Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Layoffs increasing among Southern Ontario manufacturers due to crisis, says new report

April 13, 2020
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Photo: Adobe StockPhoto: wladimir1804/Adobe Stock

Industry associations The Canadian Association of Mold Makers (CAMM) and Automate Canada have released the third report in their weekly check-in with manufacturers about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Among the 90 survey respondents, the number of laid-off employees increased this week, while the number of employees off work for quarantine or self-isolation remained the same.

Automate Canada Chair Shelley Fellows says that while the numbers show a decline, there are also positive outcomes, such as the increased production of personal protective equipment to help Canada’s medical community.

“So many are negatively impacted but we also know we need to tackle this one step at a time and work for our members and even those in the broader manufacturing world,” she says.


Responses this week were primarily from the Southwestern Ontario region’s manufacturing, moldmaking and industrial automation cluster (CAMM and Automate Canada both operate out of Windsor, Ontario). Sixty-six per cent of respondents represent mold tool or die companies.

Staffing concerns

Almost 2,700 employees have been laid off from respondents’ companies in the past seven days, which was double the number reported the week prior.

Lack of available staff was the most frequently cited reason for the decline in operations that was reported by 91 per cent of respondents.

“The situation for manufacturers is not good,” says Mike Bilton, CAMM board chair.

“We can’t sugarcoat things but we also aren’t sitting back wringing our hands. Everyone is in this together so we gather data, we review and we come up with short- and long-term action plans.”

Cash flow concerns

Manufacturers continue to be most concerned by the negative impact on cash flow this crisis is having.

Employee anxiety remains a concern, according to 70 of the 90 respondents.

Nineteen per cent of respondents say their manufacturing has almost completely shut down, compared to eight per cent last week.

When asked, most respondents either didn’t commit to a date to returning to full operations, or stated it would be at least four more weeks before they could return.

Production help

The number of companies delivering products or services for medical equipment manufacturing increased again this week.

One-third of companies reporting expansion of existing offerings or the addition of new products or services.

Production tooling for medical equipment manufacturing was the most cited reason for expansion or added products or services.

Because of this, almost one-third of companies reported that they are operating at over 90 per cent of capacity and hiring still continues.

Ten per cent of respondents report their workplaces are hiring.

The previous two surveys have focused on increasing levels of employee anxiety and manufacturers’ readiness to produce needed medical equipment.

Automate Canada & CAMM’s industry survey for week four is available to complete until April 14 at noon ET.

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