1,600 foreign workers at an Ontario battery factory?

Hundreds, if not more than a thousand, South Korean workers are expected to come to work at a future battery factory in Ontario, which is receiving $15 billion in public money.

• Read also: Ottawa and Stellantis agree to resume construction of a battery factory

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It was Windsor police who released the information, more or less against their will, last week, before Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre collapsed on Monday.

According to a message from the police force released to X after a meeting with South Korean Ambassador Woongsoon Lim last Thursday, about 1,600 South Koreans will come to live and work in Windsor next year in connection with the construction of the mega -battery factory of the automotive giant Stellantis, in collaboration with LG Energy Solutions.

Pressed by questions from the NDP and Conservatives during question period in the Commons, the employment minister’s parliamentary secretary, Irek Kusmierczyk, would not comment directly on the information relayed by Windsor police.

“Mr. Speaker, please note that only one temporary foreign worker application has been approved for this project,” suggested the member who also represents Windsor-Tecumseh. Mr. Kusmierczyk also reminded that temporary foreign workers can only come to work in Canada if labor needs cannot be met locally.

This answer was not enough for Pierre Poilievre who asked for an investigation before the media, in addition to asking that the contract between the governments and Stellantis be made public.

“If Justin Trudeau has nothing to hide, he will make the agreement public,” proclaimed the leader of the Conservative Party, who believes that Canadians “have the right to know what they are paying for.”

Announced in March 2022 by Stellantis, the megafactory project was put on hold last May when the company asked for more generous subsidies. Work finally resumed in July after a new agreement was signed that increased the grants awarded to about $15 billion. One-third of the amount is borne by Ontario and the rest by the federal government.

The exact subsidies, however, will depend on the output of the battery factory, which the governments have announced should employ around 2,500 people and be operational by 2024.