Bombardier to recall 11,000 workers as Quebec prepares to reopen economy

Bombardier to recall 11,000 workers as Quebec prepares to reopen economy

Bombardier to recall 11,000 workers as Quebec prepares to reopen economy

MONTREAL — Bombardier Inc. says 11,000 furloughed employees will return to work across Canada over the next few weeks, primarily in Quebec where some 450,000 residents are expected to go back on the job as the province prepares to restart its economy.

The plane-and-train maker said Tuesday it will resume production in Quebec as of May 11, the day set by the provincial government for factories to unlock their doors.

The economic restart will come as welcome news to a company grappling with share-price lows, credit downgrades and a US$9.3-billion debt.

Bombardier shuttered operations and sent 12,400 employees on unpaid leave on March 24 as non-essential work ground to a halt across the country.

By the end of May, it expects 9,000 in Quebec and 2,000 in Ontario to be back on the assembly line, a spokesman said Tuesday. Return dates for the remaining 1,400 workers ”will be communicated at a later moment, when we have greater visibility on COVID impact.”

Employees whose physical presence is not required at plants or service sites will continue to work from home, the company said.

All 12,400 — 70 per cent of Bombardier’s Canadian workforce of 17,600 — will benefit from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which funds 75 per cent of an employee’s pay up to a maximum of $847.

Earlier Tuesday, Premier Francois Legault said stores with their own entrances will be allowed to open on May 4 outside of the Montreal area and May 11 in the Montreal region, with factories and construction sites across the province allowed to open May 11.

Legault said the province will keep close tabs on the number of COVID-19 cases and the ability of hospitals to respond.

On Monday, he announced elementary schools and daycares across Quebec will reopen by May 19.

Ontario, on the other hand, has given no dates or schedule for lifting COVID restrictions, other than that schools will stay closed until at least the end of May. Premier Doug Ford has been adamant that reopening depends on getting the virus under firm control.

Roughly 3,000 employees work at Bombardier’s private jet assembly plant in Toronto while others work at its railway operations in Thunder Bay and Kingston, Ont.

“Gradual return-to-work schedules will vary per site,” spokesman Olivier Marcil said in an email, stressing that Quebec operations will start to ramp up in less than two weeks. “Recalls have already started for some sites or for essential activities.”

In Thunder Bay, the payroll dropped to about 420 workers from 1,100 last summer after major contracts — for Toronto Transit Commission streetcars and Metrolinx GO Transit rail cars — wound down. The plant turned the lights back on this week to help produce 18,000 ventilators for the Ontario government.

The machinists’ union representing Bombardier said visits to a pair of facilities in the Montreal area last week ”revealed a clear improvement in the application of physical distancing measures required by Quebec.”

The affected factories in the Montreal area sit in Mirabel, Saint-Laurent, Dorval and Pointe-Claire, and east of Quebec City in La Pocatiere.

Eric Martel, who took over as CEO from Alain Bellemare earlier this month, continues to confront sobering questions about the future of a debt-laden Quebec institution that has become a penny stock with junk-status credit ratings as it slims down to a single revenue stream — private planes — just as the economy plunges into a downturn.

National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen pointed to weakening demand for business jets, further trimming his Bombardier forecast to 123 deliveries from 145 this year and to 108 deliveries from 120 in 2021.

“Cash remains tight,” he said in a research note last week. When the crisis kicked off, Bombardier had about US$3.1 billion in cash on hand, including roughly US$500 million from the sale of its remaining stake in the A220 commercial jetliner program — formerly known as the C Series — and on top of US$1.3 billion in available credit.

As of last week, Bombardier’s aerostructures plant in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was slated to reopen on May 4, a spokeswoman said. Its factory in Cespin, France, that specializes in rolling stock remains shuttered indefinitely.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Bombardier

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Kenney to announce plan for truckers to get COVID-19 vaccinations in nearby states

Alberta is approaching 25,000 active cases of COVID-19, and there are more than 600 people in hospital with the illness

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

Photo (STAR Catholic Logo)
STAR Catholic School Division declines running pilot on K-6 draft curriculum

The Catholic school board conducted an in-depth analysis of the Education Alberta’s draft curriculum

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr speaks to chamber members over Zoom on April 27. (Screenshot)
MLA Ron Orr fields diverse questions during ‘A Business Conversation’

The Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce hosted A Business Conversation with MLA Ron Orr

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine can be given to adults 30+ who can’t wait for mRNA: NACI

Panel says single shot vaccine can be especially useful for populations unable to return for second shot

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The postponement of the event was put in place to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Big truck semi trailer moves on the highway towards sunset
Alberta’s cross-border truckers to be vaccinated at Montana rest stop

2,000 Alberta truck drivers who transport goods across the border will be able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Montana

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

A wild rabbit grazes in Nanaimo, B.C. in this Feb.2, 2018 photo. Rabbit owners in Alberta are being warned about a deadly virus that was identified in a southern Alberta household last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
‘Like a flash fire:’ Rabbit owners warned about outbreak of deadly disease in Alberta

The disease is confined to rabbits and cannot spread to humans

Most Read