Magna says no new plants for Canada, cites Ontario energy costs – by Dana Flavelle (Toronto Star – May 9, 2014)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

 Ontario energy, pension costs a concern, the company says. 

Magna International Inc. says it has no plans to open any new plants in Canada despite a lower dollar, chief executive officer Don Walker says. The nearly 10 per cent decline in the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. greenback has helped make the Aurora-based global auto parts supplier more cost competitive, Walker told the company’s annual general meeting Thursday.

But the company said it’s concerned about Ontario’s industrial electricity rates and proposed pension plan, along with the future of its auto assembly plants.

“I’m worried about electricity prices in Ontario, where all of our plants are located,” Walker told a press conference after the meeting at The Westin Prince Hotel in Toronto. Magna operates 46 auto plants in Canada, all in Ontario where the major auto makers’ assembly plants are located.

Walker said he hoped whoever wins the Ontario election on June 12 takes action to reduce energy costs for the corporate sector.

Magna is also concerned about the proposed new Ontario Pension Plan, a key plank in Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s election platform. The plan aims to close a shortfall in Canadians’ retirement savings.

But Magna said the plan would add $1,900 a year per employee to the company’s costs.

“That’s a pretty significant cost to us,” chief financial officer Vincent Galifi said, noting the company has 19,000 employees in the province.

Walker also said the Canadian and Ontario governments need to invest in auto assembly plants if they want to create and keep auto industry jobs.

“If the assembly plants all go it’ll be a lot more difficult (for Magna) to remain in Canada,” he said.

Earlier this year, Chrysler backed out of talks with the federal and Ontario governments about incentives to expand its plants in Windsor and Brampton, saying the plan had become a political football.

Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak had slammed the governing Liberals for allowing Chrysler to hold provincial taxpayers “ransom,” calling the incentives “corporate welfare.”

Walker, who is also head of the industry-wide Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, said governments need to realize investments in auto plants pay big dividends by creating jobs and increasing tax revenues.

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