100 out of work as Cambridge shirt manufacturer announces closure
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:20PM EST
A Cambridge garment manufacturer is shutting its doors after 110 years of production.
The John Forsyth Shirt Company says the end of a federal funding program was also the end of the line for its operations.
Approximately 100 full-time employees will lose their jobs in the closure. They say they’re concerned about their future.
“We lost everything. I don’t know what we’re going to get anymore. No job, no money, no work,” one employee told CTV.
The company had been receiving a lifeline from the Duty Remission Program, a 25-year-old federal program aimed at giving traditional industries a chance to compete against cheaper labour conditions overseas.
Under the program, Canadian companies wouldn’t have to pay duties on importing products from overseas if they also had domestic production facilities.
That’s how Forsyth was able to keep producing shirts in Cambridge even as it had cheaper labour costs in China and Bangladesh.
Rick Droppo, Forsyth’s director of manufacturing, says the company wanted to keep manufacturing in Cambridge.
“They fought hard to keep the domestic factory as a part of the family, but (with) the pressures, we just cannot find enough work,” he said.
Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear says Forsyth’s closure is another example of a sea change in the Canadian economy.
“We must transition the country to a higher knowledge-based economy,” he told CTV.
“We must be more innovative and more competitive and more productive as a nation so that we have higher-value products.”
Droppo says some of Forsyth’s troubles were caused by difficulty getting even the federal government to buy Canadian-made garments.
“They go to Bangladesh and China for uniforms for government employees while they’re paying our employees here to sit at home now on EI,” he said.