UPDATE 2-GM to add 700 engineering jobs in Canada

Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:01pm EDT
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(Adds comment from prime minister, union; context)

By Allison Martell

OSHAWA, Ontario, June 10 (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Friday it will expand its Canadian engineering base to reach a total of about 1,000 jobs in Canada's auto-making province of Ontario as it boosts research spending on connected and driverless cars.

The company will also invest $10 million in its Kapuskasing, Ontario cold-weather facility, where it will conduct testing for new GM products, GM announced at its engineering center in Oshawa.

The gain of some 700 jobs was hailed as a big win for Canada's manufacturing heartland by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who arrived at the center with the head of GM Canada in a Chevy Bolt, the automaker's signature electric car.

"It's a perfect fit in so many ways, and I'm really glad that GM saw it that way too," Trudeau said.

Canadian automaking has been losing ground in recent years to Mexico, where costs are lower, and the country is struggling to fire up innovation and investment in its factory sector to offset the slump in its once-dominant energy sector.

The union representing the auto workers said the investment is good for the future of the sector in Canada.

"I'm incredibly optimistic, I mean this is a great news story for Canada. To me this shows General Motors' long term commitment to Canada," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.   Continued...