Automakers scale back as blockade disruption continues
Canadian automakers are scaling back production and bracing for continued disruptions as trucker blockades at U.S. border crossings worsen an industry-wide parts shortage.
Shipping delays are rippling through the economy amid the ongoing protests that have idled Canada-bound traffic on the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ont.
Thousands of workers have seen their hours cut back as carmakers curb capacity, a situation having a knock-on effect on local suppliers and the broader economy.
“It’s not only an automotive problem, it’s a huge economic problem for Canada as a whole,” said Dino Chiodo, auto director with Unifor, the largest auto sector union in the country, on Thursday. “You’ve got wage losses that can’t be made up, and then independent parts suppliers shutting down … the spillover effect is huge.”
The automotive sector, which relies heavily on the trade of goods back and forth across the border, is emerging as one of the hardest hit by the blockades.
Roughly $400 million in goods cross the Ambassador Bridge every day, representing nearly one-third of all trade between Canada and the United States, said Brian Kingston, president and CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.
“For the automotive industry, which is totally integrated throughout North America, that is a pivotal piece of infrastructure,” he said. “We are faced with this very unfortunate situation where this bridge has been blocked. We are now witnessing production stoppages and reductions at auto assembly plants across Ontario.”
With commercial traffic backed up on the bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, automakers have tried to find alternate shipping routes.