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Auto Industry Will Recover – Touts Minister Clement

The automotive industry has been hard hit by the global recession but will remain a driving force across the country and in the City of Oshawa, Minister of Industry Tony Clement has assured business leaders here. “I have sometimes been accused of being an optimist … but let me say this: We will have an auto industry. It may look a bit different than it has in the past, but we will build cars and trucks in Canada, in Oshawa, and I believe that our domestic automakers can once again be competitive,” Clement said at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Durham Economic Prosperity Committee and Organization of Candu Industries.

The federal government is committed to the restructuring of General Motors, Clement noted, extending US$9.5 billion to the auto giant in June. The move, he said, has protected thousands of jobs at GM plants, dealerships and automotive parts manufacturers.

As part of its commitment to economic recovery and long-term prosperity, the Harper government has also introduced the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Minister reported. FedDev Ontario is backed by a $1-billion investment over five years through the government’s Economic Action Plan and is tasked with delivering federal economic development programs tailored to the specific priorities of workers, businesses and communities.

Last month, the federal government announced $3.5 million in funding for the City of Oshawa through this new agency. The money will be put towards Oshawa Municipal Airport improvements, sidewalk rehabilitation throughout the city, better street lighting and new parking meters in the downtown, and the remediation of a downtown brownfield site at the corner of Bond and Mary Streets.

Despite challenges, Canada is faring better than many other countries thanks to a combination of factors that include a sound economic policy, one of the world’s strong banking systems and a highly-skilled workforce, Clement reported at the breakfast, held October 16 at Octaviens at the Best Western Durham Hotel in Oshawa.

In fact, there are real signs that we have taken the first steps on the road to recovery,” he said in his pep talk. The country’s national unemployment rate fell for the first time in nearly a year, adding more than 92,000 full-time jobs in September. Consumer confidence has risen in seven of the last eight months and, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest report, Canada is on track to lead the world’s wealthiest countries out of recession next year.

“The building blocks are in place for recovery but as Prime Minister Harper recently noted, this recovery is fragile,” Clement said. “That is why it is crucial that we continue to implement our Economic Action Plan and continue to stay on course.”

As part of the plan, the government has committed $200 billion for new and existing measures to support access to credit for Canadian consumers, homebuyers and businesses. The government has also invested more than $5.1 billion in science and technology this year. “There is simply no doubt that Canada’s long-term economic competitiveness in all sectors depends on ideas, innovation and commercialization,” Clement said.

The Harper government has reformed the Competition Act. “More competition will bring better products at lower prices, more jobs and higher earnings. Competition builds stronger companies and a stronger economy,” said the Minister.

“Our reforms to the Investment Canada Act make it easier to attract international investment,” he continued. “The bottom line is that international investment makes our economy more dynamic and better able to compete in world markets. It provides greater access to capital and ideas, enabling Canadian companies to expand and improve. And it creates more jobs for Canadians.”