Ford adding 1,000 new jobs in Canada

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TORONTO (AP) — Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it is adding 1,000 jobs at its plant near Toronto to build the 2015 Ford Edge crossover SUV for the global market.

The new jobs come a year after Ford invested $700 million into the 5.5 million-square-foot assembly in Oakville, Ontario. Two levels of government in Canada contributed about $142 million of the $700 million.

Oakville now makes the Ford Edge and Flex crossover SUVs, as well as the Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT. The 2015 Edge will be exported to more than 100 countries from Oakville.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the 1,000 new jobs are a direct result of her government's nearly $71 million investment. The federal government also put in $71.6 million.

Canadian Industry Minister James Moore also welcomed the announcement and said his government's investment helped transform the Oakville plant into one of Ford's most advanced facilities globally.

"It demonstrates once again that Canada is a great place to build cars," Moore said in a statement.

The 1,000 new jobs and 300 added last year will bring total employment at the plant to more than 4,000 by the end of 2014. Ford also operates an engine plant in Windsor, Ontario and employs a total of about 6,000 people in Canada. The automaker also said Wednesday it expects to increase spending on Canadian-made auto parts by $200 million a year.

The announcement is good news for Canadian auto workers, whose future looked bleak a few years ago because they were paid higher wages than workers in the U.S. Several auto executives called Canada the most expensive place in the world to build automobiles. But in 2012, the workers agreed to a new contract that cut U.S. automakers' costs in the country.

Canadian auto workers voted in favor of a new cost-cutting four-year contract negotiated with Ford that made Canada more competitive with the United States and other countries for auto assembly.

The contract cut wages for new hires and froze pay for current workers. New hires now get about 20 Canadian dollars per hour, about 60 percent of the top wage paid to longtime union members. The new workers will move up the wage scale and reach the top pay in 10 years.

Ford said there would be significant cost savings realized through the wage structure for new employees. Canada's advantages in the past — a weak Canadian dollar and government health care — had all but vanished compared with U.S. factories. But after hovering around par earlier this decade the more recent depreciation of the Canadian dollar has benefited the Canadian auto sector.

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