Mr. Speaker, in February I asked a question in this House concerning the federal government's lack of interest in the recent job losses in Canada's automotive industry.
On that day General Motors in the United States announced the largest loss ever and the elimination of 74,000 jobs. At that very same time Kitchener Frame, Kitchener's largest automotive part maker, indicated it would be shutting its doors and eliminating 1,200 jobs in my community.
The region of Waterloo is home to over 62,000 workers who make their living in the manufacturing sector. Several companies, particularly those involved in the automotive sector, have made deep cuts in their workforce or have closed their doors entirely.
Ledco Ltd. closed its doors this year, after 76 years in operation; Lear Corporation laid off close to 300 employees prior to the new year; Nova Steel shut its doors entirely, this month; and BFGoodrich shut its doors last year.
This is a serious crisis and it is having a tremendous impact on the economy of Kitchener Centre. The crisis in the automotive sector is having a devastating effect in communities right across Canada.
However, the government continues to ignore calls for an automotive policy. Ottawa's reluctance to intervene on behalf of the automotive sector is both disappointing and, frankly, quite surprising. It is surprising because these companies are faltering through little fault of their own.
I think it is fair to say that Waterloo region is home to one of the most resilient, determined, innovative and diverse economies in this great country of ours. At various times in our history, Waterloo region has been known as the furniture capital of Canada, the button capital, the shoe making capital, and the rubber capital.
In spite of deep cuts, it remains an automotive capital with an expanding presence due to Toyota. Food processing has been a mainstay in Kitchener and Waterloo region for more than 100 years. There is diversification beyond manufacturing with a large financial services component through Manulife Financial and Economical Insurance, as well as other insurance companies.
We have embraced the new economy with a tremendously vibrant high tech industry. Waterloo region is a good news story, but even at that the manufacturing sector has been hit very hard.
Some of these plants in my constituency of Kitchener Centre are seeing some of their highest productivity rates ever, but despite this, they have lost their markets. They are well-versed in the causes of the manufacturing slowdown. The strong Canadian dollar has erased Ontario's economic advantage and encouraged companies to shift production to the United States or Asia.
Further, the slowdown in the U.S. economy has had a huge impact on the Waterloo region's economy since the majority of the goods manufactured in Waterloo region, and I dare say across Canada, are shipped to the south, the United States.
The manufacturing industry as a whole has been facing significant challenges in recent years as a result of the rapid, unexpected rise in the Canadian dollar, increased competition from emerging economies as well as the higher energy prices.
This Conservative government remains unwilling to address these big problems. I am not certain if it lacks vision or courage, or perhaps both. It is impossible to imagine that--