Wynne announces $200K for Leamington after Heinz closure

Ontario will provide $200,000 in assistance to those affected by the closure of the H.J. Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont.

Ontario will provide $200,000 in assistance to those affected by the closure of the H.J. Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont.

Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement Friday afternoon while speaking at a Windsor Regional Chamber of Commerce event in Windsor, Ont., northwest of Leamington.

The money will come from the Communities in Transition program to, as Wynne said, “help people in the community through this difficult time.”

Last week, Heinz said it will close its tomato processing plant in mid-2014. The closure means 740 full-time employees will lose their jobs.

Wynne said investing in people, especially young people, will help create jobs and give them the tools they need to succeed.

Wynne said the province is investing in people, infrastructure and targeted businesses in an effort to grow jobs in the region.

Wynne also said that through the Rapid Re-employment and Training Service Program, the government is working with employees affected by the closure to help them plan their next steps, find new jobs or get new skills.

After the announcement in Windsor, Wynne travelled to Leamington to meet with farmers, businesspeople, local politicans and the union representing Heinz workers.

Robert Crawford, the president of UFCW 459, said he posed several questions to the Premier about Heinz at the meeting. However, he said the amount of money announced by Wynne is not enough.

"I guess it's the beginning," he said.  "Very disappointed.  Nothing is changing.  The plant is closing."

Leamington Mayor, John Paterson, said he was thrilled to have the Premier visit.

"I wasn't expecting any big promises from her at all," he said. "I don't think any of us were. We just wanted an opportunity to see her face to face and tell her what's happening here.  What we see happening and what we hope to happen. And ask her for her support.  We got that today."


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