In early March, executives from Canadian auto supplier Martinrea International said what many in the industry have probably been thinking for a while now: It’s “time to move on” from the restrictive, economy-killing COVID-19 lockdowns.
Martinrea CEO Fred Di Tosto made the statement on the company’s earnings call.
“We’re seeing tremendous opening in the United States, in a lot of different places ... it’s time to move on. There are good things happening, and we’ve got to recognize that.”
He’s right. And it’s probably why 12 other companies, including Magna International, Air Canada and Rogers Communications Inc., are part of a pilot project that sees them using rapid COVID-19 tests on employees in an effort to reopen workplaces.
Businesses have had enough. And who can blame them? Ontario, the country’s biggest retail market and home to all auto assembly and the vast majority of suppliers, has been locked down twice and remains under the threat of a third.
I’ve asked epidemiologists and health units for statistics that show how many cases are transmitted in a retail setting, and none has given me an answer. Some have flat-out ignored me.
Meanwhile, Martinrea Executive Chairman Rob Wildeboer said on the same call there has been no transmission of COVID-19 within the company’s plants.
On my March 26 “Canada Conversations” podcast at canada.autonews.com, Jon Azzopardi, head of the Canadian Association of Mold Makers, told me cases in manufacturing account for a minuscule amount of the total number of positives in Ontario. And yet the border remains closed to the vast majority of those he represents. Azzopardi told me the border closure is “destroying” the mold-making industry.