Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Report: Southern Ontario manufacturers staffing back up as operations return to pre-COVID levels

June 15, 2020
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Three-quarters of the companies polled in the latest survey by Automate Canada and the Canadian Association of Mold Makers say they have recalled employees or hired new staff as operations begin to ramp up after COVID-19 lockdowns.

The sister associations have resumed their COVID-19 impact surveys after a short hiatus, now on a monthly basis instead of weekly. Responses are voluntary and primarily from companies in the Southwestern Ontario region, which has a significant manufacturing, moldmaking and industrial automation cluster.

“We still have some difficulties to deal with but there is good news for our industry, and certainly both our CAMM and Automate Canada boards are making a difference in ensuring we address issues and concerns facing our members,” says Mike Bilton, CAMM board chair. “The feedback from these surveys has been of great help.”

The survey shows that the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has remained the most popular financial support program from the federal government, and employers report improvements in health and safety practices in the workplace, flexible work from home arrangements and collaboration among employees.


As for challenges, there are still one third of survey respondents that have not yet called all employees back to work from layoff due to uncertainties about cash flow, reduced demand from their customers and the need to stem losses and focus on generating a profit.

Fifteen per cent of respondents reported that one of their customers has notified them they are in serious financial distress.

Other concerns raised include difficulty meeting eligibility criteria for government support programs and challenges with closed borders. Fifteen per cent of companies polled report permanent layoffs.

Just over one third of respondents said that they did not meet the qualification criteria for one or more financial support programs from the government, so they were not successful in obtaining support.

In earlier surveys, there were greater numbers of programs being cancelled or delayed. Now, the number of new RFQs is higher than the number of programs being cancelled.

“Our industries recognize how vital they are to the Canadian economy and a strong domestic manufacturing sector,” says Shelley Fellows, chair of Automate Canada.

“I’m pleased to see the trend of improvement continuing for our sectors, however I recognize that there is still a long way to go to return to normalcy and growth. We are committed to supporting our members in that path and will focus on developing programs to help them.”

CAMM and Automate Canada have been assisted in the distribution of each week’s survey by the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA).

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