Canada must confront complacency

It boasts world-leading companies, but Canada’s aerospace industry – one of the world’s biggest – is in danger of lagging in an increasingly globally competitive market. Blessed with a long heritage of aerospace manufacturing, top technical schools, its own OEMs and privileged access to the largest military marketplace, Canada’s industry has had every chance to thrive.

However, proximity to the end-customer has bred complacency. As airframers, including Canada’s Bombardier, have switched from local build-to-print contractors to scouring the planet for risk-sharing, system integrators with their own supply chains, some of the country’s smaller firms have been slow to react.

US defence cuts have also impacted Canadian industry, which has competed on near-equal terms with firms south of the border for access to programmes.

The nation must act on its shortcomings: tier ones investing in design engineering capabilities and marketing themselves on the global stage; “mom and pops” consolidating, identifying what they are best at and collaborating to increase their value up the supply chain.

The challenge is considerable. Emerging industries, from Mexico to Poland and South Korea to Brazil, are becoming more competitive every year. But with supply-chain initiatives at federal level as well as in Ontario and Quebec, Canada at least acknowledges it has a problem and is doing something about it.

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