WOODSTOCK, Ont. (CP) — Despite a global crisis in the manufacturing sector, the Liberals' $1.15-billion job-creation fund will help stem the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Thursday.
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters says Ontario has lost more than 162,000 high-paid manufacturing jobs in the past five years — including 49,000 in the past 12 months — and the opposition parties are accusing Liberals of doing little to protect the jobs.
After touring a new Toyota assembly plant under construction in Woodstock, McGuinty said Ontario has gained jobs under the Liberals, and not just minimum-wage, service-sector work.
''Everybody knows that this is a particularly challenging time for manufacturing jobs in the North American economy,'' McGuinty said. ''We're up against China, India and Mexico.
''We've lost jobs, there's no doubt about it, but for every one job we've lost, we've created three, and over 95 percent of those new jobs pay more than $19.50 an hour, so we're going in the right direction.''
The Toyota plant, which will create 2,000 new jobs when it opens in late 2008, got $70 million in provincial money from the $500-million auto sector fund, which McGuinty said has led to $7 billion in new investments and 7,000 new jobs.
''In order for us to succeed in the manufacturing sector, government can't just cut taxes and stand aside,'' he said. ''You've got to come to the table in a real and meaningful way.
''We want to apply the success and lessons we learned through auto to our broader strategy.''
New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton reacted to McGuinty's job-creation claims by saying the new positions are nowhere near as good for workers or the economy as those that have been lost.
''What I've seen so far in the auto sector is Mr. McGuinty exchanging good union jobs — where people can get decent pay, benefits and a pension in many cases — for jobs where the pay is less, there's very little job security, there's no pension and there are no benefits,'' Hampton said.
''It's hard to see where there's anything to boast about there.''
McGuinty said the so-called ''next generation'' jobs fund will aim to create new manufacturing jobs as well as help tackle climate change by focusing on new technologies.
''We want to build the next-generation clean car here in Ontario,'' he said. ''We want to invest in clean fuels, clean technologies — all those that help us address the global challenge of climate change.
''The world's looking for solutions, and we want to build those solutions right here in Ontario. We want those good jobs here in Ontario.''