Data: Who Needs it? WE DO!

March 1, 2017

It’s been an interesting three months since we became actively involved in the activities surrounding the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) proceedings in the USA. We have learned much, and have been able to lend a strong voice from the Canadian pallet industry perspective to support the argument against the expanded Scope of Inclusions sought by the U.S. Lumber Coalition. 

In part, the support for this argument is based on information provided by our Trade Advisory Committee which has worked tirelessly to ensure our collective voices are heard.  We are finding out that without data to support our industry position(s), arguments can be easily lost. I guess you could say that data is stronger than words.  

As our industry continues to grow and evolve, the need for lobbying efforts like the SLA endeavor will increase. Our friends south of the border, the NWPCA, have identified lobbying as one of their most important areas of focus now and in the future, and so too should it be for us. When looking at what is needed to provide powerful messages in lobbying, the recurring theme that comes out of discussions is data. Unfortunately, data is something that we lack as a Canadian industry. In helping strengthen the 
Canadian position in the SLA negotiations we have realized that we have had to look to external sources, such as StatsCan and Industry Canada for data about ourselves. This highlights the need to collect data from our own industry, from our members and clients.

What purpose would this data serve?

  • Giving us more credibility when sitting at the table with government and industry partners, whether through lobbying or on the various committees in which we represent you;
  • Quantifying our industry’s value in local, provincial, and national economies, with data on production volumes, employment, purchasing power, and sales revenue;
  • Using data as a strength based approach to refute inaccurate claims about our industry, as we’re doing with Nature’s Packaging;
  • Defending our industry against policies and regulations that can harm us while also promoting the industry in a positive light.

We have conducted numerous informal surveys in recent memory aimed at quantifying the predominant materials used in our industry, identifying the ISPM-15 related stamping practices in the pallet recycling world, and the amount of dunnage produced by Canadian facilities just to name a few.  All of the information gathered has been used to support stances taken when initiating actions or opposing changes to government programs that impact our industry. These informal surveys however are not enough and as we increase our exposure to the policymakers, we will be looked on to be able to provide more information and details about the industry we represent.

As we move into 2017, it is evident that the CWPCA needs to increase the amount of easily accessible information that we have on hand, and we need to do so proactively. Last year we conducted our first ever Wage and Benefit Survey and we were encouraged by the level of participation as well as the information it provided. Since completing the report, we, as well as some of our members have been able to draw from the data found there to use for our benefit.  

We have begun work on another survey that is aimed at gathering some very basic but important information concerning the demographics and production of the wood packaging industry in Canada.  We will send this out shortly and ask (maybe even willing to beg a little bit) for you to take the time to complete the survey. The survey methodology we are employing ensures complete anonymity, meaning even we cannot see who responded, and the data will be aggregated to provide averages as opposed to individual statistics. Once collected, this information will be formatted and a report like the Wage and Benefit Survey will be created for you, our members. As mentioned above, this data will also be used in strengthening our position in advocacy and lobbying efforts.

Please watch for more information concerning this and other pending efforts to arm ourselves with more data. We ask for your support in helping us to help you.


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