Poloz sees signs of hope for Oshawa

National Post (National Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST - JoSH Win­grovE

OT­TAWA • One of Oshawa’s most prom­i­nent sons is bullish on the small On­tario city’s chances of sur­viv­ing the shut­down of its Gen­eral Mo­tors plant.

In 2016, Bank of Canada Gov­er­nor Stephen Poloz was in­ducted into the walk of fame of his home­town, say­ing he grew up on the “front line of the real econ­omy.” On Wed­nes­day, how­ever, he said sec­tors like au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing don’t make up the same share of the na­tional econ­omy as they once did.

Oshawa is all too aware. The U.S. auto gi­ant an­nounced in Novem­ber that it in­tends to cease pro­duc­tion at its iconic plant east of Toronto at the end of this year. Au­towork­ers, who were shocked by the news, protested GM’s plan by stag­ing sit-ins this week, and in­dus- try an­a­lysts have warned that other fac­to­ries could fol­low.

“Be­ing from Oshawa, I re­gret that very much,” Poloz said at press con­fer­ence in Ot­tawa after hold­ing in­ter­est rates steady for a se­cond straight time. “When I was young in Oshawa, there were 10 times as many peo­ple work­ing there — 75 per cent of my high school class went to work in Gen­eral Mo­tors. It was a re­ally im­por­tant part of the town.”

Auto man­u­fac­tur­ing has since de­clined in the city and will even­tu­ally go to zero, the cen­tral banker said. “And yet Oshawa has grown and peo­ple live there and they all have jobs. So, this is what hap­pens in economies, and that’s the thing you have to ad­mire — that Schum­peter’s cre­ative de­struc­tion thing is true.”

Much of the Cana­dian econ­omy is grow­ing at ca­pac­ity and strug­gling to find work­ers, Poloz said, de­spite the high-pro­file strug­gles of sec­tors like au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing. Gov­ern­ments will of­fer re­train­ing to af­fected work­ers, he said.

“The econ­omy will al­ways have the stresses of some form of some things de­clin­ing,” he said.

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