OAKVILLE, Ont. — The federal and Ontario governments are pumping up to $142.5 million into the Ford Motor Company to upgrade its Oakville assembly plant.
The investment comes just days after RBC warned the province could be losing ground to the southern U.S. and Mexico in auto manufacturing.
The Ontario government has offered a grant of up to $70.9 million, while the federal government has committed $71.6 million.
The project comes with a total sticker price of about $700 million and proponents say it will secure more than 2,800 jobs.
The money will pay for a new "global platform" that will give the company flexibility to build vehicles for the world market and to change models quickly.
"That provides the platform, literally and figuratively, for future growth," Wynne said Thursday. "So I'm very, very excited about the investment today and I'm very optimistic about the auto sector in Ontario."
RBC's provincial outlook for September says the number of cars and trucks produced in Ontario was down 7.9% compared to the same period in 2012.
"Our concern is that Ontario's relative position in this industry may become more permanently impaired unless investment in capacity starts to trend higher," the RBC outlook says.
Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the new amalgamated union that includes CAW members, rejected the argument that Ontario can't compete with lower wage jurisdictions.
"The reality is Canada is a great place to build cars," Dias said. "We've got the skills, we've got the technology, we've got the people."
The auto sector needs the government to participate, and Canada is beginning to understand that, he said.
"And frankly, they need to do more," Dias said.
Wynne, questioned about a $71-million investment at a time when the province is battling a stubborn multibillion-dollar deficit, said putting tax money into the auto sector pays for itself.
"The immediate payoff is that there's an optimism and a commitment on the part of the company to be here," she said. "But we'll see quick payoff in coming years as these jobs are preserved, as people are able to build a future."
The premier also said she doesn't support right-to-work legislation that can be found in some U.S. states.
Right-to-work laws allow workers to opt out of paying union dues. Supporters argue this results in a lower rate of unionization and higher economic and employment growth. Unions and other opponents say right-to-work legislation simply drives wages down.