July 2, 2020

Viability of Canada’s Aerospace Industry Questioned


In an op-ed published in the June 29 edition of the Hill Times, former deputy prime minister and Quebec premier Jean Charest sounds an alarm bell about the lack of government support for Canada’s aerospace industry.

Charest, a partner at McCarthy Tetrault, is chair of Vision 2025, a group composed of representatives of the aerospace sector which, in collaboration with the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), released a report in 2019 calling for action from the federal government to raise the level of support for the sector. Charest says that warning went unheeded by Ottawa.

Now, given the COVID-19 pandemic and still no action by the federal government on this file, Charest writes, “…we’re on the brink of losing it all.”

The op-ed points out that governments in foreign jurisdictions which compete with Canada’s aerospace industry have already responded to the devastating effects on the aerospace industry of the pandemic with announcements of aid packages.

Charest cites France’s recent announcement of $26 billion in industry assistance, quoting that country’s economy minister statement that “we aren’t in the business of being the village idiots of the planet who would sit back and allow the disappearance of … jobs and expertise.”

Charest also cites $50 billion in support from the U.S. government to their industry and $9.8 billion in support from Germany for their industry. He says that if Ottawa doesn’t take immediate action, the country risks losing its ranking in the global aerospace industry, along with coveted well-paying jobs and tax revenue that goes with it. “In fact, other nations are, as we speak, actively soliciting Canadian firms to shut down and move to their jurisdictions,” Charest states.

According to industry group Aéro Montréal, normally about 43,000 people work in aerospace in the Greater Montreal area, making it the world’s third-largest industry hub after Seattle, Washington and Toulouse, France.

The report Vision 2025: Beyond our Imagination is appended below.

Top photo: Jean Charest and AIAC CEO Jim Quick present Vision 2025 to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade in 2019. Photo credit: Steve Drinkwater