That Ontario would appoint an auto industry czar speaks volumes of how quickly this province’s once-mighty auto industry has been diminished.
Ray Tanguay, a former Toyota executive, was given the nod Tuesday. He’s tasked with bringing focus to Ontario’s efforts to not only secure the industry as it exists today, but to help ensure this province remains in the hunt.
It wasn’t that long ago Ontario produced the most automobiles of any jurisdiction in North America. But Michigan and Mexico have surpassed Ontario’s output, and new investment is pouring into Mexico and several southern U.S. states.
In 2014, Ontario produced 2.1 million vehicles, down substantially from the three million produced only a few years ago. Currently, our province is ranked 10th in the world for auto production, down from seventh.
Automobile manufacturing helped build Ontario in the post-war years. To see our relevance within the global manufacturing community diminished is alarming. It speaks to lost jobs, lost taxes and lost opportunities.
In 2014, global automakers announced investments totalling $7 billion for Mexico, including $3.6 billion for three new assembly plants. That compares with $750 million invested in Ontario.
There have been some success stories. Toyota opened its second Ontario plant in September 2008, Ford has boosted production at its Oakville facility, and Chrysler has just spent some $2 billion to retool its minivan plant in Windsor.
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