Supporting public transit and protecting jobs in Thunder Bay

From: Infrastructure Canada

Canada is a world leader in transit manufacturing, including the production of subway, light rail and zero-emission vehicles, and workers are employed in this sector right across the country. All orders of government are committed to supporting these workers and their families and protecting good, middle-class jobs.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North, Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs and Member of Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River, and John Tory, Mayor of Toronto announced that the Governments of Canada and Ontario signed a deal to support funding of additional electric, zero-emission streetcars in Toronto and sustain transit vehicle manufacturing capacity at Alstom’s manufacturing facility in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

As a part of this deal, which is subject to Treasury Board approval, the Government of Canada would provide up to $180 million in funding to enable the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to purchase a total of 60 zero-emission streetcars and expand their Hillcrest storage facility in Toronto. The Government of Ontario is also investing $180 million and the City of Toronto is investing $208 million towards the streetcars and facility upgrades, for a total investment of $568 million. The TTC will procure these streetcars from an existing competitively-procured contract with Alstom, which acquired Bombardier Transportation on January 29. Fulfilling the TTC’s immediate need for 60 additional streetcars will help sustain the Thunder Bay plant in the short term, and could also create a bridge to longer term transit procurement projects.

Under TTC’s existing contract with Alstom, TTC will be able to secure a product order with the plant, protecting hundreds of highly-skilled workers’ jobs at a world-class facility. Separate from the purchase of additional streetcars, Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible for GO Transit operations, will also continue discussions with Alstom under their existing maintenance contract for the refurbishment of additional GO bi-level coaches. When at full capacity, the Alstom plant is Thunder Bay’s largest private sector employer, sustaining high quality, middle class jobs for hundreds of families.

The plant and its workers have always been part of fulfilling the country’s manufacturing needs, from life-saving ventilators to trains, buses and planes. The road to economic recovery includes cleaner, electrified public transit and Canadian manufacturing workers continue to be a part of the solution. Canada has the skilled workforce, expertise, manufacturing and raw materials needed to make the most of the next zero-emission vehicle revolution.

The purchase of new streetcars will also benefit commuters and families in Toronto who rely on public transit as their only viable option to get around the city. Replacing aging infrastructure and boosting capacity will shorten commute times and help residents travel safely and reliably. Cleaner transit cuts pollution, raises air quality and improves public health. By electrifying our public transit system and linking it to cycling and walking paths, we are investing in a critical solution to climate change and helping to drive Canada and the world to net zero emissions.

Investing in public transit infrastructure will build strong communities across the country and deliver a better quality of life for all Canadians. The government will continue to invest in projects that best support our recovery, create middle class jobs and economic growth, and help us reach our climate targets. Together, we can create a Canada that is cleaner, more competitive, and more resilient for generations to come.

Quotes

“Supporting the Toronto Transit Commission’s purchase of 60 new electric streetcars for Toronto, built in Thunder Bay, is a win-win situation for Canadians. This project will not only protect good, middle-class jobs in Ontario, it will also help Toronto residents who rely on public transit to get around quickly, safely and reliably. The road to economic recovery includes cleaner, electrified public transit that cuts pollution and helps Canada drive to net zero emissions by 2050, and Canadian workers continue to be a part of the solution. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, tackles climate change and builds more inclusive communities.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Investments like the one announced today support job creation and our long-term prosperity, and reinforce Canada’s position as a leader in clean transportation. Canada has the expertise and drive to make the green, electrified vehicles the world needs – and we know that advanced manufacturing can help us reach our economic and climate objectives. That is why we are pleased to see Alstom manufacturing these zero-emission streetcars, which will ensure a healthier and more prosperous future for our communities.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The announcement of more than $12 billion in federal investment for public transit will support good quality jobs for workers at the Alstom plant. Local families have been waiting for this good news. By building green public transit infrastructure in the Toronto area, we all benefit with a strong middle class. This announcement is another step in ensuring a economic recovery for our communities.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North

“I am very happy to see this funding deal materialize. Securing new contracts for the Thunder Bay plant has been my top priority since my election in 2019, and I have worked closely with my counterparts at all levels of government on this. Today is a great day for the workers of Thunder Bay.”

Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River

“This is good news for Toronto and Thunder Bay. Streetcars are an important and critical part of Toronto’s transit system – the largest transit system in Canada. This is the right thing to do right now. I’m proud to have worked to bring the City, the province, and the federal government together to make this investment. This will make sure we have the streetcars we need to keep our transit system running in the future and make necessary upgrades to the TTC’s Hillcrest Facility. This is another example of the transit infrastructure investments we can make and the jobs that are created when all governments work together.”

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto

“I want to thank both the Federal and Provincial Governments. I am pleased to have worked with Minister McKenna and Minister Mulroney, and along side the many other key partners who have advocated for Alstom in Thunder Bay, and who have lead us to today’s announcement. Thunder Bay’s Alstom Plant is a critical part of our local and provincial economy. As a City, we look forward to continuing the work of ensuring a long and successful future for Alstom in Thunder Bay.”

Bill Mauro, Mayor of Thunder Bay

“Workers are at the heart of Canada’s recovery. I want to thank Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister McKenna and the local Thunder Bay MPs for their unwavering support in the fight to keep the Alstom facility open and protect good, union jobs. By ordering new public transit vehicles from this plant, not only are they protecting jobs at Thunder Bay’s largest employer, they are ensuring better public transit across Canada and helping to secure our country’s electric vehicle manufacturing future.”

Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor

“On behalf of our employees in Thunder Bay and across Canada, Alstom thanks our government partners for their work to prioritize transit projects in Ontario. We welcome this opportunity to build 60 additional streetcars for the TTC and to contribute to the overhaul of bi-level cars for Metrolinx. Today’s announcement will allow us to maintain jobs and expertise for our skilled workforce in Thunder Bay and to strengthen our country’s rail ecosystem.”

Souheil Abihanna, President of Alstom Canada

Quick facts

  • The Toronto Transit Commission is planning to purchase 60 streetcars and expand their Hillcrest storage facility at an estimated cost of $568 million. The up to $180 million in federal funding is conditional on receiving Treasury Board approval, on the project meeting program requirements, and on the project receiving support from the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto for the remaining costs. The new streetcars would be delivered beginning in 2023.

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada has spent over $13 billion in more than 1,300 public transit projects across Canada. These investments have helped build more than 240 km of new public transit subway and light rail line, purchase over 300 electric buses, and create almost 500 km of active transportation trails, bike and pedestrian lanes and recreational paths.

  • On February 10, the Prime Minister announced a plan for $14.9 billion in new public transit funding over eight years, including $3 billion in ongoing annual transit funding beginning in 2026-27.

  • Through the Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada is already investing $28.7 billion to support public transit projects, including $5 billion available for investment through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

  • In October, as part of the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s three-year, $10 billion Growth Plan, the government announced that $1.5 billion of the available funding will be used to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure so Canadians can have cleaner commutes.

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