What happened at yesterday’s protests in Canada

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Credit…Geoff Robins/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A blockade on the busiest road linking Canada to the United States is further hampering global supply chains, causing production stoppages and other hardship for automakers and other manufacturers with dwindling inventories.

Automakers, already suffering from a global shortage of the semiconductors needed to power their cars, are particularly hard hit by the partial closure of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit, Michigan, to Windsor, Ontario, and accounts for approximately a quarter of trade between the two countries.

Ford Motor Company said it closed two Canadian plants and cut production in another on Wednesday afternoon. Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda Motor Company would likely close some production lines later Wednesday due to border closures, said David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada, which represents the two companies.

Mr. Adams declined to specify which plants would be affected, but said Toyota and Honda together have six different facilities nearby that rely on shipments across the bridge. Thousands of trucks cross the bridge daily, transporting auto parts between major vehicle factories.

“It’s critical, certainly, for the auto industry,” Adams said.

Toyota and Honda both operate on just-in-time supply chains that deliver parts to factories as they are needed, giving them enough inventory to run for about two days without new deliveries before the production lines. don’t have to slow down, he said. Protests over Canada’s vaccination mandates began partially blocking traffic on the Ambassador Bridge on Monday evening.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Shane Wark, assistant to the national president of Unifor, which represents Canadian autoworkers, said border protests continued to disrupt work at auto plants represented by Unifor, leading to short-term layoffs at a Ford motor. in Windsor, a Ford assembly plant in Oakville, near Toronto, and the assembly plant of Stellantis in Windsor, the company that owns Fiat Chrysler.

“The situation is fluid and changing from hour to hour,” he said.

“These blockades create additional hardship for Unifor members and their families in the auto sector, after two years of extraordinary production and supply chain disruptions, and must end immediately,” said he added.

In a statement, Ford spokesman Said Deep said the disruption has hurt “customers, autoworkers, suppliers, communities and businesses on both sides of the border who are already experiencing two years of parts shortages resulting from the global semiconductor problem, Covid and more.”

“While we continue to ship our current inventory of engines to support our US factories, we are operating our factories on a reduced schedule today in Oakville, and our Windsor engine factory is down,” added Mr. Deep.

During a Wednesday briefing, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the blockade posed a risk to auto industry supply chains and that the administration was also monitoring potential disruptions to Michigan agricultural exports to Canada.

Biden administration officials were in close contact with customs officials, officials in Canada and Michigan, and industry stakeholders to expedite traffic and monitor the impact on supply chains, a- she declared.

“We are working to make sure there is movement,” Ms Psaki said.

“I think it’s important for everyone in Canada and the United States to understand what the impact of this lockdown is – potential impact – on workers, on the supply chain, and that’s where we we focus the most,” she added.

Companies have sought alternative crossing routes, such as the Blue Water Bridge, which connects Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, to transport their supplies. But a new blockade on a road leading to that bridge, along with a wave of hijacked cars and trucks, has also slowed traffic there.

Matt Blunt, chairman of the American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, said the protests have already resulted in a loss of production.

Blunt said his group encouraged the Biden administration to reach out to its Canadian counterparts. The Biden administration and customs seemed to be doing everything they could on the U.S. side to facilitate trade as much as possible, he said.

“At some point, if there’s no entry or exit from Canada, there’s not much you can do,” Blunt said. “Every day that this shutdown or slowdown persists, it’s going to impact U.S. and Canadian production.”

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