When the COVID-19 crisis hit Canada, everyone from school teachers to construction workers found themselves suddenly thrust into a new world of uncertainty. For the woodworking industry in Canada, there was a sudden adaptation of shifting one’s daily work routine to fit new health guidelines issued by government officials.
For many AWMAC members and those in the woodworking industry, this meant having employees work from home and hold meetings virtually
via popular online applications such as ZOOM meetings. As our industry is mainly hands-on, this also meant limiting
the number of workers who could be on-site to complete projects, which, as time went on, slowed down dramatically due to the causal effect of all industries worldwide coming
to a near standstill due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
With many provincial governments slowly re-opening their economies, AWMAC remains cautiously optimistic that we will soon again be able to more or less return to some kind of normal. However, we do understand that the challenges COVID-19 has brought to our nation have forever altered our landscape.
Despite the trials that the COVID-19 crisis has brought, AWMAC carried through to ensure that our membership was informed about what health measures needed to be heeded, as well as what we were doing to carry on through this challenging time.
We are proud of the fact that all eight of our regional chapters continued to operate and support their members during the crisis. Indeed, it was during these trying times that we launched a new AWMAC website, which is a vast improvement over our old site in terms of usability, performance, viewability, and speed.
We also focussed on our social media channels, those being our Twitter page, (you can follow us at @AWMACnational,) and our Facebook and Instagram pages. We also have a LinkedIn page as well. Please be sure to give us a follow and like.
As part of our efforts to support our members, AWMAC sent out a COVID-19 survey in early April to all members across Canada which asked many questions about how
the coronavirus affected
48.72 per cent responded that their business location was open, with 28.21 per cent saying their business was open, but by appointment only.
17.95 per cent of respondents said their businesses were temporarily closed except for essential personnel, with all others working from home.
5.13 per cent of businesses said their location was temporarily closed, with all personnel working from home.
There were no locations that reported that they were closed with no personnel working.
Of the questions we asked, one was how the COVID-19 crisis impacted our members.
There was a consensus that there was a significant slowdown in work projects, with contracts down overall. Some respondents noted that although open, they had to suspend projects as well as temporarily lay off some staff. Many staff were/are working from home and some employees chose not to work out of concern for their health or due to the closure of schools.
Most respondents said that government financial assistance was welcome at both the provincial and federal levels to support lost wages for employees and help offset lost revenue.
When asked what resources they needed to support the safety, health, and well-being of their staff in the workplace, most respondents said that they required extra respirators, gloves, and other safety equipment and cleaning supplies so that a safe work environment could be maintained.
Despite all the challenges the industry faces, AWMAC has remained resilient in ensuring that communications and operations have been consistent during COVID-19. On the administrative side of things, we have embraced the use of virtual meetings to effectively hold dialogue and come together to share important regional updates on the industry’s performance and AWMAC’s operations.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our 2020 AWMAC National Convention scheduled for June 2020. Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) was to be incorporated into this event, and subsequently, we planned to hold the AGM virtually on the same date. However, our bylaws do not permit us to hold an AGM by electronic means currently. To address this issue, we have applied to Corporations Canada for an extension to hold the AGM later.
Although, we are not all able to come together in person, we are looking very much forward to seeing everyone next year for the 2021 AWMAC National Convention in Toronto, Ontario.
We wish you success during this re-opening phase, and trust that you will all remain safe and hopeful during these challenging times.