The province has announced the composition of the Premier’s Council on U.S. Trade and Industry Competitiveness with the appointment of ten members representing manufacturing and labour. Premier Doug Ford announced the creation of the Council in December 2021, with Unifor National President Jerry Dias as the Chair, to protect Ontario’s rights under trade agreements and the workers across the province who depend on a secure, prosperous and integrated North American economy.
“The creation of this council comes at a critical time for the Ontario economy as certain players in the U.S. bang the drum of protectionism,” said Premier Doug Ford. “At a time when our government is laying the groundwork to unleash the full potential of our economy, we have worked too hard to create a seamless and integrated auto industry that hugely benefits both our countries to see that destroyed by politics.”
Since the announcement of the Council, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Council Chair Jerry Dias have enlisted the following members:
David Adams – President, Global Automakers of Canada
Catherine Cobden – President & CEO, Canadian Steel Producers Association
George Gilvesy – Director and Chair, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
Maryscott “Scotty” Greenwood – CEO, Canadian American Business Council
Goldy Hyder – President & CEO, Business Council of Canada
Brian Kingston – President & CEO, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association
Craig McInnes – President, Teamsters Local Union 938 in Ontario and member of the Teamsters Canada Executive Board
Veso Sobot – Former Director, Corporate Affairs at IPEX Management Inc.
Flavio Volpe – CEO, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association
Michael Willick – President, M. L. Willick & Associates Ltd.
The U.S. government is considering protectionist measures that would threaten key industries across Ontario, including auto, lumber, steel, agriculture and more. Of particular importance, measures being debated by the U.S. Congress would impact auto agreements that began in 1965 with the Auto Pact, were solidified in 1994 by NAFTA and reaffirmed in 2020 with the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.
The Premier’s Council Chair, together with the other Council members, will continue to build on work already undertaken to engage key allies and people with influence across the United States. The Council will engage industry partners across the United States, particularly with Great Lakes states where existing supply chains are inextricably integrated with Ontario industries and vulnerable to disruption by protectionist measures currently being debated by the U.S. Congress.
Two-way trade between Ontario and the U.S. totalled CAD $358 billion in 2020, accounting for 53 per cent of the total merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S.
Vehicle assembly and auto parts production directly supports nearly 100,000 Ontario jobs, with hundreds of thousands more spin-off jobs in communities across the province.