Report says Ford plans to scrap next-gen Edge, raising questions about Oakville plant's future

Ford Edge Oakville

Ontario's premier and the head of Unifor are both responding to a report that Ford is planning to scrap production of the Edge SUV model in Oakville, raising major questions about the plant's future. 

The report comes from industry forecaster, AutoForecast Solutions, citing industry sources about the move to end production, that would leave the plant with no work past 2023 for its 4,000 employees. 

Unifor President Jerry Dias said however that while no final decisions have been made, this was a subject negotiators knew would come up in bargaining. 

"Ultimately, it's the elephant in the room and we were going to deal with it, period," he said.

The negotiations will happen in the fall, but he expects to have answers "long before that." 

"The bottom line is that this is Ford's last assembly plant that they have in Canada and they understand the important of maintaining a strong footprint here in Canada," he said. 

The Oakville plant only makes the Ford Edge and the Lincoln Nautilus, but production of the latter is scheduled to move to China after 2023.

Premier Doug Ford said he was concerned after hearing the news and that said his office was in contact with Ford and would be with the union. 

"When any line in the automotive sector hears discontinued or moving down south, it concerns us," he said. "

While Dias said there's a need for a comprehensive, long-term auto industry strategy from the federal and provincial governments, Ford pointed to the province's $40 million three-year investment in the sector last February, including funding for the autonomous vehicle sector and expedited training for workers. 

He also said the province has to continue cutting regulations to remain competitive, which was also part of last year's plan. 

But he vowed to do more if necessary.

"If it means me going down after these borders open up and we can travel and it might be a few months down the road, I'll be at the front door of the world headquarters for Ford banging on their door, selling them why Ontario is the best place to manufacture cars anywhere in the world." 

Dias added this was not about evaluating a worse-case scenario. 

"I expect we're going to find a solution," he said. 

with files from Tiffany Hendsbee