Like workers, small businesses in our communities have faced challenges in recent years. COVID-19 restrictions that applied to small businesses, but not to big box stores, made it tough. Rising costs due to supply chain problems and high interest rates have added to the struggle. In response, CUPE members voted at our 2021 convention to support buying locally.

“Buying local” means choosing products and services that are made or offered in your own community instead of getting them from large, international corporations. Overall, buying local supports good community jobs and is better for environmental sustainability. That’s why CUPE advocates for Canadian trade and investment deals that protect and prioritize our governments’ ability to buy local.

As consumers, we usually know more about how local businesses treat their workers and the environment. These businesses are also more receptive to community feedback. Buying from them means more of your money stays in the local economy, which can lead to the creation of good local jobs. Additionally, local businesses often source their materials nearby, creating a positive ripple effect. By supporting these businesses, we can ensure that a larger portion of our spending remains in our communities, enhancing economic resilience and stability.

Buying local products can also reduce environmental impact. Goods that are made locally don’t need to travel thousands of miles to reach consumers. This reduction in transportation-related emissions can play a significant role in fighting climate change and decreasing air pollution.

Buying local also helps us feel a sense of belonging and connection in our communities. Local businesses often reflect the cultural identity of a region, offering unique products and experiences that contribute to the distinct character of a place. These small businesses can pay more attention to what each customer needs because they cater to a smaller customer base. This can be true for locally grown produce, handmade crafts or uncommon requests. For example, CUPE purchased custom COVID-19 wellness kits from a small local supplier when we first returned to in-person conferences.

The BDC Small Business Week will be held October 15-21 this year. It’s organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and supported by many local Chambers of Commerce. Check out the BDC website for information about events being held across Canada: