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GM announces Oshawa assembly plant will close in 2019

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Thousands of General Motors assembly plant workers in Oshawa, Ont., halted production this morning before hearing the devastating news that the automaker plans to close the facility in 2019.

It’s not clear how many of the 2,500 employees will lose their jobs as part of a global restructuring move to lower carbon emissions and prepare for a future of electric and autonomous vehicles, but GM confirmed the closure Monday of the plant, which is about 60 kilometres east of Toronto, and said it is exploring options to retool the facility.  

Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Oshawa, said late Sunday it has not heard “complete details of the overall announcement,” but was told no vehicles are set to be assembled at the facility past December 2019.

“Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement,” the statement read, noting that contract negotiations were slated for 2020. 

The union will hold talks with GM on Monday afternoon. Premier Doug Ford is also expected to comment on the situation when he’s at Queen’s Park before noon.

The Detroit-based automaker had been quiet on the expected move since news broke Sunday evening.

But GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra revealed during a morning news conference in Detroit that it would be terminating production at the Oshawa facility, along with two other complexes in Detroit and Warren, Ohio. 

“This industry is changing very rapidly and we want to make sure we’re well positioned,” Barra told reporters, noting the automaker will be focusing on its future through investment in autonomous and electric vehicles. 

GM has yet to set a timetable for the production halt at the Oshawa plant, but confirmed it will take place sometime in 2019.

Workers inside the plant stopped production shortly before 9 a.m. ET. 

Zachary Way, a new hire at the plant, was among those who walked off the production line in protest and is now anxiously awaiting a 2 p.m. meeting with the union.

Way told CBC News that the company has told him “basically nothing” at this point, although he’s already fearing the worst. If he is laid off, “it’ll be bad,” he said.

Way’s father and brother also work at the Oshawa plant, which he likened to the heart of the city. If it shuts down, Way said, he’s not sure how Oshawa will recover. He likened an empty plant to an “open wound.”

Oshawa assembly plant

The Oshawa plant, where GM Canada has its headquarters, produces the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS cars, the majority of which are shipped south of the border, along with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. 

The complex is one of three GM manufacturing facilities in Ontario, along with St. Catharines and Ingersoll. 

GM produces two cars, the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS, at the Oshawa plant. (General Motors Canada)

The plant was headed for closure in June this year amid a slump in sales of passenger cars in North America, and specifically the U.S., for the two cars built in Oshawa.

In late 2017, GM Canada reported a 17.2 per cent year-over-year drop in vehicle sales, while Canadian year-to-year sales were up 13.6 per cent thanks to strong numbers earlier that year. 

Around the same time, the auto manufacturer restarted a truck assembly line and scaled back car production to address shifting American buyer preferences.

Last month, GM ramped up its cost-cutting efforts by offering buyouts to thousands of white-collar workers with 12 or more years of service in both Canada and the United States. 

The company has said it needs to be smaller to prepare for possible tougher times.

‘It’s going to affect the province’

The assembly plant has formed the backbone of Oshawa’s economy for more than 100 years. GM bought the plant in 1953 from McLaughlin Buicks, making it one of the biggest in the world. 

Initially, Oshawa Mayor John Henry had hoped news of the closure was “just a rumour,” but several hours after it made national headlines, he predicted “there’s more to this than what we know.”

“People are waiting for information. They want to know what their future is like,” he said. 

“They deserve to know the answers and what is going on.”

Henry, who worked at the facility as a teen, claims a sombre mood is now blanketing the city because the economic ripple effect will send shockwaves beyond its workers and their families. 

“This isn’t just about building cars,” he told CBC News on Monday, noting he had not yet spoken to anyone from GM.

“It’s going to affect the province, it’s going to affect the region.”

It’s going to change the spending habits in this community.– Oshawa Mayor John Henry

Dozens of auto-parts businesses, as well as the companies that supply them, will also be affected. A wide array of local businesses, such as restaurants and retailers in Oshawa, could also feel the effects of the shutdown.

GM workers have been good for Oshawa, Henry noted, raising millions of dollars for charity like the local United Way, even during hard economic times.

“It’s going to change the spending habits in this community,” he said.

“And we thought with the recent investments that General Motors had made, that this plant was going to continue to produce vehicles for a long period of time.” 

The Oshawa assembly plant, where GM Canada has its headquarters, produces the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS cars, along with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

Chris Buckley, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, said the move is “absolutely shameful” and that GM should treat its workers better.  

“General Motors should be disgusted on how they’re rewarding these members,” Buckley told CBC News. 

For every job at the assembly plant, he explains, an additional nine jobs are created in the community. 

“This is going to be absolutely devastating,” he said about the expected closure.

Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French also decried the looming closure, calling it a “callous decision that must be fought.”

“GM did not build Oshawa. Oshawa built GM,” French said in a statement on Sunday, noting the proposed layoffs would greatly impact workers and their families. 

“Words cannot fully describe the anxiety that my community is feeling at this moment.”

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Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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