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‘Why can’t they make the future in Oshawa?’ GM VP on electric cars, pensions, and more

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Come this time next year, thousands of Ontario General Motors workers will be facing the stark reality that their time at the Oshawa assembly plant is coming to an end. The automotive giant confirmed yesterday that the plant is one of six that will close in North America. 

GM said it’s all part of a global plan to cut costs and dedicate more resources to developing electric and autonomous vehicles. But news that the Oshawa plant would be shuttered left many wondering why the century-old facility was being left out of the future. 

Senior Correspondent Susan Ormiston asked David Paterson, GM’s vice president for corporate and environmental affairs, about that — and more. 

GM’s Paterson explains why the Oshawa, Ont., plant can’t build the vehicles of the future. (CBC News)

Susan Ormiston: So does this plant go because of the U.S. president’s aim to make America first and make America great again and produce in America?

David Paterson: This has absolutely nothing to do with the president. This decision has to do with simply being able to make the transition to the future and reallocate capital into the massive investments that are needed for electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.

The good news is that in terms of that technology, the one place in the world where we are able to do the software development and the high-tech work that is needed for the future is actually in Canada. We have just opened the Markham technology centre.

We’re hiring up to 1,000 technical engineers right now. We’ve hired 500 in last year, and we’ll expand that technology centre that’s in Markham that will build the cars of the future and the technology of the future.

GM says the Oshawa closure has nothing to do with Trump’s ‘America First’ policy. (Eduardo Lima/Canadian Press)

SO: Given the Canadian investment in GM over the years, why can’t the electric and [autonomous] vehicles be made here instead of somewhere else … why can’t they make the “future” here in Oshawa?

DP: We can make anything here in Oshawa. We could make any type of vehicle…

SO: So why isn’t GM investing in that?

DP: Because there are only so many vehicles on a global basis that are available for the production footprint of GM. We have 75 plants around the world, but we have far too many plants for the demand in the marketplace.

If there is a surge for demand for electrical vehicles then perhaps there’s going to be a need for more production. But you don’t produce things unless there’s a market demand for the products.

Watch Susan Ormiston press GM’s David Paterson on the Oshawa plant’s future:

Susan Ormiston asks GM Vice President of Corporate and Environmental Affairs why the Oshawa plant can’t be used to build the vehicles of the future 1:15

SO: What are GM’s plans to settle with the workers here who have 18 to 24 months left on their contracts? 

DP: Our next steps in dealing with our workers is to sit down and discuss how we make this transition in the next year.

SO: What can you offer them?

GM Vice President, Corporate and Environmental Affairs, David Paterson, says not all of the workers will be relocated to other Ontario plants. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC News)

DP: Well, about half of the workers impacted in GM Oshawa already qualify for a full GM pension. So they’ll be able to retire with a little better than a full pension.

The other half are already covered under the terms of our agreement with Unifor. So they would have things such as additional income support, 65 per cent of base salary, and then whatever else we could negotiate with Unifor in terms of when they would leave and under what benefits and what conditions. So we treat our people very well.

SO: How many of the existing workers can find work within GM elsewhere?

DP: We expect that about half of them will move to retirement because they’re eligible. And then we’ll take a look at which other ones might be able to find work either at our Ingersoll [plant] … or how many would be able to find work at our other plant in St. Catharines. We need to go through that process. But they won’t be able to all be moved to other plants.

Susan Ormiston asks David Paterson whether there will be jobs for everyone at other Ontario plants:

Susan Ormiston asks GM Vice President of Corporate and Environmental Affairs David Paterson how many of the current Oshawa workers could move to other Ontario GM plants. 0:28

This interview has been condensed for length and clarity. 

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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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5 savvy renovations to make your kitchen look like new

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(NC) The kitchen is the heart and focal point of any home. But if yours is looking a little tired, a few simple renovations can change the feel of the entire space.

Whether you’ve just moved in, have been meaning to update for years or are experiencing life changes, remember that a kitchen uplift doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. These small-scale projects could be the change your kitchen needs:

  1. Brighten it up.Adding LED lights below your cabinets will brighten your backsplash and counter and provide a warm glow. Place your favourite containers below to act as focal points – those copper canisters that are hiding under the island and the marble coasters you couldn’t resist can now all be on display.
  2. Swap the old with the new.The backsplash is the first thing you see, so replacing it can be enough to give the space a whole new look. Try a unique shape or colour to change things up, like turquoise or patterned tiles, hexagon-shaped tiles or even a full slab of stainless steel.
  3. Rework what you have.People often think new cabinets are necessary for a kitchen reno, but a lot can be done with what you’ve got. Repainting the cabinets and switching out the knobs to chic new handles will do wonders for a makeover.
  4. Don’t hide away.Try adding some open shelving in an unused spot, such as above the sink or window, or next to the cabinets. Display your most beautiful dishes and add some decorative pieces to give the space a modern, airy feel.
  5. Add new materials into the mix.Changing the island to a butcher-block counter adds warmth and practicality.

Taking on a renovation can often feel overwhelming. But if you talk to your contractor about budgeting and spreading out payments through services like The Home Depot Project Loan, it can be easier than you think. The service allows you to finance any home projects, big or small and is available at locations across Canada.

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How to afford a home renovation that fits your life

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(NC) Changing seasons always bring about the desire to update our living spaces. But your life stage and budget can influence what kind of upgrades you can make. Here are some tips to get you started.

Assess the investment. The first step is to gauge how much value your investment will bring, whether you’re looking to sell or grow into a family home. A common misconception among home owners is that all renovations will increase a home’s value; unfortunately, this is not always the case. It’s always a good idea to strategically renovate the space to fit your life plan and goals.

Plan for both long- and short-term value. As a homeowner, it is important to assess what kind of value items can contribute to your life plan. Searching for products that are energy efficient, like an eco-friendly washing machine or water filtration system, can help you save on your monthly bills. A long-term investment, such as hardwood floors or bathroom tiles, can spruce up a living space for years to come. While sometimes this require a larger budget, the project can be both appealing to future buyers and stand the test of time in a family home.

Create a renovation budget. Once you have a clear plan, you’ll need to create a budget to align with your financial goals. Always ensure your budget includes any interest you’ll be paying. Ask multiple sources for competitive quotes.

Use a payment plan. For those high-ticket investment items, consider using a payment plan. Payment solutions such as The Home Depot Project Loan can help with bigger renovations. This allows you to stick to your budgeting goals while using a flexible payment plan to make larger purchases more accessible.

Use DIY to offset costs. In addition to using a payment plan, taking on a few safe and simple renovation projects yourself is an easy way to offset renovation costs. Your local hardware store can help source materials and provide helpful tips to make those do-it-yourself projects, such as refinishing cabinets or sanding old hardwood floors, a breeze.

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