GM closed the sprawling, 5.1 million sq. ft. Oshawa Assembly plant last year, though it still uses a small section of the floor space for metal stamping and other manufacturing operations. In a letter sent to Ford’s office this week, French suggested leveraging the unused floor space to manufacture PPE and ventilators as the province continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
“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.”
French pointed out that GM is using the empty Warren Transmission plant in Michigan to make face masks and has retooled its Kokomo, Indiana components plant to make ventilators. She went on to put the onus on GM Canada step up to the plate to help the province in a similar fashion.
“General Motors can make a huge difference in Ontario’s fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people protected during this global pandemic,” the letter also said. “This is not an ask for Oshawa – this is an ask for Canada.”
In a statement sent to local publication Oshawa Express, GM Canada pointed out that it is already making medical face shields at the Ontario Technical University and leveraging its parts operations at the Oshawa Plant to deliver them.
“We have our engineers supporting Ontario Tech University and (Ontario Power Generation) on the development of medical face shields and our first delivery of donated personal protective equipment is being picked up soon by the Public Health Agency of Canada from our Oshawa parts plant,” the company said. “We also have Canadian suppliers helping with the GM partnership with Ventec in the U.S. to manufacture ventilators.”
The automaker added that it is currently “looking at a number of other ways we can help and will share those details when appropriate.”
Ontario currently has 9,525 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of this writing – the second most of any Canadian province. Ontario is behind only Quebec in this regard, which had 15,857 confirmed cases at the time of publication.