Montreal, September 13, 2004 Just a few weeks before the return to work of the House of Commons and the National Assembly, Mr. Henri Massé, president of the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL), and Mr. Benoit Labonté, president and chief executive officer of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, joined forces in calling for assured continuity of support programs for the aerospace industry, as well as tax policies that would ensure that the industry remain competitive internationally.
Quebec's aerospace industry faces extremely stiff international competition. A number of countries, especially Brazil, France, Ireland and the United States, give financial support to their aerospace sectors through tax policies, subsidies, as well as R&D incentives. In this respect, even though our industry has had generous strategic support from government over the past several decades, it is absolutely essential that government aid initiatives remain competitive at both the federal and provincial levels, so that this key sector remains regionally and internationally competitive. Without such aid, Canada and Quebec are in danger of jeopardizing one of their best-performing economic assets.
Today marks a turning point for the aeronautics industry for Montreal, Quebec and even for Canada. We can make advances in this niche that we have spent 30 years developing, a high-technology market that offers a great deal of added value; if not, we run the risk of falling behind. Decisions being taken right now will have very real consequences for a company such as Bombardier, for example, and therefore for the company's workforce, stated Henri Massé, president of the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL).
We must maintain optimal conditions for strong growth in the Canadian aerospace industry one of the engines of our economy because it allows Montreal, in particular, to be a major influence on the world scene as a centre for high technology, while generating annual revenues in excess of $20 billion for Canada, a large part of which comes from Quebec, and mainly from the greater Montreal region, added Mr. Benoit Labonté, president and chief executive officer of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
Given the importance of this business sector to the economies of Canada, Quebec and Montreal, it is important that the Canadian government quickly develops a Canadian aerospace policy to serve as a plan of action, both Massé and Labonté stressed.
Aerospace is an industry where we excel, but it's also a fragile business sector, especially since the events of September 11, 2001. We must do everything possible to ensure the continued growth of this strategic sector of our economy, one that is most directly affected by the realities of globalization, because it provides nearly 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in Quebec. These are high-quality jobs that, for the most part, earn above-average salaries. As a society, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of losing some of our jobs to Brazil or China, for example, added Massé, president of the QFL.
The aerospace sector in Greater Montreal not only provides tens of thousands of high-quality jobs, but it also creates wealth and actively contributes to the development of a learning economy, based on knowledge and penetration of international markets. Indeed, exceptionally close cooperation with our education and training institutions allows the industry to recruit new graduates with ease. In fact, in 2002, more than 7,500 new students in the greater Montreal area were trained in programs linked to the aerospace industry. This is another major positive spin-off from the aid given to the industry. One of our greatest challenges at present is to continue to provide sufficiently attractive conditions to retain all these talented people, Labonté added .
When speaking of the aerospace sector, we immediately think of large companies that constitute the flagships of our economy, but we must not forget all their suppliers of services some 150 of them within our urban region! The vast majority of these are small and medium-sized businesses, making our city one of the few places in the world where almost all parts of an airplane are manufactured or can be obtained within a radius of 30 kilometres, Mr. Labonté concluded.
We must not forget that the aerospace industry brings together the aeronautics and space industries, and the products manufactured by both have a great deal of added value. The industry employs some 40,000 workers in Quebec, 95% of whom work in the greater Montreal area. Our aerospace sector exports approximately 80% of its production, for a total annual value of nearly $11 billion. Indeed, Quebec accounts for nearly 80% of all Canadian exports of these products. In this respect, it is not surprising to learn that airplanes are Quebec's most important export.
The QFL, the largest group of affiliated trade unions in Quebec, represents more than half a million members.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of the Greater Montreal and to provide individuals, merchants, and businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec 's leading private economic development organization.
Quebec Federation of Labour
Tel.: (514) 235-3996
Coordonator, Media relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, ext. 4015