Skip to main content

'We are committed to the original deal': Federal government remains confident regarding Windsor battery plant negotiations

Negotiations continue between Stellantis and LG and the Canadian government to keep the $5 billion NextStar Energy EV battery plant and roughly 3,000 jobs in Windsor.

“Forgive me if I am unable to share the details about the ongoing discussions, but there's a commitment and a sense of confidence that hopefully soon we'll have good news,” Omar Alghabra, federal transport minister, said to media Friday in Windsor.

Construction of the nearly complete NextStar module plant was put on hold about two weeks ago over a negotiating impasse involving incentives. Sources tell CTV News the automaker is looking for the federal government to match lucrative ones on offers stateside through the inflation reduction act and has threatened to initiate ‘contingency plans’ to move the battery module assembly component of the project to Michigan.

“We are committed to the original deal. But you're asking me to talk about the ongoing negotiations which is taking place at the table. But the commitment is there,” said Alghabra.

He was flanked by Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, who spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday. He said that conversation went very well and indicates talks are in the very advanced stages.

“This is our turnaround moment. And we are absolutely committed to making sure that Windsor-Essex leads the transition to zero emission vehicles,” said Kusmierczyk.

The province is kicking in extra money to seal the deal, though the value of that contribution is not being disclosed. Conservative MPP Andrew Dowie told reporters Friday it’s now fully in the hands of the federal government to close the deal.

“I guess we're all anxious,” Dowie said. “I'm anxious to get him to get word as the successful resolution of the issue at hand.”

He and many other are anxious for good reason.

Back in 2001, Stellantis (which was Daimler Chrysler at the time) was committed to building a new van plant at Pillette Road. It was said to be a $1.5 billion investment for a new paint shop and thousands of jobs.

“Everything was going good and there was a lot of optimism in the community,” said Ken Lewenza, who was the head of Unifor local 444 at the time.

With millions already invested, Daimler Chrysler cancelled the project.

“To see it come crumbling down, was an incredible shock it was a huge disappointment,” Lewenza recalled. “It was a painful experience.”

Two years later, the automaker had planned another investment in Windsor to build a new small pick-up truck. It too was cancelled to cut costs.

Fast forward two decades, Lewenza said it’s like deja vu. 

“It is disheartening as a community activist to see the kind of gamesmanship that's going on,” he said.

CTV News reached out to representatives from Stellantis, who declined to comment.

The negotiations seem to be stuck on whether the feds will close the gap on stateside incentives for module assembly, where the automaker could move that portion of work and save billions of dollars annually, according to sources close to negotiations.

It’s believed if that happens, the cell production would remain in Windsor but community leaders fear 650 research and development jobs tied to the battery plant could be in jeopardy.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is asking for signatures on a petition to advocate for the resumption of construction on all facilities at the plant.

Lewenza said this investment and the resulting jobs are far too important to the future of the auto industry in Windsor, Ontario and Canada to lose.

“To suggest that this project is at risk puts our assembly plants at risk, puts the future of the auto industry at risk,” said Lewenza. “This is just doesn't make any sense.”

“Government better step in and get it done. Because if not, there will be consequences.” Top Stories

Stay Connected