“To help Canada meet the urgent need for face masks for health care professionals and for other Canadians, GM Canada is preparing portions of the Oshawa plant to produce face masks based on the GM production model already working in Michigan,” GM Canada said in a prepared statement released Friday. “We plan to manufacture approximately one million masks per month at cost for the Canadian government with an estimate of 50 employees supporting two shifts of production.”
The Oshawa Assembly plant shut down its vehicle assembly line in December of last year, though a small section of the facility remains up and running for stamping operations and other small parts production. The plant is not currently equipped to produce face masks, but the automaker will work with Canadian labor union Unifor to prepare it for face mask production in the coming weeks.
“The project still requires completion of additional work with our governments and our Unifor partners and we will provide updates as we get ready to begin production,” GM Canada added.
Last week, Oshawa MPP Jennifer French sent a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford urging him to utilize the empty space at Oshawa Assembly to produce PPE. French was inspired by GM’s efforts to produce face masks, medical gowns and other much needed medical supplies at its Warren Transmission plant in Michigan and believed GM Canada could carry out a similar operation at Oshawa Assembly.
“We have a clear opportunity in Oshawa to rise to the challenge and manufacture what is needed during this unprecedented challenge,” French’s letter said. “The General Motors plant in Oshawa sits nearly empty, while an experienced, skilled and motivated workforce is ready and raring to keep frontline workers and communities protected in this fight.”
It’s not clear when GM Canada may begin producing face masks in Oshawa, though the American arm of the company managed to get its face mask production in Warren up and running in just a few weeks’ time.
Canada had 42,750 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of this writing. Quebec has been the hardest hit by the virus, with 21,838 of the country’s confirmed cases in the province. Ontario has the second most at 13,519 confirmed cases.