General Motors of Canada Ltd. is expected to announce 1,000 new jobs at its engineering centre in Oshawa on Friday, sources said this week.
Details remain sketchy. The company would say only that it will be making an important announcement at the engineering centre, which has received a mandate to help develop technology related to driverless and connected cars.
A little more than a year ago, GM said it was adding 100 more engineers at the facility.
The announcement is unrelated to the fate of its assembly plants in Oshawa. Last year, GM Canada’s president, Stephen Carlisle, said, “Canada has the bench strength and green technology and the connected car is where the puck is going to be.”
Industry observers have raised concerns about the plants, which lost production of the Camaro last year at a cost of 1,000 assembly-line jobs.
The new jobs would probably be spread across a number of research facilities, including GM’s new office in Waterloo’s Communitech innovation centre, sources said. Some could also be located within GM’s newly acquired property in Toronto’s east end.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne are expected to be at Friday’s announcement.
GM’s engineering centre in Oshawa currently employs 250 people, who work on projects related to “infotainment systems” as well as connecting the car to mobile networks, and driver-assist features.
The auto industry is in a race to attract new consumers with enhanced safety features and also to meet government-mandated fuel efficiency standards.
GM Canada officials, responding to the Star’s request for comment, said only that the company would be making an announcement at the Canadian Engineering Centre.
“While there is speculation about the news, GM Canada is looking forward to sharing the news during the event on Friday, June 10th and we cannot confirm or speculate in the meantime,” confirmed Adria MacKenzie, manager of communications.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry told the Star he was thrilled about the coming news, though he didn’t yet know the substance of it.
“The only thing I can say is that I’ll be attending the announcement on Friday morning,” he said. “And I’m always keen about the excitement of a General Motors announcement in Oshawa.”
With the decline in the auto industry in recent years and the loss of assembly-line jobs, a promise of 1,000 new jobs would be well-received in the community.
“I was excited when I got the invitation. The car industry is a big part of Oshawa. It’s part of our history,” Henry said. “And any good news announcement is a great news announcement for our residents, but also for all of Canada. I can’t really tell you any more because I don’t know anything.”
GM committed to invest $850 million in research and development in Canada after the Canadian and Ontario governments gave the automaker $10.8 billion to help it get through the worst of the U.S.-led financial crisis of 2008-09.
The federal government sold its General Motors shares for $3.26 billion in 2015. The province of Ontario also sold its remaining GM holdings in 2015.
– With files from Debra Black