Memo to manufacturers: It’s time to raise our voices in government
By Paul Hogendoorn
Manufacturing has a huge impact on Canadian communities and on the economy. And yet, with the exception of a few large corporations, the collective voice of Canadian manufacturers is weak in Ottawa. Here’s a reminder of the impact our industry has on the economy. According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association (CME):
Our elected officials–local, provincial and national–should take more interest in these figures.
The $3.05 “multiplier effect” is especially significant. Almost every dollar a manufacturer earns comes from customers outside the community in which the manufacturer is located. Contrast this to the service sector where almost every dollar generated comes from within the community. While the service sector re-circulates wealth in a community, manufacturing creates wealth.
The higher wages earned in manufacturing careers also offer people opportunities to do things they might not be able to do otherwise. Things such as send their kids to college, build decent retirement savings plans, and buy recreational property. Every job lost in manufacturing is a loss not just for the individual involved, but also for the community.
You would think that with so much of our communities’ and nation’s well-being at stake, government would be sensitive to the needs and challenges of the manufacturing sector. Our government’s policies and the day-to-day decisions (or lack of decisions) make it difficult to be a manufacturer in Canada. Consider the following:
- The Ontario Government passed Bill 144, even though the CME, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce vigorously opposed it. The Bill, they said, would have ill effects on the manufacturing sector at a time when it’s already facing enormous competition and challenges from China and by the rising Canadian dollar;
- The Federal government has done little to improve relations with our largest trading partner, and the unresolved trade disputes and ongoing delays at the border are a byproduct of their inaction; and
- Many local governments have burdensome tax rates or are imposing development charges on new manufacturing facilities, making their communities less attractive for new businesses to locate there, and offering more reasons for companies to move elsewhere.
Though we can point a finger at government for making things this way, manufacturers also have to take responsibility. Most of us have no interest in getting involved, or say we are “too busy” to get involved. But we can’t afford to go on being indifferent and voiceless. There’s too much at stake.
Recently, city council officials in London, Ont., recommended a 1.8-percent hike in industrial development fees. The London Regional Manufacturing Council (LRMC), an informal organization established two years ago, was one of two groups that firmly opposed the increase and made a convincing case against it. Council voted 18-to-zero against the recommendation.
I urge you to get involved in and support organizations established by manufacturers for manufacturers. The more manufacturers get involved, the greater impact–and louder voice–those organizations will have in government.
Paul Hogendoorn is president of OES, a London, Ont.-based electronics manufacturing company. He is also a member of the London Regional Manufacturing Council (LRMC). E-mail him at email@example.com. For information about the LRMC, visit www.manufacturinglondon.com.