General Motors Canada is ramping up production at its Oshawa assembly plant, east of Toronto. It is not to produce cars, but face masks for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
There haven’t been new vehicles rolling off the Oshawa assembly line since December.
But now, as it has done with some U.S. plants, GM is converting some of the Oshawa facility to making masks for frontline workers in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan is to produce 1 million face masks a month and Canada’s autoworkers union, Unifor, has signed off on it.
Unifor President Jerry Dias said the plan has been in the works for a while.
“It’s an incredible thing. I mean, this is a time when as a nation we need to pull together," Dias said. "The auto industry is probably the highest tech industry in the world. So if there’s an industry that can adapt, it would be the auto industry and the auto parts industry. And I think that’s why you’ve seen so many players in the automotive industry step forward.”
Dias also said it means work for about 50 employees, working two shifts, to produce the masks. He said the plant should be up and running in a few weeks.
In Ottawa, the minister of Innovation, Science and Industry praised GM’s move, saying the automaker is stepping up in a big way to retool in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.