OTTAWA – Bombardier Inc. CEO Alain Bellemare has asked Ottawa for money for the struggling aerospace giant, the federal economic development minister said Wednesday.
Navdeep Bains would not specify the dollar figure Bellemare requested during their conversation.
“I don’t want to negotiate in public but there is no doubt they definitely made a request,” Bains said while attending the Canadian Aerospace Summit in Ottawa.
“We’re going to make sure we examine it and do our homework. I’m confident we’ll make a responsible decision in the best interest of taxpayers.”
The Quebec government pledged $1.3 billion in October to help Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) complete the CSeries aircraft line, which is about two years behind schedule.
Quebec Economy Minister Jacques Daoust said at the time he expected Ottawa to also help finance Bombardier, which is considered one of the most important companies in the province.
Bains noted that any financial participation by the federal government would have to generate economic growth in the country as well as being advantageous for Canadian taxpayers.
“We’re going to make sure we look for what the best value for the Canadian dollar is,” he said.
“We’re going to make sure we focus on what’s good for the economy and what will help grow the economy and create jobs. We’re looking at the business case to make sure we do our due diligence and homework.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week Bombardier needed to present a solid business plan before he would consider injecting money to help the company, while Bains said Wednesday the government realizes the importance of the aerospace sector to the economy.
Daoust and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard justified their decision to invest in Bombardier by saying the company is too important to not support and that the massive cash injection is critical to keeping good jobs and tax revenues.
Couillard said the province’s aerospace industry supports 40,000 jobs and the government’s cash injection is an investment, not a loan.
The Quebec government will own 49.5 per cent of a new joint company with Bombardier that would be solely responsible for the CSeries aircraft.
Couillard said under the agreement, Quebec has a direct say in the development of the CSeries plane and a 20-year guarantee Bombardier will keep its headquarters, manufacturing and engineering facilities in the province.