With no comprehensive or deliberate plan to keep automakers in this country, or attract more, Mexico is stepping into the void and seeing more and more plants built.

That’s why Unifor has been pushing for an auto policy in Canada. A recent independent study published by Unifor showed how important the auto industry is to the entire Canadian economy.

And this week’s federal budget does not address the need for a workable policy, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“The measures announced in this pre-election budget to assist manufacturing, just won’t get the job done,” said Dias. “We need a government that will work with industry and labour to create the robust industrial strategy we need to rebuild this vital sector – and that leadership is not coming from Mr. Harper.”

In the past two years, eight automakers have opened or announced new plants or expansions in Mexico, including Toyota’s plans to shift production of the popular Corolla to Mexico.

And, while Mexican workers are initially happy to get a job, they soon find that low pay, injuries and long hours in a country with few protections for workers, life can be difficult, and that they have few options.

“The big threat is always going to be unemployment. That’s why they stay. Because you leave there and where are you going to go?” asks Huberto Juarez, a professor at the Center for the Study of Economic and Social Development at the Autonomous University of Puebla.

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