TORONTO - Approximately 600 laid-off workers will be recalled at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont., in 2011 to begin production of the company's new Buick Regal.

Production of the Regal will require an additional shift at the plant, which will allow half of the 1,200 workers currently on layoff to be re-hired, said Chris Buckley, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 222 in Oshawa.

"It is good news for a large number of our laid-off members as we start producing this vehicle," Buckley said.

The 2011 Regal is a mid-size sport sedan based on the design of GM's Opel Insignia, which was named the 2009 European car of the year.

"It brings all of Insignia's award-winning design, technology and European-inspired performance capabilities to the North American market," the company said in a news release.

Production of the new Buick Regal, first reported as a possibility several months ago, is good news for GM Canada, which closed a 2,600-employee truck plant in Oshawa in May and plans to shutter a 1,400-employee transmission plant in Windsor, Ont., next year.

The Canadian auto industry, centred in southern Ontario, has undergone years of cuts due to falling auto sales that were exacerbated by the recession.

However, the outlook has improved in recent months.

The Oshawa plant has been running overtime shifts since June to produce GM's popular Chevrolet Camaro and, beginning in 2011, will produce the Camaro Convertible. It also produces the Chevrolet Impala.

Other good news for GM's Canadian plants includes the recent addition of a third shift plus overtime at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., to keep up with demand for the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. The CAMI plant is a joint venture between GM and Suzuki.

GM Canada has also introduced flexible transmission production at its St. Catharines, Ont., facility to assemble a fuel-efficient, six-speed front-wheel-drive transmission.

The new Buick Regal joins the Chevrolet Camaro, the Equinox and the GMC Terrain as the fourth new vehicle in the production commitment that was part of GM's agreement with the Canadian and Ontario governments, which provided the company with $10.5 billion in emergency loans.

A fifth vehicle will be named at a later date.

General Motors of Canada employs 9,000 people across the country.