CME says only 30 per cent of manufacturers have seen their production return to the pre-pandemic levels of last FebruaryClick image to enlargeCanadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ (CME) newly released Management Issues Survey shows the impact of the global pandemic on manufacturers, including disruptions in supply chain and increased labour and skills shortages.

Some 60 per cent of companies surveyed say they have immediate labour shortages. This compares to 70 per cent in 2018 and 40 per cent in 2016.

Thirty per cent of manufacturers have seen their production return to pre-pandemic levels of last February. However, 10 per cent are still very pessimistic about the future of their businesses. A further five per cent believe their sales will never fully recover.

"While the results tell us that many manufacturers believe the economic scars of the pandemic will linger for years to come, the survey also shows that Canada has an enormous opportunity to win back manufacturing investment," CME's president and CEO Dennis Darby said.

The survey revealed that 15 per cent of manufacturers scaled up or retooled their operations to make components and products such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers.

Not only are manufacturers making PPE, they are also big purchasers of it. In an effort to keep their workers safe, about 60 per cent of the companies surveyed said they will spend about $200,000 this year on PPE.

Darby notes the pandemic has also revealed that manufacturers need to diversify supply chains as they are too reliant on a limited range of markets.

"This should elicit a strong response from Canada's governments to step up its global competitiveness so it can attract investment from firms looking to re-shore manufacturing," said Darby.

More than 550 companies from nearly 20 industries responded, representing a broad cross-section of Canadian manufacturing. It was presented at the CME's annual general meeting.

CME's complete survey report is available here.

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