Quebec Automotive Aftermarket Professionals Present Their Demands in the Context of the Election Campaign
Montréal, August 31, 2022 – In preparation for the October 3 election, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) Quebec Division, which represents, in Quebec, more than 6,500 repair shops, body shops, auto parts retailers, and the head offices of many banners well known to Quebecers, is proud to make public its main demands to the political parties.
Unlike other Canadian provinces, Quebec does not manufacture vehicles but rather specializes in the aftermarket sector, which covers maintenance and repair, as well as the distribution and sale of parts. Supporting this sector, in addition to helping the 90,900 workers who make up the industry, is a way to contribute to the local economy. Despite its vitality and dynamism, the automobile aftermarket will have to overcome many challenges in order to ensure that Quebec’s fleet of over 6 million vehicles remains well-maintained and safe. The ability of Quebec to adapt to the massive arrival of electric vehicles on its roads is also at stake.
Giving vehicle owners the right to choose
In the age of intelligent vehicles, many are now equipped with telematics systems that allow automakers to collect information on the condition of the vehicle and its movements. They are like computers on wheels. They are literally web-connected vehicles that collect thousands of data points on a vehicle’s systems. This data is then transmitted, wirelessly, to car manufacturers, allowing them to control access to it, including which auto repair shops can get it and under what conditions. Without access to this data, independent auto repair shops cannot fix a vehicle.
The result? Consumers have to pay more for services because they have no choice but to go to shops with exclusive service rights. These are sometimes located dozens of kilometers away from the consumer’s home, or even hundreds of kilometers away in more remote areas. “We’re not just talking about engines, transmissions, or other “big ticket items” here, but also the installation of tires, windshields, windshield wipers, etc.,” says Élisabeth Lambert, president of the AIA Canada Quebec Division and Vice-president of Joliette Auto Parts.
A legislative change is therefore essential so that the Office de la protection du consommateur can guarantee users of these vehicles free and complete access to the data generated while driving, as well as the possibility of sharing this access with the repair and maintenance service of their choice. And Quebecers agree. In an Abacus Data survey on the issue, over 90% of Quebecers said they were in favor of such a change. This is the highest rate in the country.
Adapting Quebec to the massive arrival of electric vehicles
For the shift to electric vehicles to accelerate, repairs must be easily and quickly accessible at a reasonable cost, here in Quebec. However, at the moment, the new data technologies integrated into electric vehicles make their maintenance laborious and, above all, expensive. This situation, the exact opposite of what Quebecers want, is likely to be a major deterrent to the purchase of an electric vehicle for many of them.
The AIA Canada Quebec Division is therefore asking that the fight against programmed obsolescence be extended to electric vehicle components and systems. Patrick Saint-Pierre, of the Monaco group and member of the executive of the AIA Canada Quebec Division, insists: “Electric vehicles already require more sustained maintenance and many owners, faced with complications and very high costs, are disappointed. In addition, they sometimes have to send their vehicle more than 500 kilometers away for a simple repair. The time to act is now”.
Supporting Workforce Training
Like many sectors, our industry is being hit hard by a significant labour shortage, which could force the closure of shops and retailers. Already, businesses are being forced to reduce their hours of operation and scale back, or even abandon, their expansion plans. “Every day, we hear from colleagues who are losing income and who are forced to delay making appointments because of a lack of employees. Yet winter tire installation or brake replacement, for example, cannot afford to wait. The potential consequences are too serious,” adds Élisabeth Lambert.
In this regard, the AIA Canada Quebec Division is calling for active support in the development of the automotive maintenance and repair trades, as well as improved access to skilled and unskilled foreign workers. In addition, increased government investment in the training of electric vehicle workers, for example through the EV Skills program, is essential to promote greater access to services in the regions, as well as to encourage electric vehicle owners to opt for safety and therefore perform more regular maintenance on their vehicles.
The next elections will be decisive for the development of Quebec and its regions. The tangible proposals put forward today will allow the automotive aftermarket to continue to fully assume its role of maintaining safety, creating good jobs in Quebec, and making the repair of all types of vehicles on Quebec roads more accessible. During the campaign, the AIA Canada Quebec Division intends to send its demands to the main political parties and submit a commitment questionnaire to them, in addition to intervening in current events related to the issues of our industry, to give Quebec vehicle owners the straight goods.
The secondary automotive industry in Quebec is:
- 4.5 billion dollars annually;
- 90,900 employees;
- Many head offices of well-known banners such as Uni-Select, Fix Auto, NAPA, Groupe Del Vasto (Vast Auto), Groupe Monaco (Entrepôt de Montréal), and Spectra Premium;
- 987 parts and accessories retailers;
- 5,641 automotive repair shops and other specialties;
- Local services in every city and in every riding in Quebec.
About the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada)
We represent, support, and lead innovation in Canada’s $32.2-billion auto care sector. With more than 4,000 members across the country, our vision, education, training programs, and advocacy supports Canada’s collision and mechanical sectors. Our best practices for the auto care industry help our members keep Canada’s fleet of almost 29.8-million vehicles on the road.
Whether you’ve been in a collision or require maintenance, our members help vehicles last longer, pollute less and keep drivers safer by offering Canadians any product or service a vehicle may need after it rolls off the dealership’s lot.
For comments or interviews, please contact Communications at:
180 Elgin Street, Suite 1400 Ottawa, ON K2P 2K3
1-800-808-2920, ext. 2285
Ms. Élisabeth Lambert, President of the AIA Canada Quebec Division, and Mr. Patrick Saint-Pierre, member of the Executive Committee, will be available for interviews.