Feds moving on innovation, jobs, Flaherty says
By Alison Dunn
The Harper government plans to help build a strong manufacturing sector through promoting innovation and jobs, according to finance minister Jim Flaherty.
Flaherty made the remarks on Tuesday, speaking at the Waterloo Region Manufacturing Innovation Network’s Manufacturing Summit in Kitchener, Ont. He highlighted how key elements of the government’s Economic Action Plan 2012 will significantly strengthen Canadian manufacturers.
Among the areas he highlighted was innovation. “We’re a country of great natural resources, but our greatest renewable natural resource is our grey matter,” he said. “Our government has gone to great lengths to nurture it.”
Flaherty said the government plans to double the size of the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and refocus the NRC on areas that will develop Canadian businesses that offer innovative products and services. The government has also earmarked $400 million to establish a venture capital fund at the federal level.
The minister also emphasized jobs as part of the government’s plan to strengthen the country’s manufacturing sector. “There is a shortage of workers who are qualified for the jobs that are available,” he said. “It’s quite frustrating.”
The government plans to continue the hiring credit for small business for another year to encourage small- to medium-size enterprises to continue to hire work, as well as to continue to reform Employment Insurance (EI) to encourage people to re-join the workforce.