Producing Medical Equipment for Social Need

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2099 ... May 21, 2020

Producing Medical Equipment for Social Need:
Expand Production to Include N95 Masks at GM Oshawa

Green Jobs Oshawa

On April 24, the Canadian government announced a letter of intent to convert a portion of the GM Oshawa complex for the manufacture of much needed medical masks (personal protective equipment or PPE). Green Jobs Oshawa welcomed this important step forward.

However, it soon became apparent that GM’s plans for Oshawa are far short of what is needed. They are using only 50-60 workers and are making Level 1 surgical masks, not N95 masks (a higher level of protection needed especially by healthcare workers).

Manufacture N95 Masks in GM Oshawa Now!

General Motors Canada has the ability to manufacture millions of N95 masks in Oshawa:

* GM is already manufacturing N95 masks in the Warren, Michigan plant, and Warren is the template that was used for setting up mask production in Oshawa.

* The GM Oshawa complex has 10 million square feet, most of which is not being utilized. The existing mask... production project is reported to use only 30,000 square feet. There is ample room to expand production.

* GM Canada plans to employ 50 to 60 workers for mask production. When GM eliminated vehicle production in Oshawa in December of 2019, they eliminated the jobs of 5,000 highly skilled assembly and supplier workers. Thousands of those workers are available and would be eager to manufacture N95 masks and other urgently needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line Canadian workers.

General Motors of Canada asked for, and received $11-billion of public money in 2009. Now, GM of Canada is in the position of being able to make a significant contribution to the public good in Ontario and Canada by greatly expanding manufacturing of PPE in Oshawa, including N95 masks. If GM Canada will not voluntarily support our communities, we call on our governments to use their emergency powers and order it to be done.

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