UPDATE 2-Canadian government pours C$250 mln into auto sector

Fri Jan 4, 2013 3:40pm EST
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* Gov't to extend Automotive Innovation Fund for five years

* Companies must invest own funds to tap gov't support

* Auto workers union welcomes support but says more needed

* Canada PM says won't be influenced by U.S. sale of GM stake

By Cameron French

OAKVILLE, Ontario, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled C$250 million ($253.69 million) in government support for the country's auto industry on Friday as Ottawa tries to lure investment to the shrunken sector and create jobs.

Harper announced a five-year extension and new funds for the Automotive Innovation Fund, which was set up in 2008 with an initial C$250 million of government money for research and development projects in Canada's auto industry.

"Our goal in creating this fund was to promote and secure more high quality manufacturing jobs for Canadian workers in this industry through innovation," Harper said, speaking at an event at the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario.

In order for companies to be considered for the funds, they need to make auto sector investments of more than C$75 million. The government said its support to date has leveraged up to C$1.6 billion in industry investment.   Continued...