April 16, 2021
An Open Letter to the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
On March 16, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to close the doors to the Stanfield’s factory. We weren’t alone: businesses across Canada and around the world were forced to shutter. It was the right thing to do to protect the health and safety of our community.
Less than two weeks later after working days and nights to recalibrate our business in a global pandemic, we had acquired fabric and equipment to begin the production of PPE in response to the country’s desperate need of supply. We signed contracts to produce 3.3M gowns and quickly began the process of training, hiring and transforming our business to have gown production become part of our iconic company. In the process, we were able to hire an additional 300+ people from the local community in addition to our workforce prior to the pandemic, who worked around the clock to fulfill these orders. We make the choice to pay a premium and our employees are worth it. Paying less is not helpful in the context of a global pandemic.
The ability to continue to employ our great team was light in a very dark time.
As Canada’s oldest apparel manufacturer, we are part of the fabric of Nova Scotia – standing the test of time, adapting and innovating to rise to a new challenge. Across the landscape of buzzing factories, tireless workers, punch clocks and the boxing of finished product, Stanfield’s claims its place as a community-centric company with people, jobs and rural resilience at its core.
The COVID crisis continues to evolve and the impact it is having on small and medium sized businesses who are the engines of our economy, is devastating.
As we think about rebuilding the economy and, most importantly, getting Canadians back to work, we need to prioritize the survival of small to medium-sized businesses that make our towns our towns and our cities our cities. And we should be thinking about how we are supporting these small engines of our rural economy. Stanfield’s is a flagship example of this; a multi-generational company, in operation since 1856 in a rural community of 12,000. It’s a Nova Scotia success story with employment ranging from 250-500 jobs at any given time and a history that is older than the country itself.
Stanfield’s operates in a community that’s seen a lot of devastation in the past year.
Our people, our business and our community were celebrated by the federal government in April 2020 for our remarkable transformation. We were commended for the agile response of a longstanding and traditionally run business stepping up and rising to the challenge of serving our nation at a time when we were needed the most.
Tenders are tenders, they will be won and lost. Government is a business that requires the right partners, and they need to invest in communities and people.
Minister Freeland, as we look forward to the budget ahead, I share with you the values of small and medium sized businesses across Canada. Yes, we’ve been acknowledged but without demand for the supply we have reconfigured our business to deliver, our community has been disrupted. Jobs lost. This reverberates well beyond the town limits but impacts people, great people, across our province. We need to make sure the Federal Government recognizes this impact. This is not just about contracts and dollars and cents. It is about a way of life, a mantra, and an ethos for business and rural revitalization.
We are ready and willing to be part of the solution. We have proven we can do the job, and we are ready to do so again.
Chairman, President & CEO, Stanfield’s Limited