April 7, 2014 by The Honourable Gary Goodyear
Today’s manufacturers need to find ways to operate faster, more efficiently and on a larger-scale to keep up with competitors, especially those beyond our borders.
According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing revenues for Ontario in 2013 were nearly $270 billion. Home to more than 17,000 manufacturing companies, with skilled and knowledgeable workers, top-notch innovators and some of the world’s leading manufacturing firms, southern Ontario has deep roots in manufacturing.
The province has, however, witnessed a decline in manufacturing and manufacturing competitiveness due in part to failure to invest in machinery and equipment. As a share of GDP, Ontario companies’ investment in machinery and equipment remains among the lowest of its peers. Furthermore, while Ontario ranks high in innovation and scientific discovery, challenges remain in converting new ideas and technologies into products and services that fare well in commercial markets.
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) was created by the Government of Canada in 2009 to support businesses, manufacturers, organizations and communities across the region. To date, FedDev Ontario has invested more than $230 million to support over 1,400 manufacturing projects, resulting in greater investment in new technology to improve productivity.
This includes investments in businesses like Barrie-based Southmedic Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of medical devices such as oxygen masks and scalpels. With FedDev Ontario support, Southmedic automated its assembly process for its patented OxyMask, more than doubling production capacity. The company has also centralized its high-quality blade manufacturing with a grinding machine that’s the first of its kind in North America. The automation also allowed for various processes to be completed in-house instead of outsourced, keeping jobs in the region. These improvements have enabled Southmedic to better meet the needs of Canadian and international customers and supply chain demands, and to stay globally competitive in the medical device field.
This is just one example of a success story, but much more can be done. The Agency has also partnered with the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Yves Landry Foundation, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Medical Devices Canada and 24 post-secondary institutions across the region to help businesses address productivity challenges and create new products and processes.
FedDev Ontario continues to help manufacturers through a number of new funding initiatives launched in December 2013. The new $200-million Advanced Manufacturing Fund in Ontario will promote the continued growth of Ontario’s advanced manufacturing sector by supporting large-scale, transformative manufacturing activities such as prototyping, demonstration projects, advanced product testing, and applied research.
The Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives provide more than $530 million over five years starting in April 2014. The new initiatives are: Investing in Business Innovation; Investing in Business Growth and Productivity; Investing in Commercialization Partnerships; and Investing in Regional Diversification. These initiatives were created based on feedback from stakeholders and were designed to seize opportunities for improvement and the adaptation of new equipment, technology and processes, increasing opportunities for our businesses regionally, nationally and internationally.
A strong Canada depends on highly productive, innovative businesses, as well as having opportunities to expand and diversify markets at home and globally.
For further information on the funding and partnerships opportunities available, visit www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca.
The Honourable Gary Goodyear is Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.