New Flyer lays off 30 staff in wake of $50-M Manitoba loan
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A $50-million loan from the provincial government was not enough to save the jobs of some local New Flyer Industries employees.
Approximately 30 staff have been laid off from New Flyer, an NFI Group subsidiary and zero-emission bus manufacturer located in Transcona, a company spokesperson confirmed via email Tuesday.
“These decisions are never easy, as they impact our people and their families, but we hope that these reductions are temporary, and we anticipate that we will grow our workforce in Winnipeg later in 2023,” the spokesperson said.
The company has been “severely impacted” by COVID-19, supply chain interruptions and inflation, resulting in a net loss of $230 million since the beginning of the pandemic. It has eliminated 2,000 positions and closed or downsized several facilities around the world, the spokesperson said.
The company employs about 2,500 people in Manitoba and 7,500 globally.
On Dec. 23, the provincial government announced it would give NFI a $50-million loan at commercial rates, to be repaid in 12 months, with an option to be extended for another 24 months.
Export Development Canada also agreed to give the company a US$50-million loan and US$100 million in surety for bids and performance bonds.
NFI Group president and chief executive officer Paul Soubry previously said the company was sitting on $5-billion worth of unfulfilled orders and options owing to a diminished supply chain.
He estimated the company had about 500 vehicles that were built but remained offline, and about $250 million tied up as a result. Meanwhile, costs for parts had increased by 17 to 20 per cent in recent months.
The challenges forced the company to renegotiate credit with its banking partners and turn to government for short-term loans to free up capital to deliver buses to customers. With the help of the federal and provincial governments, the company would continue to grow its business, he said in December.
A month before the announcement, the City of Winnipeg negotiated to buy 16 electric buses, worth $33 million, from the local company.
“To have three levels of government supporting a critical business like ours is really a strong message. It’s a strong message to our customers, to our suppliers… and most importantly, to our employees,” Soubry said during the announcement. “We’re not going anywhere.”
The company previously received $20 million in government support in 2002, and US$15 million in 2004. Both loans were repaid.
The latest commercial loans are not expected to be finalized until later this month.
“The combined support from the government of Manitoba and Export Development Canada… will greatly strengthen our financial position and support our operations as we recover from these unprecedented challenges,” the spokesperson said.
“What’s frustrating about all this is that New Flyer has… basically billions of dollars of sales that they can’t complete because of supply chain issues,” NDP finance critic Mark Wasyliw said Tuesday evening.
“The (Progressive Conservative government) has known about this for two years, and they’ve done nothing. We have no industrial strategy in Manitoba, and we are lagging behind the rest of Canada when it comes to economic growth.”
Updated on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 7:35 PM CST: Adds statement of Mark Wasyliw