Union says Canada automakers made billions till 2008

Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:30pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's auto industry made more than C$100 billion ($82 billion) in profits between 1972 and 2007, with the Canadian units of General Motors Corp GM.N and Chrysler generating more than a third of those earnings, a report by the Canadian Auto Workers union said on Monday.

Jim Stanford, the union's economist and author of the study, said the report is meant to underline the long-term importance of the now-struggling auto industry to Canada's financial health.

The auto industry's steep decline worldwide in the wake of the financial sector meltdown and credit crunch has put GM and Chrysler deep in the red. Both companies have applied for billions of dollars in U.S. and Canadian government loans to help them survive.

"Yes, we're at a tough moment right now, but we shouldn't forget that bigger picture, which has been one of consistent profit and tremendous opportunity," Stanford told Reuters.

The report said automotive assembly and parts companies were the most profitable heavy industry in Canada between 1972 and 2007, pocketing C$101.29 billion after taxes.

The union said GM Canada made C$31.75 billion in profit in that period, while Chrysler Canada made C$4.95 billion.

Representatives from GM and Chrysler's Canadian arms were not immediately available for comment on the report.

The numbers in the CAW report are based partly on industry-wide profitability data from Statistics Canada.   Continued...

<p>General Motors auto workers prepare rows of the new Chevrolet Camaro for delivery, at the company's Oshawa Ontario facility April 8, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill</p>