Launched more than a month ago by the CAQ government, the Quebec Products certification program does not arouse the passions of the province’s manufacturers. Only 200 companies (out of more than 7,000 who may be eligible) have so far indicated their interest via an online form, according to program estimates.
Fab ’artisan owner Fabrice Tremblay filled out the form out of curiosity, as he was doing nothing right now. But “I probably won’t use the certification,” he said, however.
She makes her own leather accessories — camera straps, wallets, belts — in her workshop in Montreal. Its leather originated in the United States. He could claim, if he so desired, the Product made in Quebec logo, the second level of certification proposed by the government.
But Mr. Tremblay does not believe that the investment of time and money to obtain such a stamp of approval is worth it for small artisans like him. “We don’t roll in gold. Why pay to say it’s done here if it’s mentioned anywhere and people believe us?” He asked himself.
The entrepreneur also regrets creating the Designed in Quebec logo. This first level of certification requires that the design and concept of the products be carried out in Quebec, but their manufacture can take place anywhere. “I don’t think we should give a medal to those who do this, especially since they will have a seal that is practically identical to the other two. We should put our energy into promoting the things that have already been done here, ”he said.
The highest level of certification, Product Quebec, requires for its part to be “at least 85% of the direct costs associated with the purchase of inputs, including raw materials, their modification and their meeting [soient] made in Quebec ”.
Other companies are also skeptical, especially since they were burned by the Blue Basket adventure, with almost no additional sales to them.
“The Blue Basket was a total flop, so the government has no credibility in this area”, judges Dawei Ding, president of Signé local, an online platform and a network of stores selling exclusively manufactured items. in Quebec from over 600 suppliers. According to Mr. Ding, Blue Basket has sown confusion among consumers by providing a showcase of both local products and retailers of goods made in China.
Despite everything, the head of Signé local, like all the companies interviewed at the time of writing this article, agrees with the principle of the Produits du Québec program.
“The principle is very good. It’s good to have a certification that allows the buyer to find their way, because sometimes it’s not easy to know what’s actually made in Quebec and to what extent ”, acknowledges Waiter owner Caroline Benoit, who registered online.
For their part, Laboratoires Druide, which offers hygiene and beauty products, is waiting for more details from the program before making a decision. The price of certification will certainly weigh on the balance, admits brand manager, Adel Yakhelef.
A process in motion
The annual invoice for the certifications offered by Produits du Québec will be changed at six levels, according to the company’s annual revenue.
This would, for example, be $ 250 for companies earning less than $ 100,000 a year, and $ 10,000 for those with turnover in excess of $ 50 million. Six months of free certification will be offered to companies that have indicated their interest before June 24th. These registrants-about 200 so far-should contact the program team in the coming weeks to begin the process.
“It’s a good start,” said Quebec Products general manager, Elfi Morin. “We are about to start a more active phase for business development, with retailers and manufacturers. But I am quite glad that there has already been a start and interest above all following Mr. Legault’s announcement. »
The first verified products will be online and on shelves this summer, he said.
For many SMEs, the initiative is commendable, but far from their priorities. “If the management process is difficult and takes months, I’m not sure I’ll take that far. You have to be realistic, as entrepreneurs, we have a lot of work to do,” said Amma Thérapie co-founder , Marie-Jeanne Gauthier, selling therapeutic compresses.
It must be said that times are difficult for local entrepreneurs. Many report supply problems and increasing the cost of their raw materials, forcing them to reduce their profit margins or pass the bill on to consumers. However, inflation causes consumers to also seek to reduce their spending.
Weeds co-owner, Marie Beaupré, was among those who saw a decline in local buying interest; he also sees the beginning of the collapse of his business. “If a house is on fire, your priority is to put out the fire and not to clean it up. So yes, this certification is interesting, but it does not respond to the urgency of the situation ”, photo MI Bowsprit.
He wants to open a dialogue between governments and the business community to find solutions before business closures follow each other. He thinks in particular of tax credits for SMEs, electricity rebates, reduced credit card transaction fees, support for rising transportation costs and local purchasing awareness campaigns.