Ottawa ON, October 28, 2009 - Following approximately 90 minutes of witness presentations, questions and answers during the hearing in front of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Science and Technology this afternoon, MP Brian Masse tabled a motion that his private member's bill C-273 ("Right to repair") is sent back to the House of Commons with a recommendation that it proceed no further. Masse and his colleagues on the committee were satisfied with the presentations by witnesses from the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA), the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA), the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (CVMA) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC) and by the answers to questions put to those association representatives. It was agreed by all parties that legislation is no longer necessary due to the signing of the "CASIS" voluntary agreement and that the agreement should be given a chance to prove itself. The Motion was carried.

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AIA No Longer Supports Legislated Right to Repair

As we informed you recently, on September 29, 2009, an agreement for access to technical information, tools and training was signed by the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (CVMA), the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC) and the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA). The agreement is called the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS ).

At a meeting of the AIA Board of Directors yesterday, a decision was taken to put the full weight of AIA's support behind the CASIS agreement. This decision is largely based on the decision by CVMA, AIAMC and NATA last Thursday, to issue an interpretation guideline ( ) to the agreement clarifying access to flash download information.

As a result of the clarification AIA is confident that resolution of the key concern for AIA members has been achieved, and therefore AIA has formally requested to become a signatory of the CASIS Agreement. By signing the agreement, AIA has come to the conclusion that support of a legislated option such as Bill C-273 to remedy the access to information issue is no longer necessary.

The end goal for the Association has always been to ensure access to the tools, training and key information required to allow the service community to fix vehicles. AIA has always held the opinion that open dialogue within the industry is a more productive path to solving industry issue and we expect that the CASIS agreement will provide the structure to facilitate ongoing discussions with all stakeholders.

This is positive step forward for our industry. On behalf of its members, AIA looks forward to a more collaborative and productive relationship with vehicle manufacturers in Canada and healthier business arrangements for aftermarket service providers.

If you have any questions, please contact Scott Smith or Marc Brazeau at 1-800-808-2920.

A French version of this advisory will follow.

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New Support Promised for Apprentices

October 15, 2008

Prime Minister Steven Harper has promised that once elected, a Conservative government will provide a $2,000 completion bonus to apprentices who finish an apprenticeship program in a Red Seal or nationally recognized trade. Collision damage and autobody repairer technician is one such trade. On October 3, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister said he wanted to provide an added incentive for Canadians to finish their training and launch rewarding careers in the trades. In a news release, Prime Minister Harper said, "In the next two decades, 40 percent of new jobs will be in the skilled trades and technologies according to In 1998, that number was less than 20 per cent. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the country could be a short one million workers by 2020. There were 13,606 Red Seals issued in 2006 to fully trained apprentices, almost 1,000 more than in 2005, but many people who enroll in apprenticeship programs leave before they complete their training. During 2005, nearly 294,000 Canadians were enrolled in apprenticeship programs, but just over 20,500 Canadians completed apprenticeships that year." Other measures taken by government include: -Introduction of the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year (to maximum of $2,000 per person) to help apprentices pay for the first two years of their education and training-The new Tradesperson's Tools Deduction that gives workers an annual tax deduction of up to $500 for expenditures in excess of $1,000 for tools required as a condition of employment-Raising the limit on the cost of tools eligible for the 100 per cent capital cost allowance from $200 to $500-The new Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit that provides employers who hire and train new apprentices a tax credit of up to $2,000 per year for each eligible apprentice"This $2,000 promised incentive will further encourage collision repair technician apprentices across Canada to stay and finish their apprenticeships, while providing their employers with more skilled workers to repair today's complex vehicles," said John Norris, Collision Chair of the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA)

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NATA's Approach to the Right to Repair Issue:


The service information and tool access problem is not a new one. The National Automotive Trades Association (NATA) has clarified its position on the so-called Right to Repair (R2R) issue many times over, both in print and at various meetings and forums. A national umbrella organization that counts AARO and 13 other "grassroots associations" among its members, NATA has even dedicated several pages of its Web site to the subject. But according to AARO president Rudy Graf, people still ask where we stand on the matter. "R2R has become a hot topic. Jobber salesmen, other shop owners and even the odd customer have been engaging me in conversation about it," said Graf. "When someone asks me to explain our association's position, I tell them it's a complex subject and suggest they visit the NATA Web site. The problem is, it's anyone's guess as to how many of them might actually follow through, and do that," he conceded. AARO initially sounded the alarm about the service information and tools access problem way back in October of 2001. Ref. AARO TO FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENTS' RIGHT TO OE DATA "It's unfortunate that for the better part of three years our repeated warnings about the blockage of technical data fell on deaf ears," comments AARO executive director Bill Burkimsher. "We felt the supplier sector of the industry should share our concern, but their representatives kept insisting there was no problem. That was extremely frustrating and explains why we rejuvenated NATA. By working together with Canada's other grassroots associations we were able to organize the VISTA (Vehicle Information and Service Tool Agreement) initiative," he said. For his part, Graf feels that by now most people in the automotive service industry should be aware of VISTA, but the questions about what AARO and NATA are doing persist. "I'd been pondering about what could be done to improve the level of awareness out there, when a situation that developed gave me an idea," said Graf.

"Denis Poirier, one of our board members, had arranged a meeting with his local Ottawa MP, David McGuinty. He e-mailed our office asking for a brief outline of NATA's approach to the service info problem, something that he could give to McGuinty when he met with him. Rene Young, (photo) NATA's lead guy on the R2R issue, graciously provided Denis with a point form VISTA information sheet. Bill Burkimsher sent a copy of it to the rest of us, and we thought it was just excellent," enthused Graf. "It's brief and to the point, and 'just what the doctor ordered' to explain our position on R2R."

"That's when the idea struck me," said Graf. "I've recommended that Bill post a copy that's downloadable and printable on our Web site; that way our members can access it and provide the answers whenever someone asks them about our position on R2R." Editor's Note: Sounds like a plan, Rudy. Here follows Rene Young's point form VISTA summary, including a link to download and print it.

ON 'RIGHT TO REPAIR' Brief Summary:

  • NATA (National Automotive Trades Association, since 1947) represents some 5,000 independent auto repair businesses across Canada. NATA seeks a voluntary agreement with Canadian auto manufacturers on technical information access, similar to that which is in place in the United States - National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF). Our approach differs from the "Right to repair" campaign, which seeks a legislated solution to the issue. The term "Right to repair" has acquired a negative connotation among Canadian auto manufacturers, so in order to differentiate our campaign we chose to call it VISTA (Vehicle Information & Service Tool Agreement). We have asked the federal government to assist us in getting the auto manufacturers to the negotiating table. The Canadian consumer's freedom of choice must be protected. Existing competition laws were designed to protect that choice. Federal and provincial safety and emissions regulations depend on the industry's ability to maintain the fleet. The OEM dealer network does not have the capacity to service the entire fleet. Many Canadians, particularly in rural areas are located long distances from the nearest dealership. Vehicle technology is now so computerized that few repairs and services can be performed without the proper tools and information. This affects most segments of the industry, from mechanical repair to collision repair, locksmiths, auto glass, tire shops, towing, etc
  • NATA suggests that Canadian auto manufacturers look upon the independent automotive service industry as partners in customer satisfaction, because the consumer's overall satisfaction with vehicle ownership is greatly affected by the ability to obtain quality repairs and service economically and conveniently, whether at the dealership or the neighbourhood garage.
Click Here for a copy of the above document that you can print

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Morning Radio Show Sparks NATA Response


In spite of a noticeable "left-of-center" partiality, the CBC is our national broadcaster and we try to support them. One need not look beyond the mainstream news feeds on our Web site's home page to corroborate this. On occasion, however, it is necessary to call them to task. The November 24th edition of a CBC morning radio show called "The House" was one such instance. Can we expect the CBC - or any other newscaster for that matter - to get things right every time, all of the time? Of course not. In the news media world, accuracy can often be an elusive target. This is especially true when people who are perceived to be experts on a specific topic are interviewed, and it turns out they're less knowledgeable about it than had been foreseen. Such was the case on November 24th. The so-called "Right to Repair" issue was one of the topics on The House that Saturday morning, and Rene Young happened to be listening. Rene is the coordinator of the "Vehicle Information and Service Tool Agreement" (VISTA) program, an initiative of the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA) to resolve the service information access problem. Worried that some of the assertions made by the program's guests could lead consumers into making false assumptions about the issue, he felt some damage control was in order. Following the broadcast, Young used the CBC's Internet feedback system to inform them of his concerns.

A transcript of Rene Young's input follows: I am the Mechanical Repair Division Chair for the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA), a chartered Canadian non-profit association since 1947, representing some 5,000 independent repair businesses across the country. I would like to comment on the "Right to Repair" segment of your November 24th broadcast. First of all, after listening to the program one would be left with the impression that the term, "Right to Repair" means that independent auto repair shops feel they have the right to repair their customers' vehicles. While it may be true that repair shops feel that way, the term was actually coined in reference to the consumer's right to choose where they have their vehicles serviced. That freedom of choice is threatened when only the dealerships are able to perform certain repairs and services. Independent repair shops also become unwitting casualties as a result. There were several references to some "auto dealers" making repair information available while others do not. This has nothing to do with auto dealers. The information and the decision whether or not to make it available to the aftermarket lies solely with the auto manufacturers. The only interest auto dealers or their associations have in this issue concerns the speculation around losing customers to the independent shops. Depending on who you ask, you will get varying figures on how the total amount of automotive service business in Canada is divided between dealerships and the independent shops. All surveys indicate that dealerships have made gains in this respect in recent years. The voluntary agreement in the United States that was mentioned refers to technical information Web sites with which 26 US auto manufacturers provide diagnostic and repair information to anyone who wishes to pay for it. In the case of 12 of those 26, subscriptions can only be purchased by US residents. There is no Canadian equivalent to these web sites - yet. This is what sparked the Right to Repair movement in Canada. Perhaps it was just a slip of the tongue, but in the introduction of Hugh Williams of the Canadian Auto Dealers Association it was suggested that he speaks for the "Automotive Industry." The Automotive Industry is everyone working in any business automotive related. This includes automobile manufacturers, their assembly plants, franchised dealerships, independent repair shops and anyone else who provides products and services related to the automobile. CADA only represents franchised new car dealers. Mr. Williams hinted that his members would prefer a voluntary agreement to legislation. This is what our association has been saying all along. The fact is the manufacturers won't talk to us. They tell us to speak to their associations, and their associations tell us that they have no authority in the matter, as the decisions lie with the individual companies. We can only reach a voluntary agreement if all parties start talking, and this has been our goal. I've heard a few variations of the Tim Horton's coffee analogy, but none of them are valid. There are several supermarket chains that actually do sell Tim Horton's coffee. The independent repair shops are not asking for the right to sell the OEMs' products. They just want access to the information required to service them whenever the vehicle owners choose us for those needs. The OEMs fear that their proprietary engineering data will be subject to disclosure to knock-off parts manufacturers if legislation is passed. No wonder, considering that the organizations leading the push for legislation are largely made up of and funded by aftermarket parts manufacturers and distributors. NATA represents the grass roots repair shops. We have no use for parts design and engineering data. We just want to be able to fix cars. We believe the OEMs should look upon us as partners in customer satisfaction. A consumer's ownership experience is affected by their ability to obtain repairs and service economically and conveniently. They won't buy the same make next time if their choices for service were restricted. The public is generally unaware of this issue at this time. As highly computerized vehicles age, this will change. We are suggesting the OEMs be proactive rather than reactive. If they wish to avoid legislation and negotiate a voluntary agreement, they should start talking to us - now. Yours truly,

Rene Young,
Mechanical Repair Division Chair,
National Automotive Trades Association

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Growth in the Grassroots:
NATA Welcomes Auto Recyclers

The National Automotive Trades Association (NATA) is the umbrella organization for AARO and six other regional and provincial "grassroots associations". In their respective jurisdictions across Canada, these NATA-affiliated associations are the longest standing and the largest advocacy groups representing automotive service providers. And the family is growing. AARO operations manager Diane Freeman explains:

"We were very pleased to announce at our recent general assembly that the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and its seven affiliated associations located throughout the country have become NATA affiliates. The recycling sector is an important part of the industry, and we wanted to be among the first to welcome these associations into our NATA family," said Freeman.

According to secretary-treasurer Bill Burkimsher, the philosophy, strategy and modus operandi at NATA is for its constituents to work together cooperatively without compromising one another's autonomy. "The automotive service industry is huge, and we're whole-heartedly in agreement there needs to be good communication and a healthy exchange of information between its various sectors. Notwithstanding this, we're mindful that one sector has no business pretending to speak for another," said Burkimsher. "Whenever one sees something beneath NATA letterhead, they can rest assured it represents a consensus of opinion reached by our affiliates." Convinced that much can be learned from each other, Burkimsher and Freeman recently met with Steve Fletcher and drew up plans for ARC and AARO to circulate one another's magazines to their respective members: "We decided this would be a good way to kick-start communication between the auto recycling and mechanical repair sectors," Freeman observed. Freeman added that to ensure all AARO members would be made aware of the good news concerning the recyclers, she asked that ARC's media release about them joining NATA be posted on our association's Web site, and later placed in our newsletter, Bay Watch.

"What Diane wants, Diane gets," said our editor - the media release issued by ARC follows:

Auto Recyclers of Canada Join National Automotive Trades Association

The Auto Recyclers of Canada (ARC) has joined the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA). "We have looked at what NATA is trying to achieve and who they represent, and felt it was important to offer our support," states ARC Managing Director Steve Fletcher. "Our Members sell recycled OEM auto parts, and NATA represents the largest group of installers of those parts. We want to understand their needs and requirements, and make sure our parts are part of the solution." "The recyclers are an integral part of the automotive repair industry. We welcome them to NATA and look forward to their input and participation. " said Dale Finch, Executive Vice President of NATA. NATA is a 59-year-old federally chartered 'association of associations' brought together to present a unified voice for the Canadian automotive trades industry. NATA Affiliated members consist of: Automotive Retailers Association of British Columbia (ARA), Automotive Service and Repair Association of Alberta (ASRA), Saskatchewan Association of Automotive Repairers (SAAR) Automotive Trades Association of Manitoba (ATA), Hamilton district Autobody Repair Association (HARA), Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO), and Collision Repair Association of Nova Scotia (CRANS). ARC is the national voice of the automotive recycling industry and acts as an umbrella association for the following ARC Member associations: Automotive Recyclers Association of Atlantic Canada (ARAAC), Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association (AARDA), Automotive Recyclers of Manitoba (ARM), Association des Recycleurs de Pi├Ęces d'Autos et de Camions (ARPAC), British Columbia Automotive Recyclers (B-CAR), Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), and Saskatchewan Government Insurance Salvage (SGI Salvage).

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