February 14, 2019 / 4:35 PM / in a year

Canada's Ontario commits C$40 mln towards bolstering auto sector

TORONTO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Ontario, home to much of Canada’s auto industry, announced C$40.2 million ($30.18 million) in technology-focused funds for the auto industry on Thursday, aimed largely at developing next-generation manufacturing workers, as part of a new 10-year plan.

The strategy, aimed at growing a sector grappling with technology and trade disruptions, comes as General Motors Co plans to shutter its Oshawa assembly plant by year-end, part of a broad restructuring to cut costs and boost investment in electric and self-driving vehicles.

While Ontario represents 13 percent of North American vehicle production, only 6 percent of automakers’ new investment has come to the province since 2009, the government said.

Ontario auto production has declined by 25 percent since 2009, the government added, reflecting a shift to lower-cost regions, such as Mexico.

The province’s three-year grant program commits C$19 million towards internships and training, C$3.2 million towards online learning and C$2 million to an autonomous talent development program. A new C$3 million fund will support winter testing of mobility products.

A C$10 million grant program for parts suppliers, which requires matching industry investment, is aimed at technology adoption that boosts productivity and exports. It replaces a previous program, for which funding was not immediately clear.

The plan also aims to make Ontario more competitive, with a target of reducing regulatory burdens for the auto industry by 25 percent by 2020, through such measures as streamlining.

$1 = 1.3321 Canadian dollars Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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