By Ethan Lou
TORONTO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Canada is working closely with automakers to increase investment in the industry, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said on Monday, welcoming an agreement between Canada’s Unifor union and General Motors Co.
“We’re currently working closely with the automakers to make sure that we look at means to bring investment and I’m very delighted to hear about the agreement between GM and Unifor. That’s a very positive development,” he told reporters.
Unifor, which represents more than 20,000 Canadian autoworkers, on Sunday ratified a deal with General Motors that will see C$554 million ($420.81 million) invested in local plants.
It is also preparing for talks over similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Ford Motor Co.
GM spokesman Tom Wickham said on Sunday that the company is working toward “potential support agreements” with federal and provincial governments.
Bains said the government is talking to GM about supporting its Canadian investments and expects to give further details “in the coming weeks and months”.
“We have many tools in our toolbox and the idea is for us to engage with them to increase investment,” Bains said.
Canada’s government said in its 2016 budget that it would extend the country’s Automotive Innovation Fund, which uses government funds to encourage industry investment.
The federal government recently agreed to offer automakers grants rather than loans, which helped both sides reach a deal, according to a source directly involved in the talks. Bains declined to comment on the grant situation.
$1 = 1.3165 Canadian dollars With additional reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by W Simon and Marguerita Choy