Heinz says talks with Ontario couldn't save Leamington plant

H.J. Heinz Co. says it and the Ontario government couldn't come up with a way to save the Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont.

740 full-time employees lost their jobs last week, Heinz adding 249 in Ohio

Heinz said talks with the province broke down and failed to save Leamington plant. (CBC News)

H.J. Heinz Co. says it and the Ontario government couldn't come up with a way to save the Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont., and its 740 full-time employees.

"We had open discussions with multiple people in the Ontario government," Heinz spokesperson Michael Mullen said in an emailed statement to CBC News. "Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save the facility in Leamington."

Premier Kathleen Wynne said a day after the announcement that she had talked with the company, prior to the closure.

“I had had previous conversations a number of times with officials from Heinz,” Wynne said Nov. 14.

She did not elaborate on what was discussed.

“I’m not sure there’s a way to salvage [Heinz],” she added. “I don’t know what the possibilities are there.”

Leamington Mayor John Paterson said he is to meet with Heinz officials Friday to discuss options for the plant when it closes next June.

"They've reached out to me this time. I don't know what the meeting's for, what they plan to discuss," Paterson said. "I will have a bunch of questions to ask and hopefully will have that opportunity."

Heinz also closed two U.S. plants. It reduced its North American workforce by 1,350 positions by consolidating manufacturing .

"At the same time, Heinz will continue to invest in improving capacity utilization and will add 470 employees across five existing factories in Ohio, Iowa, California and Canada," Mullen said in the statement.

One of those plants is the Massillon plant in Ohio, where 249 jobs will be added.

The frozen food operations there will be known as the Heinz North American Center of Excellence, Mullen said.

"As frozen foods were not produced in Leamington, the two decisions are mutually exclusive," Mullen said.

Heinz also plans to continue to invest in its St. Marys, Ont., facility in Canada.


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