GM Canada invests $850M in R&D at Oshawa facility

GM Canada is investing $850 million in research and development at its complex east of Toronto, an announcement hailed by the prime minister as proof of the automaker’s commitment to Canada, as it makes good on its bailout commitments, but regarded cautiously by auto workers.

OSHAWA, Ont. — GM Canada is investing $850 million in research and development at its complex east of Toronto, an announcement hailed by the prime minister as proof of the automaker’s commitment to Canada, as it makes good on its bailout commitments, but regarded cautiously by auto workers.

The investment Tuesday came on the same day a rival automaker, Toyota, pledged $100 million to boost production and hire 400 new workers at a facility in southwestern Ontario — making for nearly $1 billion in auto sector investments in the province in a single day.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who attended the GM announcement in Oshawa, Ont., said the money represents “exciting future implications” with ripple effects that will be felt throughout the economy.

The federal and Ontario governments invested a total of $10.5 billion in GM Canada in 2009 as the automaker struggled to survive the economic downturn.

“We did what was necessary to support and stabilize Canada’s economy,” Harper said Tuesday.

“This is a good story. Hardworking people, the company and government worked together to solve an enormous problem and now here we are today, looking forward with hope.”

The $850-million investment, which GM said will be made between 2009 to 2016, is aimed at meeting R&D spending commitments the automaker made under the bailout.

“Today’s announcement honours that promise and it demonstrates the company’s long-term commitment to value-added manufacturing in our country,” Harper said.

“Over the years GM’s massive knowledge investment will permeate Canadian centres of learning and industry. The ripple effects will be felt far and wide.”

GM Canada president Kevin Williams said the company has taken nothing for granted, “including the tremendous sacrifices made by so many and the incredible support provided that gave us this second chance.”

“Our gratitude is deep and it’s driving us every day to make this a company that Canadians can be proud of again,” he said.

GM says the investment in R&D at the Canadian Engineering Centre will make the facility an integral part of its global engineering and R&D networks. But the company did not give any specific announcement about whether new jobs would be created.

The money will also go toward enhancing partnerships with automotive suppliers.