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Auto Industry Auto Parts COVID-19 Economy

Auto parts factories retool to make medical equipment, while worry grows over sector’s future

Nick Purdon & Leonardo Palleja, CBC News
May 3, 2020


Flavio Volpe is the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association — he represents 300 companies. He says the only way Canadians were ever going to get all the PPE needed to fight COVID-19 was if the auto sector was able to convert some of their factories to do it.

“It’s like in World War Two when we were making planes and boats and guns,” Volpe says.

“Just like in a war, during a pandemic the people who are on the front lines need things to get between them and the enemy.”

Since the pandemic started, Volpe has been working as a middleman between auto parts companies and different levels of government trying to get everyone the information they need.

In recent weeks his stress and anxiety has grown, and he says sleep can be a problem.

“I get messages and emails from front-line workers who are in tears,” Volpe says. “They read the news and they say ‘we’re there to serve, and we’re going to show up to work, but we’re in danger — can you help?’ And I say we’re trying our best. How can you sleep when you get that?”

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