Michael Ouellette, EditorClick image to enlargeby Michael Ouellette

I have been covering Canada’s manufacturing sector for a long time—about 20 years—and have been witness to an incredible amount of change in that time.

I cut my teeth writing about manufacturing for a small “mom-and-pop” publisher. From there, I was lucky enough to be hired by one of the largest business media companies in Canada. It was my first real journalism gig and I stayed there through a number of iterations for more than 15 years. 

It was there that I grew to appreciate the role industry plays in our advanced economy: the understanding that manufacturing is one of the only sectors that truly creates value from scratch, and there are few regions that do a better job of it than right here in Canada. Our country’s reputation for manufacturing highly engineered technical products is recognized throughout the world. 

Yet one constant in this ever-changing industry is that our manufacturers have been able to earn this reputation with scant assistance from our provincial and federal governments. 

None of this is to say Canada is a bad place to start a manufacturing business. A stable government, low corruption and handy location beside a major world economy is a good start. But in terms of tax policy, grants and loans, there’s a lot more being done in other countries. 

Sure, you can amortize your capital equipment investments against federal taxes and you can export to Europe without a lot of tariffs. But this is worth pennies on the dollar compared to other regions that have enacted policy and financial boosts to promote innovation, education and workforce development. 

That’s especially true in jurisdictions we consider our biggest competitors. While Canada and its provinces spent billions propping up the auto sector (during the recession of 2010) and Bombardier (seemingly constantly), the vast majority of small and medium-sized manufacturers saw none of this funding trickle down to them. And yet they forge ahead—winning contracts, adding value and keeping Canada’s reputation for quality intact. 

Imagine what you could do on a more equal footing?

We won’t be able to help on the policy side much, but Shop's role in this process has always been to find ways to help small and medium-sized firms grow, add jobs and improve process efficiency. And though I’m new to this magazine, that mission won’t change. 

There are a lot of factors that go into running a successful machining or fabrication shop. Keep turning the pages here at Shop Metalworking Technology Magazine and I promise you will find a few new ideas or technologies to prepare you for growth in the years ahead. SMT

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