Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is backing the Ontario government’s plan to create an Advanced Manufacturing Strategy as announced in yesterday’s provincial budget.
CME is also supportive of the provincial government’s commitments in new investments in labour, infrastructure, and innovation.
“Manufacturers have been calling for an integrated strategy for a long time. The province’s commitment to create an advanced manufacturing strategy is critical for Ontario’s prosperity and growth for the next generation,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME.
CME was also happy to see the creation of an Advanced Manufacturing Council to help inform the strategy, Darby added.
“CME’s members are ready and willing to bring their voices to the table to help provide input on the development of a strategy that directly impacts their everyday life,” he said.
The top concern for manufacturers remains the availability of skilled workers. CME welcomed the renewed commitment of $114.4M to the Skilled Trades Strategy and $6.9M to enhance the Investing in Women’s Future Program. CME also supports the $15.1M investment to grow the Ontario Nominee program and make it more responsive to the needs of Ontario employers.
“At the end of 2021, Ontario manufacturers had nearly 31,000 job vacancies, an indication of how acute skills and labour shortages are for our sector. While these measures are welcome, a comprehensive labour force strategy needs to be created to fill the labour shortages of today and train the workers of tomorrow,” said Darby.
Ontario also announced investments in infrastructure and supply chains.
“We welcome the $21.5 billion investment in highways upgrades and the essential transit purchase and refurbishment contracts that will support well-paying manufacturing jobs in Northern Ontario,” Darby said. “The reliable and efficient movement of goods and people is critical to the manufacturing sector. CME has long called for the province to protect infrastructure and is pleased to see a commitment of $96M over three years to protect critical infrastructure against unlawful disruptions such as blockades.”
CME was also supportive of several measures designed to improve Ontario’s investment and innovation performance, including the new life sciences and low-carbon hydrogen strategies, and the $107M investment over three years to support access to and commercialization of new critical technologies initiatives.
Also noteworthy CME said is a commitment of $91M in EV charging infrastructure, the establishment of a critical minerals strategy, and linking the Ring of Fire to the rest of the province to unite the province in developing the future of our automotive sector.
“Although Budget 2022 is a step in the right direction, our work is not over to remove barriers to enable Ontario’s manufacturing sector to grow and thrive, not just today, but for years to come,” concluded Darby.
Ontario’s manufacturing sector employs close to 775,000 Ontarians. The sector’s 36,200 manufacturing firms also directly generate over 12 per cent of the province’s GDP and over three-quarters of its merchandise exports. Taking direct and indirect impacts into account, the sector’s footprint amounts to more than 30 per cent of Ontario’s economic activity.
More than 85 per cent of CME’s members are SMEs and collectively account for an estimated 82 per cent of total manufacturing production and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.