Statement on the Need for a Canadian Auto Policy

Statement on the Need for a Canadian Auto Policy

June 7, 2012

OTTAWA, ON – In light of the Parliamentary Secretary for Industry Mike Lake MP’s visit to Windsor today to address Canadian and American automotive industry leaders at the 2012 Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association Annual Conference and Exhibition, I would like to take this opportunity to address again the urgent need for a Canadian auto policy. 

Since 2002 I have been working with Canadian industry stakeholders to ensure that respective governments in power have heard and addressed their needs; to date, this has not happened.  The last concrete action on the automotive industry, and the potential of working towards a successful and profitable future for our Canadian automotive markets, happened in 2004. 

In October 2004, the recommendations of the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council (CAPC) were released.  CAPC was created in 2002 to be an industry-led group studying the needs of our Canadian automotive manufacturers and was comprised of industry leaders, CAW representatives, both federal and provincial industry leaders and had university representation.  Their October 2004 report entitled, “A Call for Action,” presented five key areas requiring immediate attention at that time including: investment incentives, infrastructure improvements, increasing innovation capacity, regulatory harmonization and human resource  initiatives to ensure a talented, flexible, and innovative workforce.

Since that time, little has been said or done by the Harper Conservatives to address the ever-changing and increasing needs of Canadian automotive manufacturers and their workers.  In fact, the last meeting of this group was in May 2007 – right before the economic crisis hit and we almost saw a complete collapse in the industry!  They have not met since, and instead, we have seen as recently as this week in Oshawa, the loss of another 2000 jobs.

Devising a national automotive policy will require a lot of hard work.  So many aspects are involved and need addressing from the ever-changing technologies, to innovation, international trade, environmental and regulatory concerns and jobs at all levels.  In 1999 Canada had an automotive trade surplus $15 billion.  Today, we have a deficit of $16 billion and have lost 46,000 Canadian automotive jobs in the last decade.

We are at a critical point and can no longer simply stand by to watch another opportunity lost.  If this federal government is serious about fostering a healthy automotive industry in Canada, than the time to act is now before we lose more plants and jobs.  It is time for the Industry Minister to bring CAPC back, and for him to listen to workers, manufacturers and municipalities.  We need a long-term strategy, not more band-aid solutions.  We need to take advantage of what opportunities we have to help our Canadian automotive industry flourish and to encourage new investment in our automotive sector.  If we don’t act now, we won’t have another chance before we lose this industry entirely.

Brian Masse is the Member of Parliament for Windsor West.  He is the Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee of Industry and the Chair of the NDP Automotive Caucus.