Mary SciannaaClick image to enlargeWhen people think about the old adage

“you get what you pay for” it typically implies purchase inexpensive products, get poor quality. But there’s something else to consider. These inexpensive products are typically imported from low-cost labour countries, the same countries that in recent years have attracted North American manufacturing companies into their economies, contributing to the steady evaporation of manufacturing businesses and jobs in this continent.

The offshoring phenomenon has subsided somewhat and has been replaced by the more promising reshoring initiative, which has seen a trickle of manufacturers re-invest in manufacturing in North America. Indeed, last July, Walmart announced its partnership with The Reshoring Initiative in the US to help companies manufacture more consumer products in the US. The company announced it would increase its US purchases by $50 billion annually by January 2023 through a Made in the USA program.

It’s a positive move that will help manufacturers, but unfortunately it won’t likely help many Canadian manufacturers. That’s why Canada needs to ramp up its efforts to encourage the Walmarts of the world to take similar initiatives in Canada. Companies like Canadian Tire—and Walmart in Canada—could commit to purchasing more Canadian made products to help spur manufacturing activity here.

But we, as manufacturers and as consumers, must play a part in this too if it is to succeed. As manufacturers, we must invest in the technologies that can help to reduce operating costs and help to produce more competitively priced goods. But the truth is, we will never be able to produce goods as inexpensively as a low-labour cost country and that’s where our role as a consumer comes in. We need to be willing to pay more for Canadian-made goods.

I recall speaking to a retired employee of a large automotive manufacturer in Canada. He had just purchased a new vehicle, one not produced in Canada. Asked why he purchased a vehicle not made in the country, he simply said he preferred foreign made cars. It seemed odd to me at the time, and still does today, that after having had a successful 25-plus year career with the company that gave him the ability to retire comfortably that he wouldn’t want to support the next generation of automotive workers in Canada.

If manufacturing is to remain viable in Canada we must do our part to ensure its future, as business owners and as consumers. SMT

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