TORONTO (CP) -- A new report from the Canadian Auto Workers Union says Chrysler Canada Inc. and General Motors of Canada Ltd. racked up an estimated $37-billion in profit between 1972 and 2007.
In his report, CAW economist Jim Stanford says the auto manufacturing industry only failed to turn a profit in 2002.
Stanford says the pool of black ink at GM Canada reached an estimated $31.75-billion, while Chrysler turned $4.95-billion in profit.
The two automakers are now seeking a bailout from Ottawa and Ontario as the global economic crisis pushes the companies towards bankruptcy.
Stanford says the study shows that assisting the industry is essential if Canada wants to "reap the benefits" in the future," he said.
His analysis was made by combining data the companies publicly released before 1996, with figures since then extracted from Statistics Canada data for the whole industry.
The debate over bailing out the companies reached a new level of urgency last week when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the province's pension insurance plan doesn't have enough money to cover pensions if one or more of the auto makers fails.
If that happened, it would mean workers who helped generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies would be denied compensation they effectively deferred until retirement, Stanford said.
"It is painfully ironic that the retirees who worked during the auto industry's 'golden age' should now be targeted for major reductions in income and benefits," he said.