Buying Canadian Matters

The world economy is in crisis and, in Ontario, the crisis is becoming more evident every day with the major loss of jobs throughout many industries. The manufacturing sector has been especially hard-hit and now the trickle-down affect has begun.

Len Hope, Executive Member of the Grey Bruce Labour Council, feels strongly that 'Buying Canadian Matters'.

Hope recently spoke to Saugeen Shores Town Council about the concerns that the Labour Council has regarding the economic downturn, particularly, in the manufacturing sector.

According to hope, the crisis has become paramount in Ontario's economy and will continue to spread if everyone doesn't start to take part and support local Canadian business.

From May to July of this year, Statitics Canada reported job losses of 52,000 in Ontario and the numbers since then have escalated dramatically. Today, approximately 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Canada.

"There are local examples of businesses that have been unable to survive the economic trend of purchasing goods from outside the region, outside the province and outside the country," said Hope. "Local furniture companies, for example, have been forced to close despite the fact that they manufactured superior products. The PPG plant in Owen Sound is closing and the Volvo plant in Goderich has closed because it moved its operations to Mexico."

Rich in natural resources, Canada formerly designed, manufactured and exported high quality products such as cars, ships, buses, food product, furniture and machinery to other countries. Today, Canada exports all the raw materials to those same countries and buys back the finished products.

Raw lumber, for example, is sold to China and then Canada buys back manufactured furniture. As a result, major furniture manufacturers through Ontario are going under. Tomatoes that are grown in Ontario are shipped to the United States and then imported back in canned form. Fruits, such as peaches, have been shipped overseas and, again, imported back into the country as canned goods.

According to the Grey Bruce Labour Council, Canada needs a 'Buy Canadian Act' similar to the American 'Buy American Act'. The Act would set a priority for all government programs and procurements to buy goods manufactured by Canadian companies and workers. In the United States, there is a minimum requirement for 60% of all federally funded public transit projects to be U.S. based.

Hope pointed out that, "Japan and Korea have 'closed economies'. "They ship cars into Canada by the hundreds of thousands and yet only a few hundred 'made-in-Canada' vehicles are allowed into those countries. We need Fair Managed Trade not Free Trade.

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13/01/2009 04:23 PM


'Buy Canadian' legislation would simply put us in line with other nations around the world, and spending our money at home simply makes sense."

The resolution put forward to Saugeen Shores Town Council asks that the town adopt the 'Buy Canadian' policy where everything purchased by the municipality be at least 50% Canadian made.

Councillor Victoria Serda questioned how the town's tendering process actually works. "I realize there is a certain onus on taking the lowest tender. Even in the case of the new signage, we chose a U.S. company."

According to Ron Brown, CAO for the town, "We do not have a Canadian content rule and anything above $5,000, we take the lowest tender. If council endorses this resolution,we would have to go through a procurement policy change."

Deputy Mayor Doug Freiburger, asked what impact will -buy Canada' have on low income families. "I challenge that goods have become too expensive and what will it cost the average individual to 'Buy Canada'?

A private members bill, M-1893, calling for Canadian content rules has, in fact, been introduced for debate in Federal parliament.

Hope, on behalf of the Labour Council, put forward the resolution that the municipality adopt a 'Buy Canadian' policy that would include:

  • requiring a minimum of 50% Canadian content and domestic final assembly in the purchase of public transit vehicles

  • requiring the purchase of goods and services with the highest possible level of Canadian content
    requiring potential vendors to identify the source of goods and services and the overall level of Canadian content, as part of the tendering process

  • reporting annually to Council on the level of Canadian content in municipal purchases

  • identifying opportunities to enhance the level of Canadian content in future purchases and

  • ... calling on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to immediately enact 'Buy Canadian' legislation applying to direct public purchases, and to grants and other funding provided to municipal governments.

"Although this is the first municipal council we have approached," said Hope, "we are going to put this resolution forward to every Ontario Municipal Council."

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