Stellantis negotiations moving in positive direction, government sources say

There’s been progress on a deal to allow the Stellantis-LG Energy Solution electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont., to go ahead, sources tell CBC News.

It's been almost 3 weeks since negotiations between Ottawa and the automaker spilled out in public

An industrial site with cranes in the air and a metal structure surrounded by a fence.
The site of the NextStar electric battery plant project is shown on May 31. Stellantis has halted most of the construction at the facility after it said it had reached an impasse with the federal government on the terms of the deal. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

There's been progress on an agreement to allow the Stellantis-LG Energy Solution electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont., to go ahead, sources tell CBC News.

On Wednesday, multiple senior government sources with knowledge of the negotiations said that while there is no agreement yet, there's been a lot of progress in the last 24 hours.

Details still need to be finalized, though the negotiations are moving in a positive direction, the sources say.

The update comes after the Toronto Star reported that a tentative deal had been reached between the automaker and the federal and provincial governments, citing confidential sources. CBC News has been unable to independently verify that reporting.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens called the report "premature."

"What I'm hearing is that there is no deal yet, that negotiations are ongoing," he said, noting that he's hopeful that things are moving in the right direction.

A spokesperson for Stellantis — which makes Chrysler, Ram and Fiat vehicles among others — declined comment.

Liberal Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk says that he spoke with Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne Wednesday afternoon and the federal government remains "fully engaged" in talks.

"We continue to fight to secure the battery plant and the thousands of jobs for our workers and our community. It is important all partners stretch to get this across the finish line."

Friday will mark three weeks since Stellantis said that Ottawa isn't honouring an agreement related to the project and it would move to "contingency plans." Stellantis has halted most of the construction at the facility.

The automaker and South Korean battery-maker LG Energy Solution announced the $5-billion project last year and said it was expected to create 2,500 jobs. At the time it was announced, the facility was expected to open in 2024.

Experts say Canada's deal with another automaker, Volkswagen, which plans to open a massive factory in St. Thomas, Ont., is connected to the impasse.

That deal, which was struck after new, lucrative incentives were announced in the U.S., includes subsidies worth up to $13 billion plus a $700-million grant.

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse called on Ottawa Wednesday to match the deal offered to Volkswagen.

With files from the Canadian Press