Fragile global supply chains have been one of the most important issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and group of former Canadian parliamentarians, including former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello, are launching a non-partisan organization called Reshoring Canada to help tackle the problem.
The organization’s aim is to promote a modern, secure, less risky supply chain through reshoring and domestic duplication.
Reshoring Canada will officially launch Friday with its website (reshoringcanada.ca) going live.
“There’s a confluence of events, geo-political, pandemic and others, suddenly casting light on areas we need to get a hold on,” said Pupatello, a former minister of Trade and Economic Development.
“It’s been microchips for months, vaccines, PPE and now the supply of rubber this morning that have become issues. We need the hard data to create solutions to reduce risk and increase security.
“That may mean reshoring production to Canada.”
Pupatello and former federal Conservative Industry minister/President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement will co-chair the organization. Also listed as a co-founder is retired Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth, who has a background in the agricultural sector.
The trio are serving as volunteers in launching the non-profit organization.
The new organization has already formed partnerships with the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and the Ontario Mining Association.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of strong domestic supply chains,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Ontario is the economic, innovation and manufacturing engine of Canada and we can make anything here with our highly-skilled workforce. Reshoring Canada will help to ensure Ontario and Canada are ahead of the curve with strengthened supply chains so that we are well-prepared for any future challenges.”
Southwestern Ontario’s extensive automotive and advanced manufacturing sector would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of reshoring or domestic duplication of supply chains.
Local suppliers, such as Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing, have already seen increases in queries from Fortune 500 firms looking to reshore production.
“The pandemic and the new NAFTA have forced all of us to look inwardly and ask ‘what should be made here’ and ask outwardly ‘what could be made here,” said Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association president Flavio Volpe.
“We have the skills, the resources and people — we need the will to reset the state of play.”
The new organization’s first step is to collect data on the issue.
Reshoring Canada’s goal is to bring focused solutions representing the input of a large numbers of companies backed by data to help government decide how to respond.
“That data doesn’t exist at this point and they’re (government) hearing from all kinds of people,” Pupatello said.
“We need to understand the number of sectors this is impacting. We can then pick an area to prioritize that’ll provide solutions across many sectors.”
The three industry associations will aid in the distribution of surveys to their extensive memberships across the nation.
Pupatello added having these national conversations on supply chains is vital in the wake of the seismic events of the past 14 months.
“We’re dealing with new realities and as major global trader we need to change course,” Pupatello said. “This is about jobs.
“Even friends we’ve always felt we could count on are not as sure for us. Some of those countries have put up economic roadblocks between us.
“We’re now saying it’s worth the price to protect certain elements of the economy and localize production to protect our citizens.”