Most Decembers, we look forward to the holidays as an opportunity to look back on the year and enjoy the company of friends and family, but 2020 has been nothing like most years. For many of us, these holidays will be very different. It has been a difficult year for Canadians and for the Canadian economy. We’ve all have taken a hit, some of us harder than others. But, by in large, the Canadian automotive aftermarket has weathered the challenges of the past year better than many other sectors.
AIA Canada is proud to have played an early and decisive role in helping minimize the impact that COVID-19 measures had on our members and our industry. In the early days of the pandemic, just as governments were implementing lockdowns and closures, AIA Canada called for the aftermarket supply chain to be designated an essential service. Our lobbying efforts assisted with the aftermarket industry being declared essential across the country, opening the door for our members to keep their doors open.
As the year progressed, we continued to support our members with weekly updates and a dedicated COVID-19 information page on the AIA Canada website. We kept members in-the-know about federal and provincial programs to help businesses cope with the disruption. We also conducted three Aftermarket Business Conditions Surveys to help gauge the effect these programs and the pandemic itself had on the industry. Because of our leadership, we were invited to participate in a federal study by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on Canada’s response to COVID-19, as well as the Government of Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, which included findings from our Aftermarket Business Conditions Surveys.
As an association, we were faced with many of the same hard decisions and quick pivots our members were forced to make. Our head office in Ottawa was shut down in March and we began working from home – a situation that continues today. Thanks to the dedication of our staff, we were able to transition to a remote workplace arrangement with as few hiccups as possible. And while we had to cancel some of our signature events, such as Canada Night in Las Vegas, our team was able to transition others – including our Annual General Meeting in April and our Student Aftermarket Day in November – to an online format.
Despite the pandemic being the major story of 2020, it was far from the only one. Here are just a few of the other activities we carried out this year:
- We launched the Your Car. Your Data. Your Choice.™ campaign, aimed at engaging car owners, policymakers, and other stakeholders on issues related to car data, including what it is, why it matters, and its implications for consumer choice.
- We published an all new and improved Outlook Study 2020, prepared by Ernst & Young. We also hosted an informative webinar to help readers get the most from the study.
- We released three reports in our Consumer Behaviour Series: At Your Service: How Do Canadians Select Their Automotive Repair Shop?, Data Dilemma: Canadian Consumers Attitudes Towards In-Car Data, and Understanding Millennials: A Quick Profile of Young Canadian Vehicle Owners.
- We put out a comprehensive guide to the provincial and federal programs and financial supports available to apprentices and employers.
- CCIF successfully moved their September meeting planned for Vancouver to a virtual event, held in October.
- I-CAR activated all of their online courses and webinars, and reformatted many of their live courses to a webinar format, to ensure training could continue over the course of the pandemic – offering some upgrade courses free of charge.
- We distributed $17,500 in scholarships to students across the country through our AIA High Fives for Kids Foundation.
- We provided $24,000 to our provincial divisions to distribute to local food banks.
- Along with NASTF Executive Officer Donny Seyfer, we presented an informative webinar on securing better access to OE repair information for the aftermarket industry.
- We launched Curbside Chat, a webinar series hosted by AIA Canada Chairman Susan Hitchon. The series brought guests from across the aftermarket to share their knowledge and experience.
We all hope that 2021 will return to something resembling normal, but regardless of what the new year brings, AIA Canada will continue to fight for and support the Canadian aftermarket industry and members.
We want to give a huge thank you to our sponsors and to our board, our council and committee members, our communities of practice, and our division committees for their countless volunteer hours in support of our activities, nationally and regionally. Your continued dedication to AIA Canada has made an impact.
Stay safe and stay strong.
Have a joyous holiday and a happy new year!
AIA Canada Staff