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Canadian manufacturing sales rebounded in October from their supply-chain shortage-induced September slump.

 

Statistics Canada reported today that Canadian manufacturing sales rose 4.3 per cent, helped by gains in the automotive sector and the primary metal industry.

Motor vehicle sales rose 61.0 per cent to $3.1 billion in October after falling 35.8 per cent in September. Primary metal industry sales rose 4.0 per cent to $5.4 billion in October, driven by higher sales of alumina and aluminum products.

Manufacturing sales had dropped 2.8 per cent in September to $58.5 billion, primarily due to a significant drop in motor vehicle sales. The ongoing shortage of semiconductors hampered Canadian auto production enough to cause a 35.6 per cent drop in motor vehicle sales and a 13.5 per cent drop in vehicle parts in September.

Overall, sales increased in 17 of 21 industries in October.
It’s not all good news for Canadian metalworking shops, however. Sales of aerospace products and parts fell 8.3 per cent to $1.4-billion in October.

There is also help on the way for the nation’s supply chain challenges.
Earlier this week Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra announced he will host a national supply chain summit in early 2022 to “bring together industry, shippers and organizations that run critical infrastructure to discuss how to better streamline Canada’s supply chain.”

Alghabra says having such discussions will allow the government to identify ways to mitigate supply chain pressures and encourage stakeholders to come up with solutions to current issues.

There will also be money behind the talk. The 2021 federal budget includes an additional $1.9 billion over four years for the National Trade Corridor Fund that funds infrastructure projects.

“The National Summit will play a critical role in helping to ensure Canadians throughout the country have better access to essential goods without adding an increased burden of cost. Through collaboration with industry partners, we have an opportunity to address constraints in our supply chains that will ensure greater reliability and efficiency,” Alghabra said.

There is also positive news out of British Columbia where the province’s minister of transportation and infrastructure Rob Fleming announced that the storm-damaged Coquihalla highway will reopen no later than Monday, December 20th to commercial vehicles.

The Coquihalla had collapsed at multiple points during the historic Nov. 15 storm that caused catastrophic flooding and landslides in BC’s southwest region. The damage sustained along an approximately 130-kilometre stretch of the Coquihalla included 14 locations where lanes were either completely wiped out or significantly undermined, seven bridge structures that collapsed or were compromised and five separate slides impacting the highway.

Once the Coquihalla reopens the priority will be keeping B.C.'s supply chains up and running, Fleming said.

"The vehicles authorized to use the Coquihalla will be commercial trucks and intercity buses," Fleming said. "This will help allow for the safe transportation of goods and services to people and communities across the province."

Commercial traffic in and out of the Lower Mainland is currently limited to Highway 3, which is seeing about 3,000 semi-trailer trucks per day, making it too dangerous to allow non-essential passenger vehicles, according to CTV News Vancouver.

As positive as these developments may be, it’s important to keep in mind that the current supply chain challenges are global in nature and in large part caused by the ongoing pandemic. There are still more than 100 containerships spread out over 1000 miles of North American coastline waiting for berths to open up at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, two of North America’s largest entry points for cargo critical to manufacturing.

Even closer to home, the Canadian Trucking Alliance has raised concern that Canada’s decision to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for domestic federally regulated workers in the trucking industry will place an even bigger strain on an already beleaguered supply chain as drivers choose to quit their jobs rather than get vaccinated.

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