GM set to drastically reduce Canadian footprint

Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:55pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - General Motors Corp laid out plans on Monday to drastically reduce its footprint in Canada and said it expects to soon have access to short-term Canadian bridge loans of up to C$3 billion ($2.5 billion).

GM said it expects to reduce its hourly Canadian workforce to 4,400 by 2014 from 10,300 in 2008, mostly through previously announced plant closures, as part of its plan to return to viability.

"The population is going shrink dramatically," said Chris Buckley, president of Canadian Auto Workers union Local 222 in Oshawa, Ontario, where a GM truck plant is due to be shuttered and about 2,600 workers laid off on May 14.

"This crisis, going into the future, is going to be devastating as far as job losses in Canada," Buckley said.

GM said on Monday that it would be forced to file for bankruptcy protection if it failed to cut $27 billion in bond debt by about 90 percent and if other changes it has announced were to falter.

Those changes, mostly in the United States, included closing plants, slashing jobs, and dropping the Pontiac brand.

The changes "will also enhance the viability of our highly integrated Canadian operations as we complete our discussions with the Ontario and federal governments on GM Canada's restructuring plans," Arturo Elias, president of GM Canada, said in a statement.

GM said it was close to completing a short-term bridge loan agreement with Canada and the province of Ontario.   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>