Editor’s Log: AIA’s Champagne toast

Toronto, Ontario — This week, AIA Canada has proven its value to the auto aftermarket–in spectacular style.

AIA president J.F. Champagne should be commended for his work securing British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario auto repair facilities as essential services that may remain open during the coronavirus crisis. Not only will the move make it easier for the average Ontarian to self-isolate, but it will allow business owners to make the decision most sensible for their teams and their businesses.

“As tougher regulations come into play to slow the spread of coronavirus, it would be a mistake to shut down businesses that keep emergency vehicles and essential transportation moving. Nurses, doctors, and first responders must be able to get around. Critical goods, medicines, and food need to be transported. Essential vehicles will need to be repaired and maintained through this crisis,” Champagne said.

To some degree, the decision seemed an obvious one for the provinces to make. After all, its plan to flatten the growth curve of the Coronavirus in Ontario relies upon people self-isolating, venturing outside only for supplies. For most individuals, limiting shopping trips as much as possible requires the use of vehicles. Without the comfort of knowing vehicles will remain operational through the crisis, it is difficult to imagine Canadians would be embracing self-isolation.

That is not to say that collision repairers are being forced to work. As Champagne points out, the decision to remain in operation should be made after only the most serious consideration.

“We encourage the aftermarket industry to use caution while continuing to provide critical services to the population during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Despite how obvious that may sound, however, this magazine has it on good authority that, in at least one Province, the decision to accept auto repairers as essential services able to remain open was almost reversed, and would have been but for the AIA of Canada.

We live in a skeptical age. It is easy to question the purpose of broad-spectrum industry associations in the modern-day–until a crisis.

Among collision repairers, the Automotive Industry Association of Canada, which represents the entire automotive aftermarket supply and service chain on the national level, may not sound like an organization to rely on. Its board does, after all, include executives from buying groups, banners, and consumer parts-sellers. It is difficult to imagine scenarios where the needs of all of those groups would be in absolute alignment with individual shops.

This situation, however, shows the true value of these broad-spectrum groups. They can provide guidance on matters on which the entire automotive aftermarket is in agreement.

Every once in awhile, it is.


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