Sask. auto repair program takes effect July 1

SGI’s Safe and Quality Auto Repair Project ensures that autobody repairs meet the latest industry standards.

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A lack of welding along the roof, caused their vehicle to buckle and collapse when they collided with another oncoming car.

The incident, which happened along a stretch of highway in Texas, was a major wake-up call for the auto industry across North America. More locally, it inspired SGI to take action with the creation of an auto-repair program that would ensure autobody workers are up-to-date on the latest information and have access to the equipment necessary to fix newer car models.

Known as the Safe and Quality Auto Repair Project (SQARP), it encourages autobody businesses to adopt the tools, equipment, training and certification needed to fix modern car technology on models built in 2016 or later. Initially delayed by the pandemic, the requirements take effect July 1, after three years of planning.

“We need vehicles that, once they’ve been in a collision, and they’ve been repaired, we need to ensure that they offer the same protection in the event of another collision, just as when the vehicle was new,” said Ryan Smith, vice-president of SGI’s Saskatchewan Claims and Salvage Operations.

These changes come as a welcome advancement. In the past 27 years, no changes have been made to the car repair process and as Smith explained, with rapid technological advancement, many of the skills and tools that autobody repair workers have and use are outdated.

He pointed to welding as an example, stating that with more modern high-strength steel, they need stronger tools, but also said backing and reinforcement for panels and structures must be completed properly too.

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The project provided incentives for business-owners for tool purchases and training; $6,000 for non-accredited businesses and $15,000 for accredited businesses who were certified through an OEM Certified Collision Care certification or Canadian Collision Industry Accreditation Program (CCIAP).

As of July 1, all businesses who signed up for SQARP, must provide their workers with the proper equipment and training. They must reference OEM procedures as part of the the repair process on SGI claims. Shops will need to document all repairs requiring panel and structural replacement or sectioning by taking photos.

Initially the deadline for the project was March 1, but it was extended by four months, giving businesses more time to access proper training amidst the pandemic.

“In some cases our partners weren’t comfortable with in-person training,” Smith explained. “Almost all of the training required is available online, except for the welding courses. We wanted to ensure that we supported the industry by subsidizing the delivery of those courses.”

He added that although more businesses decided to sign up for the project, those who chose not to will be un-accredited, subject to a lower paid labour-rate and monitored more closely.

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