The pharmaceutical giant Sanofi leaves Quebec

The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi is turning an important page in its history in the country by preferring Ontario to Quebec. As part of a nationwide restructuring, Sanofi Canada will close its head office and its Quebec distribution center in December, which will lead to the loss of approximately 85 jobs, learned The duty.

The company confirmed this information by email: [Malgré le fait] Although we will no longer have our head office and distribution center in Quebec at the end of 2022, we will maintain a presence in the province in order to continue to serve patients and our customers. »

Nearly 85 employees who work in Laval or Kirkland will find themselves unemployed by the end of the year. The company undertakes “to treat all [ses] employees with respect while implementing these changes and to support them throughout this period”. They would have been informed of this restructuring in recent months; some have been offered severance packages. The company states in its email that “details regarding employees or organizational changes are confidential.”

The end of Sanofi’s Quebec operations stems from a Canada-wide restructuring. The multinational claims to prefer to concentrate its presence in a single location, namely Toronto. This will foster “a highly collaborative environment between colleagues, which will allow better sharing of ideas, experiences and skills between teams”.

In March 2021, the Sanofi Pasteur division announced the opening in the Queen City of a production plant for Fluzone, its flu vaccine for seniors. More than 815 million Canadian dollars will be injected into the construction of these new facilities, a project that will be carried out in partnership with the governments of Canada, Ontario and Toronto.

“A business decision”

“It seems to me to be a business decision which, although unfortunate for Montreal and Quebec, is based on a certain logic for a company like Sanofi”, notes Frank Béraud, CEO of Montreal InVivo, which brings together hundreds of organizations and research centers in the life sciences and health technologies in the greater Montreal area.

He adds: “What that makes me say is that the efforts we are making to attract factories – like that of Moderna, recently – are important and strategic in order to be able to retain or attract other Canadian head offices including this — why not? — from Moderna, for example. »

Sanofi currently employs approximately 2,000 people in Canada. In 2021, it has invested more than $143 million in research and development in the country.

But if its investments have grown in recent years, the company’s footprint in Quebec has weakened in the last decade. In 2012, Sanofi eliminated more than 125 jobs in the metropolitan area, the majority of them in Laval, where its laboratory and production site were located.

The company was then not the only multinational to significantly reduce its workforce around the world – and in the Montreal region, more specifically. Also in 2012, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca closed their research center in the metropolis, eliminating 126 and 132 jobs respectively. At the time, the multinationals claimed to have to restructure their activities because of an anticipated loss of revenue resulting from the expiry of certain lucrative patents.

This time, the transfer of Sanofi’s activities is taking place at the same time as another pharmaceutical company, Moderna, prepares to settle in Montreal. When announcing the arrival of the American pharmaceutical company specializing in mRNA vaccines in the metropolis, the Prime Minister Francois Legault proudly rejoiced that Quebec had trumped Ontario: “Quebec won the battle for the Moderna plant. »

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