Thank you for having us here today.
We are a manufacturer. We manufacture products. Canada has been a great place in which to be located. We have many things to be thankful for.
I have samples here of Teck cable, if you want to know what it is. We can pass these around, if you like. Teck cable is an innovative Canadian-designed power cable used in mining and hazardous location practices. In the early 1930s, the Teck-Hughes gold mine in Kirkland Lake decided to use an alternative cable to the unprotected, flexible, portable power cables that were the standard at the time. The popularity of this new Teck cable, driven by Canadian industry, quickly spread to pulp and paper and other heavy industries that benefited from these features.
In 1965 CSA formally recognized and developed a national standard around this new cable. Small and medium enterprises, including Northern Cables, manufacture and sell this product in Canada. Occasionally, we even get the chance to export outside of Canada for job-specific applications where someone with Canadian expertise specifies this cable for use.
In recent years other countries, including China and the United States, have started manufacturing these cables and other similar armoured cable designs, which they export for sale in Canada. One of the main difficulties for small and medium enterprises, including us, is that we cannot sell this cable in their jurisdictions, which have IEC codes and no equivalence or any comparable sizes.
The interlocking armoured power cable, which is what you have there, is a North American invention. All of the products and all of the metals that go into the manufacture of that cable are sourced from the province of Quebec. Furthermore, the technology to produce that armour, the flat-rolled mechanical-grade aluminum, has benefited us; it was developed and largely brought on stream by Alcan in flat-rolled steel over the past 50 years.
According to Stats Canada, the volume of imported electrical wiring cable, including Teck cable, is growing each year in Canada. That is creating greater and greater trade imbalances between nations like us and China and the United States. In 2017 Canada imported $1.6 billion of electrical power cable. We only exported $331 million. That's a ratio of $4.85 of imports to every dollar exported from Canada.
Now, the Government of Canada can benefit small and medium enterprises like us by assisting in the promotion of cables like this to be a globally recognized product within IEC standards for trade within CETA and CPTPP. These are new markets. The differences between them, very simply, with these cables all classified in American wire gauge sizes, are the barriers to global trade. Bare copper and bare aluminum conductors are the starting part for all cable designs. Canada needs to take the lead to remove these barriers.
Our own electrical code in Canada, part 1, and provincial electrical codes are creating barriers by only specifying AWG sizes. The IEC standard 60228, on conductors of insulated cables, is also a barrier to trade for North American cable sizes. In order to achieve global trade based on SI units, Northern Cables believes a set of standard sizes based on SI units should be developed.
As I said, there are two types of gauges. There's AWG, which is a standard that goes way back to the 1850s, and there's SI, or système international, which is all based on square millimetres, the size used in IEC 60228, conductors of insulated cables.
I have provided a table in the background information. We have soft conversion. We have hard conversion. No one buys cable in North America in metric sizes. They always refer to it in AWG. You cannot sell the stuff offshore.
We propose a four-step plan to try to elevate the stuff with assistance from the Standards Council of Canada. Add metric conductor sizes to the Canadian electrical code, part I. As part of this first step to introduce the metric sizes, we've already put a proposal in. One of our engineers and Steve Douglas did this. We want to submit more of these things into these codes and standards and convert to hard metric sizes as opposed to the soft conversion.
Canada is a metric country, but we've only gone partway in these areas. By elevating this to hard metric sizes and having the SCC elevate this to the next level, we can then make these products, introduce them into these other markets and export. As it is, these countries can sell into Canada, but we cannot sell into those countries.
Canada follows the international rule of law, with high standards for labour, safety and the environment. As Canada encourages other countries to follow its lead, we inadvertently subject Canadian small and medium enterprises to more regulation and additional costs associated with these high standards.
Teck cables, and other electrical cables, such as telecom, extension cords and utility cables, are all made in other countries from coal-based energy, and contain polymers that sometimes don't meet our low temperature standards.
Currently, we're experiencing aluminum conductors such as this stuff, which we manufacture, coming in from Asia at below world market prices. It's a form of dumping. We would like to see the government apply the Special Import Measures Act duty so that all electrical cables entering Canada come in at world-recognized market values.
Carbon taxes on imported materials and finished goods should be applied. There should be a benefit to domestic manufacturers using clean energy in Canada, and a cost to import electrical cables made from coal-powered energy. That's basically what we're competing against.
In conclusion, Northern Cables is a 22-year-old privately held Canadian manufacturing company located in Brockville and Prescott, Ontario. The firm was started after the closure of Phillips Cables, a Canadian public company that had been located in Brockville since 1922. We started with five employees, and we now have approximately 230 employees as of 2018. We started selling Teck cables domestically in the early years and have consistently added licences and diversity.
Currently, Northern Cables has grown our export market to about 50% of our production. To maintain our position and grow our business, we really need to work within the Standards Council of Canada and the Business Development Bank so we can enter other countries, such as Latin America, South America, which are rich in mining and other natural resources.
We're unable to grow our business more in Canada, because Ontario has already lost 320,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years due to global trade and government policy. Many of these closed industries were once industrial and commercial users of the cables that we manufacture in Ontario.