Dear Minister Clement,
I am writing to express my concern about the auto industry, which is a crucial part of the Canadian economy. The major auto assembly and parts sectors account for over 440,000 jobs in total and generate billions in tax revenues each year. Every job in a major auto plant supports 7.5 jobs in the national economy. In many respects, the auto industry is one of the driving forces behind Canada’s industrial success.
Today, this important industry is in crisis. Sales are slumping and jobs are being shed by the thousands. Sustaining this vital industry and protecting its workforce requires the full support of government, at all levels.
The global economic recession and ensuing credit freeze has hurt the auto industry, not only in Canada but throughout the world. Most governments around the world have moved quickly to provide industry loans, consumer incentives and guarantees in order to spur auto sales and other protections to keep workers on the job.
I recognize the support your government has so far provided the Canadian industry, but more must be done. In the short term, continued support for the auto industry must include a new national vehicle scrappage program that compliments a program for new government-backed warranties, in order to boost consumer spending.
At the same time, a national automotive strategy for Canada must be established, in coordination with major industry stakeholders including the domestic automakers (GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Suzuki), government and unions.
This strategy must not only address the industry's structural problems but also provide long-term solutions moving into the future and lay the foundation for a new North American Auto Pact. The Canada-U.S. Auto Pact (created in 1965 and then later dismantled by the World Trade Organization in 2001) was responsible for creating many of the current major auto facilities we have in Canada today, including the Toyota plant in Cambridge, Ontario.
Responding to the current crisis requires a viable long-term strategy to guide our industry in all key areas: fixing our infrastructure, investing in skills, supporting new capital, protecting the environment, and leveling the playing field in global trade. All levels of government must recognize the strategic importance of the auto industry and put in place necessary supports, including funding for green product development and new investments.
Canada boasts the most highly skilled, productive auto workforce in the world. We are well positioned to lead the global auto industry into the future. Now is the time for your government to show leadership and take immediate steps to ensure this important industry not only survives the current global economic storm but is strengthened and continues to prosper.