Kitchener-Waterloo

Toyota Canada to delay full plant re-opening until May 11 week

Toyota Canada says it will postpone the scheduled reopening of its Cambridge and Woodstock plants another week.

Plants in Cambridge and Woodstock employ more than 8,000 people

Toyota Canada has again postponed the reopening of its Cambridge and Woodstock plants until the week of May 11, CBC News has learned. (Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press)

Toyota Canada has once again postponed the planned reopening of its manufacturing operations, according to a statement from the company.

The company's North American plants, including those in Cambridge and Woodstock, had been set to resume production the week of May 4. Instead, the company said it will now restart operations the week of May 11.

In the statement, a spokesperson said the decision was based on a review of the company's supplier and logistics network.

Lee Sperduti, a team lead at Toyota Cambridge, told CBC News he hopes the company takes the opportunity to further refine their workplace safety protocols and reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. 

"I think [the delay] is a good opportunity to take the time and reevaluate some of the concerns of team members ... and make them better for everybody to return when we return," Sperduti said. 

Cambridge MP Bryan May said reopening will be a challenge for Toyota Canada. But, he said he's "cautiously optimistic" about the strategy company officials have shared with him.

"I just know it would be devastating for them as a company ... to have to shut down again if they were to have some kind of outbreak," he said.

"I am confident they've spent an incredible amount of time and energy and resources to get this right."

3 workers tested positive

The company first shut down production on March 19 after a worker at the Cambridge plant tested positive for COVID-19. A total of three workers so far have tested positive, according to Toyota Canada.

Initially, plants were set to resume production on March 25 but the company has pushed that date back multiple times. 

"The health and safety of our employees and communities remains our top priority, and we have implemented new protocols at all of our North American manufacturing plants to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19," said spokesperson Michael Bouliane in an email Wednesday.

"We will continue to follow the guidance of health authorities and monitor vehicle demand as we carefully ramp up production."

Some management employees began returning to work last week to prepare for a return to production. 

More than 8,000 people in Ontario work for Toyota in Cambridge and Woodstock. 

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