CME calls for swift action at National Supply Chain Summit

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Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) made several recommendations at yesterday’s National Supply Chain Summit, including a call on the federal government to immediately speed up immigration to address severe labour shortages.

The National Supply Chain Summit, was convened by the federal government to address the supply chain crisis and consider actions to address issues that are barriers to the country’s economic recovery. Dennis Darby, CME President and CEO, was joined by more than 30 other representatives from industry including manufacturing, agriculture, and business. Participants also included chief executive officers of railway, marine, air, trucking and retail companies

CME also detailed short and long-term solutions to ease supply chain bottlenecks, including striking 60-day sector specific task forces to deal with the most pressing issues. For the longer term, CME urged the government to accelerate investments in critical trade infrastructure, to aggressively increase economic class immigration targets, and to work closely with the U.S. to remove protectionist policies that hurt integrated manufacturing supply chains.

“Manufacturers have been feeling supply chain pressures for months now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Darby. “Omicron, natural disasters in B.C., and the trucker vaccine mandate, have all added to the crisis. We applaud the government for sitting down with industry to hammer out fixes to these problems.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra led the four-hour session that was also attended by International Trade Minister Mary Ng, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

At the summit, CME urged the government to continue working with industry by setting up dedicated working groups that would deal with these challenges, identify specific problems, and come up with solutions. Later, the government announced that it would indeed convene a task force and further meetings to arrive at solutions.

Darby also asked the government to immediately:

  • strike sector specific task forces to identify supply chain problems, their solutions, and that the government will commit to implementing the task force recommendations; 
  • address all transportation bottlenecks and avoid policies that will aggravate them further;
  • speed up immigration into Canada to fill vacant jobs in manufacturing and other key sectors;
  • provide assistance for manufacturers still struggling with the impacts of supply chain disruptions

In CME’s most recent Business Outlook Survey of the sector published in December, 88 per cent of manufacturers said suppliers’ delivery times were slower than the year before; 77 per claimed that attracting and retaining a quality workforce was their greatest challenge, and 47 per cent of them said supply chain disruptions were their biggest barrier.

“Bottom line, there are many things Canada must do to tackle the supply chain problem. But it all starts with a firm commitment from government to work with industry to resolve these challenges. One meeting is not enough, and we are glad to see the government plans to continue the discussion.” concluded Darby.

Over the coming weeks, this Summit is to be followed by a series of regional and industry sessions to continue the dialogue.

To further advance this work, a new Supply Chain Task Force will be created. The Task Force will consult with industry experts to make recommendations regarding short and long-term actions pertaining to Canada’s supply chain. In addition, Transport Canada will make available an online portal for stakeholders and businesses to be able to provide opinions and suggestions. 

Minister Alghabra meanwhile announced a new, $50 million targeted call for proposals under the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) to immediately relieve supply chain congestion at Canadian ports, for example by increasing their storage capacity. 

Budget 2021 also provided an additional $1.9 billion over four years to recapitalize the National Trade Corridor Fund that makes our supply chain more efficient and supports our economic recovery.

The manufacturing sector represents more than 10% of Canada’s gross domestic product and manufacturers directly support more than 1.7 million jobs in Canada. Total manufacturing sales in 2019 surpassed $685 B.


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