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Honda, Ontario government investing $857M in Alliston plants

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne during a photo-op at the Honda of Canada plant in Alliston November 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Aaron Harris)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne during a photo-op at the Honda of Canada plant in Alliston November 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Aaron Harris)

ALLISTON - 

Ontario will pump $85.7 million over five years into Honda in Alliston to retain thousands of auto sector jobs, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.

The partnership has secured an $857-million investment by Honda in its Ontario operations that could have gone to the U.S., she said.

“So what that means is that through this partnership we’re helping to protect 4,000 good jobs here in Alliston and we’re supporting thousands of jobs and new opportunities for people along Ontario’s robust auto supply chain,” Wynne said Thursday.

The public investment in the auto sector plant is unusual in that it doesn’t come with commitments for new jobs.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid said he expects that hundreds of jobs will be created and thousands saved in the auto supply chain.

“Retaining jobs is just as important as gaining (jobs),” Duguid said.

Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson, who represents the area, said there are times when governments must strategically partner with companies but he believes Honda was prepared to make the investment even without taxpayer money.

In previous conversations with Honda officials, they were more concerned with the high cost of hydro, WSIB premiums and taxes in Ontario, he said.

“To just pick a Honda and allow mills in Northern Ontario to close isn’t the way to go,” Wilson said, calling for a reduction in business costs such as electricity.

Honda Canada president and CEO Jerry Chenkin said the Canadian operation must compete with facilities in other jurisdictions.

”Without your support I’m not sure we could have done this,” Chenkin told Wynne.

The $857-million investment will allow the Alliston plants to lead the company’s worldwide strategy to develop the equipment and processes that will form the manufacturing basis of the next generation Honda Civic for all its plants worldwide, he said.

This commitment represents the first time that Honda has located a lead plant outside Japan, Wynne said.

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