walking through the sunny, seaside community on Sunday afternoon, stopping to talk to neighbours about the rescue ahead of an evening parade to celebrate the men’s survival.

Daphne Crocker leaned over her balcony and spread out her hands. “What a mighty God we serve,” she said about the fishermen coming home.

Granter agreed it was a miracle the Lucky 7 returned. “But October, November, it would have been a different story,” he said.

The Elite Navigator fishing boat and its crew seemed to vanish on Wednesday night. The craft was reported missing on Thursday after transmitting its final signal at around 8:30 p.m. the night before, the Canadian Coast Guard said. The vessel had caught fire and sank, forcing the crew to hastily disembark and wait for rescue on the life raft.

A massive search soon followed, involving four coast guard ships, a Cormorant helicopter, a Hercules aircraft and many local fishing vessels.

In New-Wes-Valley, which is an amalgamation of three small fishing communities along Newfoundland’s northeast coast, people braced for the worst. Fishing is among Canada’s deadliest professions, and tragedy is a common thread linking people in fishing communities across Atlantic Canada.

But on Friday night, out on the Atlantic ocean, searchers saw a light from a flare. It brought them to a life raft, where the seven fishermen — the Lucky 7 — were waiting.

Fisher Toby Peddle was among them. He said he was terrified as he jumped off the sinking fishing boat as it was pulled down into the depths. He can’t swim, he said, and he didn’t have a survival suit on.

“It was either jump and risk drowning or stay and be burned,” he said in an interview Sunday. “There was no time to think about it. I just knew I had to jump.”

He said the captain and another crew member, Jordan Lee King, had made a plan to reach him as soon as they hit the water.

“Jordan had said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll catch you before you even get in the water,’” recalled Peddle.

Sure enough, when Peddle jumped, King kept him afloat and quickly brought him to the raft, the fisherman said.

“I was relieved I made it to the raft. I couldn’t swim a stroke to save my life,” he said.

Peddle praised the actions of the captain.

“He did the best job he could have possibly done. He kept everyone calm in the life raft for over 48 hours. He’s a hero.”

“He just kept telling us, ‘We’re going to be fine. They know where we are, they’ll find us,’” he added.

He said it was very hard hearing the sound of helicopters flying overhead and realizing pilots were unable to see the life raft through fog. It was “the worst feeling of all,” he said.

They fired the final smoke flare in the boat at dusk on Friday, and it was spotted by the coast guard, he said. When he saw a helicopter flying overhead, “it was a moment of relief.”

At the wharf in New-Wes-Valley on Sunday afternoon, Peter Barfoot’s phone was pinging relentlessly in his pocket. He is good friends with David Tiller, one of the rescued fishermen, and he’d just launched a fundraising campaign to buy Tiller a new guitar.

The instrument went down with the Elite Navigator and Barfoot said it was “a no-brainer” to mount an effort to buy him a new one. He’d raised about $1,600 by Sunday afternoon.

“They’re heroes,” Barfoot said, shaking his head in disbelief. “How often do you hear this? It was a dire situation that turned into what it is now … They’re alive. They got a second chance at their life.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2024.

— With files from Michael Tutton in Halifax

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Second B.C. university issues trespass notice to pro-Palestinian protesters

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VICTORIA – The University of Victoria in British Columbia says it has begun the process of removing the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, telling protesters they are trespassing on school property.

The school says in its latest encampment update that it has “taken a calm, measured and reasoned approach” to the protest since it was set up on May 1, but administrators “see no further prospect for a successful dialogue.”

On its social media page, protesters naming themselves “People’s Park UVIC” confirm the school has issued them a trespass notice, adding the administration has told them to “vacate by 8 a.m. Monday.”

The group did not specify their plans while asking the public to “stay tuned for updates from camp and plans going forward.”

Protesters at the university have been demanding the school cut financial and academic ties with Israeli entities due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, and the latest development comes about a week after Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C. launched legal action against protesters there for allegedly ignoring a deadline to leave their camp.

Vancouver Island University says it had issued its trespass notice to protesters on July 11.

University of Victoria says in its update that the school had been working toward “a peaceful conclusion of the encampment” since June through facilitated discussions with protesters.

“Unfortunately, we have not successfully achieved agreement on the process and timeline for decampment,” the school update says. ”The university was disappointed to learn of this impasse through social media posts from People’s Park UVic.”

The protest group says on its social media page that protesters “have negotiated in good faith” but described the school’s last proposed resolution as having “no concrete commitments” and containing “ineffective policy” that fails to address what they are calling a genocide in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The group also reposted a statement from July 19, saying it is “unfortunately no surprise to once again witness our administration betraying the integrity of this process and emphasizing that these negotiations have been and always will be on their terms.”

A camp at the University of British Columbia was vacated by protesters voluntarily on July 7.

The recent developments come after an Ontario court granted the University of Toronto an injunction on July 2 that ordered protesters there to dismantle their encampment on the grounds that it is a violation of the school’s property rights.

Legal experts have said the decision sets a powerful precedent and creates a road map for other schools to follow in seeking legal recourse in removing protest encampments on campus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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