Bombardier Clamors for Federal Help Amid Layoffs

February 17, 2016 Updated: February 21, 2016

OTTAWA—The pressure on the federal government to pull Bombardier Inc. out of its latest nosedive mounted Wednesday, Feb. 17, as the struggling Montreal aerospace giant slashed more than 10 percent of its Canadian workforce.

The gloomy layoff news came with a silver lining, however: Air Canada’s agreement to buy 45 planes from Bombardier’s struggling CSeries aircraft line, with an option to purchase up to 30 more.

Nonetheless, the CSeries—behind schedule, about US$2 billion over budget, and with fewer-than-expected buyers—is the primary reason for Bombardier’s request for financial aid from the federal government.

The appeal to Ottawa came as the Quebec government pledged about US$1 billion in October to help complete the CSeries and reassure would-be buyers. Quebec Economy Minister Jacques Daoust said last fall he would ask Ottawa to match that amount.

The job-cut announcement Wednesday included 2,830 layoffs in Canada—2,400 of which were in Quebec—and 7,000 overall.

“It’s always a sad moment when jobs are lost in this country,” said federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Garneau, however, did not provide any updates on the status of Bombardier’s request. He repeated the message that the government was still doing its due diligence by examining the manufacturer’s business case.

The federal government’s plan is widely expected to be in its first budget, due late next month.

“It is, after all, a great deal of money … that we are entrusted with from the taxpayer, and we will make a decision in due course,” Garneau said.