Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

May 9, 2019

Economy GDPFollowing 0.3% growth in January, gross domestic product contracted 0.1% in February as both goods-producing and services-producing industries declined. The 20 industrial sectors were nearly evenly split between gains and losses.

Construction continues to grow

Construction (+0.2%) increased for the second month in a row in February, following seven consecutive months of decline. Leading the growth was a 1.2% expansion in residential construction due to gains in single, semi-detached, row and apartment type-dwellings. Non-residential construction edged up 0.1% as growth in industrial construction more than offset declines in public and commercial construction. Repair construction declined 1.0% in February, following three months of growth, while engineering and other construction activities edged down 0.1%.

The mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sector declines for the sixth consecutive month

Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (-1.6%) was down for the sixth consecutive month, as all subsectors declined.

The largest impact on the sector’s decline in February came from a 4.4% decrease in mining and quarrying (except oil and gas), as nearly all types of mining were down due to lower international demand. Metal ore mining was down 4.8% with reduced output of most types of metals. Non-metallic mineral mining decreased 3.7% largely due to a 6.9% contraction in potash mining as exports to the United States declined. Coal mining was down 6.1%, the largest monthly decrease since November 2017.

Oil and gas extraction was down 0.6% in February, following a 2.6% decline in January. Oil and gas extraction (except oil sands) was down 1.1% as both natural gas and crude petroleum extraction fell. Following a 4.1% contraction in January, oil sands extraction edged down 0.1% in February as the Government of Alberta eased oil production cuts by 75,000 barrels a day on January 30. Support activities for mining, oil and gas extraction was down 0.6% in February as growth in support activities for oil and gas extraction was more than offset by a decline in support activities for mining. 

Transportation and warehousing contract as rail transportation drops

Transportation and warehousing was down 1.6% in February, the largest decline since June 2011, largely due to a 10.8% drop in rail transportation. There were widespread declines in rail movement of products, such as iron ore, potash and fuel oils and crude petroleum. Cold weather and heavy snowfalls across many parts of the country and a train derailment near Field, BC that closed an important rail line through the Canadian Rockies in the early part of the month all had adverse effects on rail transportation.

Transit, ground passenger, scenic and sightseeing transportation (-1.6%), support activities for transportation (-0.7%) and truck transportation (-0.5%) also contributed to the decline. Pipeline transportation (+1.1%) was up for the third consecutive month, as growth in pipeline transportation of natural gas more than offset a slight decrease in crude oil and other pipeline transportation.

Finance and insurance sector down 

The finance and insurance sector declined 0.6% in February, offsetting the previous two monthly increases. Decreased issuance of new securities and lower trading in the bond and money markets contributed to declines in financial investment services, funds and other financial vehicles (-2.2%) and depository credit intermediation and monetary authorities (-0.5%). Non-depository credit intermediation increased 0.2% in February, while activities related to credit intermediation declined 0.3%. Insurance carriers and related activities edged down 0.1%.

Manufacturing declines

Following January's growth (+2.1%), which was the largest in close to 15 years, the manufacturing sector contracted 0.4% in February as both durable and non-durable manufacturing declined.

Durable manufacturing contracted 0.4% in February, as 8 of the 10 subsectors declined. The largest contributions to the decline came from wood products (-4.2%), furniture and related products manufacturing (-6.3%) and primary metal (-2.7%). Gains were posted in machinery (+5.2%) and fabricated metal products (+3.1%) manufacturing.

Non-durable manufacturing was down 0.3% in February. The nine subsectors were relatively evenly split between gains and losses. Increases in plastic and rubber products (+4.6%) and petroleum and coal products (+3.2%) manufacturing were offset by declines in food (-2.3%) and chemical (-2.8%) manufacturing.

Utilities up due to record-setting cold weather in Western Canada

Utilities were up 1.5% in February, the fourth increase in five months. Record-setting cold temperatures in February in Western Canada, along with cooler temperatures in the rest of the country, contributed to higher demand for electric power generation, transmission and distribution (+1.6%), and natural gas distribution (+1.8%).

Other sectors

Real estate, rental and leasing declined 0.2%, the first decrease since February 2018. Activity at offices of real estate agents and brokers was down 6.6%, the fourth decline in five months, as there was lower housing resale activity in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Professional, scientific and technical services rose 0.4% in February with gains in most subsectors.

The public sector edged up 0.1%, with all three components (education, health care and public administration) rising.

Retail trade edged up 0.2%, partly offsetting the previous month's decline, as 5 of 12 subsectors grew. The largest gains were in general merchandise stores (+3.6%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+0.8%), while there were notable declines at clothing and clothing accessories stores (-1.7%) and building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.9%). 

Wholesale trade edged up 0.1% as five of the nine subsectors increased. Motor vehicles and parts wholesalers increased 8.6%, mainly on higher imports of motor vehicles. Building materials and supplies declined 4.5% on lower sales of lumber. Farm product wholesaling declined 8.8%, reflecting in part rail transportation issues in Western Canada.

Accommodation and food services edged down 0.1%, as an increase in accommodation services was more than offset by a decrease in food services and drinking places.
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting was essentially unchanged in February as the subsectors were relatively evenly split between gains and losses.

Source: Statistics Canada,



Carol McGloganBy Carol McGlogan

We are on the cusp of a major tidal wave hitting our industry; the onslaught of 10,000 new employees are set to replace the current base who are over 55 years of age and are on the horizon of retirement. This talent refresh brings on many opportunities for progress to address evolving customer needs, new product solutions and supply chain digitization. New skills and new ways of thinking will propel us forward. However, the challenge this talent pool will have is to understand the industry that they have settled in. This challenge is further magnified as the time required to absorb industry knowledge is compressed due to the accelerated exit of industry knowledge.

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Swati Vora-PatelBy Swati Vora-Patel

The Electrical industry is facing a runway of crossroads — and digital innovation intersects each one of the crossroads. Digital advancements in technology are transforming everything from product development and manufacturing to supply chain management and customer purchasing behaviours. While all of these changes have digitization at the core, there’s another factor that our industry needs to bring front and centre: People.




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Value of Building Permits - DecemberThe total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities increased 7.4% to $8.7 billion in December. Increases were reported in five provinces, led by Ontario (+10.5% to $3.4 billion) and Quebec (+15.8% to $2.2 billion). For 2019 overall, municipalities issued $102.4 billion worth of permits, up 2.6% compared with 2018.

Value of residential permits up

The total value of permits for multi-family dwellings was up 15.9% to $2.9 billion in December, mostly due to large projects in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Montreal and Vancouver.

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Changing Scene

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IDEA Connector LaunchOn January 31,2020, the new IDEA Connector will go live to over 6500 distributor locations with updates being fed daily by the IDW. Distributors will gain access to IDEA Connector’s Production Environment on February 14, 2020 to verify their migrated extracts and custom maps before they are fully cutover in a phased approach from the IDW to IDEA Connector beginning March 22, 2020.

The IDEA Team is working to ensure a smooth launch. If you are a distributor customer, you’ll receive communications on your cutover date and what you’ll need to do to prepare.

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SouthwireSouthwire has appointed Rahila Dhansi to the position of Manager, Human Resources. In her role, Rahila will be responsible for overseeing Southwire Canada’s HR plans in ways that support our mission and strategy.

Rahila holds a Bachelor’s degree in Employment and Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto and is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) under the Human Resources Association.



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Graybar TaylorGraybar Canada announced the retirement of Executive Vice President and General Manager, Brian Thomas, effective March 1, 2020. Upon his retirement, Jason Taylor will be appointed Executive Vice President and General Manager, assuming leadership of Graybar Canada.

Thomas started his career with Graybar Canada, and its predecessor Harris & Roome Supply, in 1987. Throughout his 39-year career in the electrical industry, Thomas held a variety of sales and senior management positions before being promoted to Executive Vice President and General Manager in 2016. 

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Peers & Profiles

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Sean Bernard is the Intelligent Controls Manager, Canada for Ideal Industries. Sean resides in ...
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Sean BernardBy Blake Marchand

Sean Bernard is the Intelligent Controls Manager, Canada for Ideal Industries. Sean resides in Whitby with his wife, Melissa and their daughter, Everleigh.

Sean joined Ideal Industries mid-2019 after 13-years in lighting, working for companies like Phillips, Franklin Empire, and Standard Products. Throughout that time, he made his way from inside sales, to outside sales and up into management.



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