Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Survey: Ongoing border restrictions are costing manufacturers millions

January 28, 2021
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Photo: ChristopherBernard/Getty Images

Manufacturers are losing tens of millions of dollars in business due to closures at the Canada-U.S. border, says a new survey conducted by several industry associations.

The Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA), in partnership with the Canadian Association of Moldmakers, (CAMM), Automate Canada and the Niagara Industrial Association (NIA), recently conducted a survey of manufacturers and suppliers in Southern Ontario to measure the effects of border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic within the manufacturing industry.

Border restrictions barring non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. have been in place since Mar. 21, 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The 39 survey participants said these restrictions have led to increased costs to accommodate government-mandated quarantine, unavailability of key personnel, loss of revenue, loss of customer relationships and reduced investments in new technology to accommodate the above. One key problem, the associations say, is that the definition of what is “essential” work is not consistently applied at the border.

The survey indicates more than two-thirds of respondents have lost business amounting to tens of millions of dollars due to issues at the Canada-U.S. border.

Of the survey participants, 80 per cent revealed they require their U.S.-based customers or suppliers to visit their facility for project inspections, sign-offs or technical support or service.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents have experienced moderate to substantial effects on their businesses. Almost three-quarters of participants reported they have or will have a negative financial impact specifically due to border-crossing issues. More than a third of respondents reported that the magnitude is $1 million or more.

The associations are calling on the government to provide a clearer definition of “essential workers” to help Canada Border Services Agency personnel better understand the guidelines, provide more detail on documentation requirements, and implement rapid testing at ports of entry to reduce quarantine periods for individuals travelling across the border to perform essential services.

“To be clear, our associations are not asking for the border to open, but rather a process to keep everyone safe and at the same time be able to continue to operate essential services,” says Robert Cattle, executive director for the CTMA, in a statement.

“Manufacturing is essential. Manufacturers produce food, pharmaceutical goods and common products so important to our daily lives,” says Shelley Fellows, chair, Automate Canada.

“The tool and die, mould making and industrial automation sectors are vital pillars of support for manufacturing, as they provide equipment, software, services and tools to keep manufacturing running.”

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