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The federal and Ontario governments will each contribute $295 million to the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont. as part of a combined $1.8-billion investment to turn the factory into an electric-vehicle manufacturing hub. Ford plans to make five different models of battery-powered electric vehicles in the plant starting 2026. Batteries for the vehicles will also be assembled at the plant, according to Dean Stoneley, the president and CEO of Ford Canada. “Support from the federal and provincial governments were crucial in securing this transformational investment,” Stoneley said. (CBC News, The Logic)

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Talking point: Ford’s commitment to bringing electric vehicles to Oakville hinged on government support. Global sales of electric vehicles in China, Europe and North America were still just 4.8 per cent of total vehicle sales in 2019, and the Big Three automakers have so far been reluctant to aggressively pivot to EVs. Ford had assigned no new products to the Oakville plant beyond 2023—the electric-vehicle initiative guarantees at least 3,000 of the current 3,400 jobs will still be around in six years, according to Unifor national president Jerry Dias. “The auto industry is not a sunset industry, but a sunrise industry,” he declared at Thursday’s announcement, flanked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

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Ford will build the vehicles mainly in Windsor and Oakville in Ontario as part of a settlement reached with Unifor, whose members still need to ratify the deal. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Unifor’s leadership is ecstatic about the deal. “We are now positioned to be the jewel in Ford’s crown, and a key part of Ford’s future success transitioning to greener technology. As an organization, we’ve hit a home run,” said national president Jerry Dias. Ford’s commitment secures automobile manufacturing jobs in Windsor and Oakville for several decades. Currently, electric vehicle sales make up 2.7 per cent of global new car sales. That number is on track to reach 58 per cent by 2040, according to a BloombergNEF analysis. Unifor estimates that $300 billion has been spent globally on electric-vehicle production, but this is the first money allocated for Canadian production. Tesla is expected to announce its battery-production plans after newsletter publication Tuesday. The Unifor deal includes the rights to build five vehicles and their batteries. If ratified during a Sunday night vote by members, Unifor will move to negotiate with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles next, then General Motors.

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The federal government’s commitment is part of what could eventually be a $2-billion investment to retool the Oakville, Ont. manufacturing plant to focus on electric-vehicle production. (Toronto Star)

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Talking point: The federal financing could be a lifeline for the auto manufacturer, as its future hangs in the balance. It comes on the eve of the deadline for Ford Motors and Unifor, the union representing 6,300 workers in Oakville and Windsor, to reach an agreement over how the plant will continue to operate after it ends production of the Edge SUV and Lincoln Nautilus in 2023. The plant employs 4,250 union members who are poised to strike if an agreement isn’t reached by midnight. Shifting priorities to electric-vehicle and -battery production is a focus of the negotiations, as increased demand for low-carbon cars is expected to grow in the coming years.

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The Mach E is Ford’s first long-range electric vehicle, which it plans to have on the market sometime next year. It’s the product of a US$11.5-billion investment in electric-car development announced in 2018. (The New York Times)

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Talking point: Most zero-emissions vehicles have been smaller, like the Tesla Model 3, which captured close to 70 per cent of the U.S. electric-vehicle market in the company’s second quarter this year. While electric cars are becoming more popular, so are SUVs and pickup trucks, and booming sales of large vehicles have offset the emissions reductions from the former. Ford is just the latest manufacturer to try and capitalize on both market trends in one product. General Motors is working on an electric Cadillac SUV, and Tesla is expected to unveil its electric pickup this week. Ford chairman William Clay Ford, Jr. acknowledged it won’t be easy to convert drivers of gas-guzzling vehicles to more expensive electric cars at a time when fuel is cheap: “We’ve pushed all our chips to the middle of the table,” he told The New York Times.

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The auto manufacturer opened the centre to the media for the first time this week, after spending two years developing its technology team in Waterloo. The company already has 150 employees at the facility, where Ford develops its Sync entertainment and communication system. The company plans to keep growing the workforce next year. (The Record)

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Talking point: Ford has other tech R&D centres in Ottawa, Oakville, Ont. and Michigan. The Canadian facilities, including Waterloo’s, are part of a $500-million investment the company made to expand its innovation efforts in the country. Ford’s interest in developing tech in Southern Ontario puts it up against GM, which since 2018 has been working on entertainment systems and autonomous-vehicle (AV) capabilities at its Canadian Technical Centre in Markham, Ont., which has a 1,000-employee capacity. And after announcing plans to shutter its Oshawa, Ont. plant last November and cut 2,6000 jobs, GM announced a $170-million investment to keep 300 employees, some of whom would work on the company’s AV testing.

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Hopkins will become chief operations officer at Oxford—the real estate subsidiary of OneEleven’s parent, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS)—in mid-August. He will remain on the tech hub’s board and become its chair. Siri Agrell, Toronto managing director, has been named executive director, and told The Logic she will report to the board before eventually taking a seat. She said OneEleven will also adopt more features of a cohort-based accelerator, such as short-term programs delivered by experts and investor demo days, starting in the fall. The hub now has 53 member companies in Toronto, with two more scheduled to arrive shortly, up from 50 in April. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The CEO’s departure follows those of four OneEleven C-suite executives between April and June. Hopkins was brought into OneEleven to spearhead its expansion beyond Toronto. In April 2018, he announced plans to open in Ottawa, Vancouver and Boston that year, and said the company was scouting for space in London and Berlin in early 2019. That expansion is now paused. The Ottawa location will close next week, and the London plans are on hold; it also did not launch in the other cities. OneEleven’s Toronto location will have to move, as well. The hub is in an office building that owner Oxford plans to redevelop as part of a $3.5-billion project that it wants to begin construction on in 2023. Agrell said OneEleven will be notified at least a year before work begins, and Oxford will help the hub “find a new location in the area.” In the meantime, OneEleven has recently made accessibility upgrades to its space, and added rooms for parenting and prayer. A podcast room is planned.

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Chris Froggatt and Kory Teneycke lead firms that have each signed up over two dozen influential clients since the Progressive Conservatives took power in Ontario. Froggart’s firm Loyalist Public Affairs represents Canopy Growth, Sidewalk Labs and Pfizer. Teneycke’s Rubicon Strategy has Loblaw, IBM and the Ontario Medical Association. A spokesperson for Doug Ford said the premier is not aware of any breach of ethics rules by the two men, and would not allow them if he was. (Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: The two men have direct access to the premier, and are trusted with everything from negotiating with MPs concerned with Ford’s actions to dealing with the fallout from issues like cuts to public health spending. Froggatt and Teneycke both say they provide political advice and never discuss client matters. However, their respective companies are taking away clients from other lobbying firms—which can charge monthly retainers of up to $20,000. The relative prominence of the two men has only grown in recent weeks following the departure of Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French. The three men called themselves a “three-legged stool” during the provincial election campaign.

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Minimum-wage workers cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment in 91 per cent of the 795 neighbourhoods studied and in 23 of 36 major cities, according to the study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: This study is the latest indicator that wealth inequality in Canada is growing despite generally positive signs for the rest of the Canadian economy. The government reported a significant increase in full-time jobs in June, but much of that growth came from self-employed workers in precarious contract jobs. Earlier this month, CIBC World Markets said that the quality of the Canadian job market—measured by job security and compensation strength—is diminishing, since growth in low- and mid-paying jobs far outpaces higher-paying positions. Meanwhile, Canada’s rental market is tightening—in 2018, vacancy rates declined to 2.4 per cent from 3.0 per cent in 2017.