Total employment at new- and used-vehicle dealerships in Ontario has grown faster than the national average since the 2008-2009 recession and stood at 54,310 in 2016, according to a report commissioned by The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association.
There were 49,069 people working at Ontario dealerships in 2007, but that number dropped four per cent to 46,876 in 2010. Since then, the annual rate of increase as been 2.5 per cent in Ontario, leading to the 54,310 employed in 2016, the latest year for which data was available.
Nationally, the annual rate of increase was slightly lower at 2.3 per cent. Canada saw 151,246 people employed at dealerships in 2016, up from 132,220 in 2010.
The entire body of auto dealer employment in Ontario made up 35.9 per cent of the total number of auto dealer jobs across Canada.
DesRosiers Automotive Consultants used Statistics Canada numbers to prepare the report at the dealers association’s request.
DEALERS CALLED RESILIENT
“These numbers by DesRosiers highlight the resiliency of Ontario’s auto retail sector. During the last recession, hardly anyone was betting on dealership employment recovering in three short years. But here we are, selling a record number of vehicles and employing the most people we ever have in Ontario’s history,” TADA Executive Director Todd Bourgon said in a statement.
New-vehicles are on pace to hit a record two million in 2017, up from the record 1.95 million the year before.
The association commissioned the report because “too often, when government speaks of the auto sector they focus on the manufacturing side of the business,” TADA Government Liaison Frank Notte said. “This report reinforces that thousands of families also depend on a vibrant dealership sector for their livelihood. Dealerships are a growing part of the auto sector, and governments should make dealership issues a priority to ensure this sector remains strong for years to come.”
Manufacturing employment in the automotive sector has not recovered to previous levels despite the growth of the rest of the automotive industry, the report found.
In 2008 there were a total of 113,806 jobs in automotive manufacturing, DesRosiers’ report said. As of 2016, employment in the sector had total of 106,834 jobs, which represented a 6.1 per cent decrease.
Notte said “manufacturing always grabs the headline, especially with NAFTA negotiations, and that’s understandable, but the retail sector is growing.”
LOTS OF LOBBYING
Dealers have several irons in fires, at multiple levels of government at the moment.
Provincially, TADA wants the Ontario Legislature to pass Bill 3, the Cutting Red Tape for Motor Vehicle Dealers Act. If passed, it would allow auto dealers to licence and register the vehicles they sell from their dealership, rather than physically transporting paperwork back and forth to a licensing office.
It’s also lobbying the Ontario Government to reduce the corporate income tax rate to 10 per cent, down from 11.5 per cent.
The association also wants Ontario to speed up the process of reimbursing dealers for incentives on green-car purchases.
Federally, the national body representing thousands of dealerships across Canada wants automakers to compensate dealers for recalled vehicles they can’t sell and must store on their lots.
A plan submitted to the Senate, if passed, would have required manufacturers to pay dealers one per cent a month of the value of vehicles they can't sell.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau quickly signalled his opposition to the plan, however, and on Sept. 19 told the House of Commons the provision is beyond the scope of safety legislation and could result in court challenges and enforcement issues.