Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Industry associations quarterly roundup

April 22, 2024
By Sukanya Ray Ghosh


Industry associations in Canada’s manufacturing and automation sectors have been working to ensure their members are well-prepared to remain competitive in the global market.

Here are updates from associations and their take on ongoing trends in the first quarter of the year:

Automate Canada

The first quarter of the year has not seen any significant positive movements in terms of business growth for the members of Automate Canada. Dave Fortin, the chair of the association, shares that from an economic perspective, industrial manufacturing has been quite flat so far, even though it is not shrinking.

Canada, recently, has seen an uptick in investments in the automotive space, especially in electric vehicles, batteries and other EV components. Investments in new battery facilities, or expansion of existing ones, create opportunities for retooling and automation. Fortin shares that for new facilities, there is a possibility that the automotive companies will purchase and install imported equipment. This means that during the initial years when the plants are built, Automate Canada members and Canadian equipment suppliers will see negligible positive impact on their businesses.

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He adds, however, that once all equipment is in place and running, opportunities for Canadian companies will open up.

“We’ll start to see business because they’ll begin coming to people like us, and other machine builders to fill in small gaps, to fill in the process that they need, things that need to be upgraded and so on,” he says.

In terms of activities, Automate Canada has had a good start in 2024. The association hosted a cybersecurity seminar in January and a seminar on battery cell manufacturing in February, in collaboration with Siemens Canada. Automate Canada is also working on expanding its membership with the goal of doubling its numbers by the end of the year.

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

In Q1 of 2024, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) highlighted the manufacturing labour shortage crisis in Ontario.

CME shared that 18,900 jobs were unfilled and over 7,000 confirmed new manufacturing jobs were about to open up while significant retirements were expected between 2024 and 2028. Anticipating the shortages and the fact that many of these new jobs require advanced skills and expertise, CME called on the Ontario government to strengthen its approach to training and upskilling in a report titled Manufacturing Ontario’s Future, published in February.

The association recommended that the province:

  1. Double down on its efforts to bring industry and education institutions together to address skills gaps and better plan training opportunities with Regional Industry Councils;
  2. Augment the Ontario Made Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit with matching support for employer-led training; and,
  3. Better align the Provincial Nominee Program with the needs of employers and workers to help replenish an aging workforce.

CME also shared its approval of the Ontario budget, especially the support extended to the manufacturing sector. The association noted that the most notable measure was the confirmation of longer-term funding for the Ontario Made Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit, from three years to four. CME also welcomed additional investments in the Invest Ontario Fund, shipbuilding and workforce development through the Skills Development Fund.

“Businesses will continue to benefit from manufacturing-friendly policies. In 2024, the implementation of Emission Performance Standards and the new Ontario Made Tax Credit will provide much-needed capital for modernization and emission reduction in our sector,” said Dennis Darby, CEO of CME.


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