Auto Mayors Local and Provincial 2018 Update

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – for immediate release
Auto Mayors statement on CPTPP and NAFTA

The Auto Mayors are continuing to pay close attention to developments in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations and the Comprehensive &
Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) deal to ensure the outcomes support Canadian jobs and Canadian communities.

“We support trade agreements that open new markets and encourage increased exports of Canadian produced vehicles and parts,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton,
Chair of Auto Mayors. “We urge the federal government to work collaboratively with the Canadian auto industry to maintain and expand automotive manufacturing in Ontario.”

The Auto Mayors support Ontario’s auto sector and the highly skilled advanced manufacturing jobs that it creates.

The Ontario Auto Mayors are urging the federal government to work collaboratively with the Canadian auto industry to address their concerns and halt any Comprehensive & Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) discussions regarding Canada’s auto sector until the NAFTA renegotiations have been completed.

Locally, Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper is working with Martin Rydlo, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Collingwood, to determine what can be done to assist local automotive related industries.

Mayor Sandra Cooper - Auto Mayors Roundtable
Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper at the Ontario Auto Mayors Roundtable in Oakville

In mid January, Ford Motor Company announced that a new vehicle will be assembled in Oakville, a move that union officials said at the time confirms the automaker’s commitment to the future of Canada’s auto industry.

This type of development is terrific news not only for workers and their families in the immediate Oakville area, but for auto industry workers throughout the province.

However, as good as this news was, it only represented one win on an isolated playing field that demands a much bigger local, provincial and national victory.

Bringing a Provincial Discussion Home to Collingwood

Following the most recent Ontario Auto Mayors meetings, those in attendance including Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper came away with the homework of talking to their local auto related industry officials about their needs.

The objective was to collect their views on the current state of NAFTA negotiations and their opinions on what the community and provincial leaders could do to help the cause.

In Collingwood, Mayor Cooper will continue to talk to company representatives at Pilkington (NSG) and VOA Canada (seatbelt webbing).

“How does TPP impact export of your products? With material being shipped from Mexico or southern US, will there be impact on availability or time constraints in the future?”

Upon returning home to Collingwood following the last meeting, Mayor Cooper said that discussions focused on providing solutions to what is a very complex issue.

“We’re trying to wade through the weeds. There is an automotive caucus federally and they have been working on this for quite some time. I think that we have come away with having to contact our local industries, whether it be assembly plants or parts manufacturing operations to get their input before we come together again.”

Helping Collingwood Automotive Related Industries

Martin Rydlo, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Town of Collingwood

Martin Rydlo, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Collingwood, is working with Mayor Cooper to determine what can be done to assist local automotive related industries moving forward.

“In terms of NAFTA discussions, local manufacturers involved in the auto sector are each taking their own strategies, largely driven by the fact that their head offices are managing this critical issue. As a municipality, Mayor Cooper is staying connected with other municipalities through the Auto Mayors meetings she regularly attends. Mayor Cooper keeps me updated on developments and any specific opportunities for the Town of Collingwood to get more involved.”

While the automotive industry concerns surrounding ongoing NAFTA discussions are province and nation-wide, Rydlo says he must, understandably, focus on local issues.

“Local manufacturers are more focused on key issues impacting their facilities directly, and that has almost exclusively related to the labour shortage in the region. It is something we are seeing across many sectors in the region, with attainable accommodation and affordable transportation among the biggest challenges, along with training and managing the changes which Bill 148 has brought about.”

Rydlo says the Town of Collingwood continues to work closely with Simcoe and Grey Counties, as well as Georgian College, to help with recruitment strategies, job posting portals, employee training assistance, Bill 148 policy perspectives and more.

“Just this past week Simcoe County hosted a Manufacturers’ Breakfast in Collingwood to share the extensive resources available and discuss challenges and opportunities facing the manufacturing sector.”

Rydlo pointed out that a regional Labour Task Force has been created, with 7 key areas of focus and significant regional collaboration.

This task force, led by Blue Mountain Village Association President Andrew Siegwart, presented an overview to Collingwood Council in January.

At that time Mr. Siegwart painted a bleak picture of the current labour shortage challenges facing business owners in the region, and made it clear that action is needed now to correct the problems before the situation becomes even worse.

Work has already begun to help correct this situation

Martin Rydlo says work has now begun to help correct this situation He said a spin-off regional task force focused on transportation has also recently been formed.

(Click here to read more about Mr. Siegwart’s presentation in a previous story.)

So you can see that a discussion of how Collingwood Town officials can work with automotive related industries has quickly expanded into a much larger conversation dealing with a local and regional labour shortage.

The issues have been identified and work is well underway to improve the current situation.

As for the Ontario Auto Mayors, they will continue to meet in Oakville to address concerns and work to find solutions for the good of all auto related industries.

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