Platform For Prosperity Driving Economic Growth

Jane Taber

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) released its Ontario Manufacturers’ Platform for Prosperity, outlining a provincial strategy to restore Ontario’s manufacturing sector’s leading position. This plan, which is based on three pillars – workforce, business costs, and scale-up – is crucial to Ontario’s prosperity and its ability to stay competitive.

Ontario’s Manufacturing Sector Lags Behind

Ontario has been lagging for several years despite being Canada’s largest manufacturing province, accounting for 45% of the country’s manufacturing output and about 50% of its manufacturing exports.

With a slow decline in investment since the early 2000s and little growth in exports, the erosion of Ontario’s industrial competitiveness directly impacts manufacturers’ ability to grow.

While the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic has led to strong demand for local and stable goods, manufacturers are limited in capitalizing on this opportunity for several reasons, including labour and skills shortages, which are the most pressing issues facing manufacturers today. A recent survey by CME showed that 82% of manufacturers are experiencing labour shortages. The high cost of doing business in Ontario is also causing limitations.

A Concrete Plan To Boost Investment

It is time for action. CME has a “2% challenge” – for Canada to secure 2% of OECD manufacturing investment by the end of the decade and for Ontario to get its fair share of this activity – $18 billion annually. To accomplish the challenge set by CME, the three pillars of its Platform for Prosperity need to be addressed:

  • Labour shortages/get manufacturers the workers we need;
  • Lower the cost of doing business; and
  • Support business scale-up and investment.

“The manufacturing sector is critical to Ontario, and we need to act decisively to re-establish our leading position,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME. “Following consultations with our members, we have identified solutions to help Ontario’s manufacturers reclaim their rightful place on the world stage and to create a strategy that will enable Ontario’s manufacturing sector to grow and thrive. However, for manufacturers to be ready to meet the challenges ahead, we need the provincial government to be a true partner.”

Driving Growth

CME is pleased to extend its service offerings to Ontario’s manufacturing sector through complimentary training and affordable peer-to-peer mentoring due to funding received from the Ontario government. The two biggest challenges hindering the manufacturing sector’s ability to grow and thrive are supply chain disruptions and labour shortages. CME’s suite of training services aims to overcome those challenges through Lean 101 Training, Women in Manufacturing Leadership Training, Health and Safety Training, and Lean Site Audits.

“Across Ontario, more than 300,000 jobs continue to go unfilled every day, costing our province billions in lost productivity,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “This CME program will help workers in the manufacturing sector get the training they need to earn bigger paycheques and help businesses find the skilled workers they need to grow the economy for everyone.”

Available to employees in any manufacturing company in the province at no cost, courses will be offered virtually and in person. These training services are designed to improve manufacturers’ access to specific skills development and peer-to-peer training and help Ontario staff in manufacturing organizations grow as we emerge from the pandemic. This includes improvements to innovation, productivity, safety, leadership development, and stronger supply chains.

“Labour and skills shortages are the most pressing issues facing manufacturers today,” said Mathew Wilson, Senior Vice President, Policy, Government Relations, and Ontario Division for CME. “CME’s Ontario Manufacturers’ Platform for Prosperity calls on the government to get manufacturers the workers they need and to support business scale-up and investment. This government funding is in line with those asks and what CME has been continually advocating for – more support for manufacturers to build the capacity of their workforce and to develop the skills they need to drive economic growth.”

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