The automotive industry is about more than just vehicle manufacturing.
On August 18, AIA Canada President J-F Champagne, went before the Government of Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, to testify about the importance of the Automotive Aftermarket to the province’s economy.
Focusing on the important role the Aftermarket played during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Champagne said that many Aftermarket businesses were responsible for servicing and maintaining the personal vehicles of essential front-line workers as well as those providing essential services such as emergency responders and utility companies.
Champagne noted, that the Ad Hoc approach by provincial governments during the early stages of COVID-19 in designating what were and what weren’t essential services had a major impact on the Automotive Aftermarket.
“This patchwork approach resulted in confusion for the industry, lost revenues, consumer questions about which businesses were open and obviously, these decisions were made without access to the right information.”
Champagne noted that despite this, the Automotive Aftermarket was more than up to the challenge of COVID-19 and while many businesses did appreciate financial assistance from the federal government, including the CEWS and CEBA funds, they were able to quickly implement safety protocols and ensure that vehicles could be serviced and repaired efficiently and effectively.
Moving forward, Champagne said that in representing the interests of the Automotive Aftermarket, AIA Canada had three recommendations post pandemic. These are:
- Ensure consistency with essential service designations
- Establish harmonized protocols on how automotive business will function in future crisis
- Ways to ensure businesses stay open during those crises to minimize the need for government financial aid
Champagne also noted that as vehicle complexity continues to increase, ways to advance skills and training for aftermarket professionals is critical to ensure they are able to meet the needs of motorists both today and tomorrow.
He also said that AIA Canada believes that in the Province of Ontario, regulation and certification in the collision repair marketplace will also promote better safety for consumers, better business practices, lower costs for insurers and a reduced risk of fraud.
“Ontario’s automotive industry is more than just vehicle manufacturing, it also includes the aftermarket and integrated supply chains,” said Champagne.
“When the government enacts policies focused on the automotive industry, it tends to focus on manufacturing and ignores the other half of the industry.”
Champagne noted that aftermarket small businesses can be found in every constituency in Ontario and play an active role in their local communities including sponsoring sports teams and other initiatives.
“We are the Automotive Aftermarket and we shouldn’t be an afterthought. We encourage the government to keep that in mind when developing automotive industry policies in the future.”