The Swedish company Northvolt must formalize this morning that it will build a battery cell manufacturing plant in Montérégie, in the company of federal and provincial elected officials.
The Prime Ministers of Canada and Quebec, Justin Trudeau and François Legault, will be present for this press conference, scheduled for 11 a.m.
With its battery cell manufacturing plant, the company would fill the missing link in the battery industry in Quebec. Various reports have mentioned the creation of 4,000 jobs for an investment of $7 billion. The chosen land would be 100 hectares, or more than 75 football fields.
The project is the worst kept secret in the Quebec economic world. The Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, has regularly alluded to it in recent weeks and numerous reports have discussed elements of the project.
The announcement is already raising fears in the region while a petition of 700 names has been submitted to the McMasterville municipal council in order to block the project. The signatories fear the plant will cause noise and pollution.
Minister Fitzgibbon believes that we should give the runner a chance. “What is important is that, when a project is announced, no matter which one, the company can explain to citizens what the nature of the project will be, how the company will respect the issues, which are legitimate, noise issue , visibility issue. Let’s give the company (the opportunity) to be able to explain to citizens. »
He considers that it is normal for there to be people who oppose an economic project. “The history of Quebec is such that a project is never 100% accepted. »
Thursday’s event is part of a series of recent announcements in the battery ecosystem in Quebec. Ottawa and Quebec have granted $640 million in aid for the Ford plant in Bécancour. That of GM-Posco, for its part, benefited from support of nearly $300 million from both levels of government.
The amounts allocated to the battery sector have, however, been the subject of criticism. The President and CEO of the National Bank, Laurent Ferreira, criticized, last week, government subsidies paid to foreign companies, in particular to develop the battery sector.
“My point on this is that when we give subsidies to foreign companies, they go directly into the pockets of foreign shareholders who are mainly not Canadian,” Mr. Ferreira said in an interview, in margin of a presentation before the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM). I doubt this model, in the longer term, in wealth creation. »
In response, Mr Fitzgibbon defended the aid during a press scrum on Friday. “If there were no government subsidies, there would be zero in the battery sector in Canada. It would be in the United States. »
He suggested he would provide data to demonstrate the benefits of government investments during Thursday’s announcement. “I will come back with figures to show what the impact of this sector is. »