FedDev Ontario supports production of personal protective equipment in Waterloo Region

News release

$1.9 million for long-standing local manufacturer to produce critical PPE and create 24 skilled jobs

April 13, 2020 – Waterloo, Ontario

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Canada’s manufacturers have shown incredible resilience in the face of economic challenges, with many adapting operations to stay competitive and seize new opportunities for growth in a digital age. Many have also pivoted to support Canada’s response to COVID-19 by harnessing their expertise and retooling their facilities to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for our frontline workers.

Today, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and Member of Parliament for Waterloo, announced a FedDev Ontario repayable contribution of over $1.9 million for Swenco Ltd., one of North America’s leading manufacturers and distributors of components for the safety footwear industry, to expand operations for the full-time production of COVID-19-related PPE.

In response to Canada’s fight against COVID-19, Swenco Ltd. has established a second Waterloo-based facility dedicated to the full-time production of surgical face masks for domestic and international supply. With this investment, the company outfitted its new facility with a certified clean room and specialized manufacturing equipment for mask production. As a result, Swenco Ltd. will produce 7.6 million masks per month upon project completion, with more than 75 percent of the masks to be sold domestically to aid Canada’s COVID-19 relief efforts and increase domestic production capacity.

This project is leveraging an additional $3.8 million in other investment in Waterloo, and strengthening regional supply chain spending by sourcing material from local suppliers. With Government of Canada support, Swenco Ltd. will create 24 new high-quality jobs in Waterloo Region, growing its team from 18 to 42 employees.


“The Government of Canada is committed to enhancing our domestic and international supply of certified PPE with made-in-Canada solutions. Through FedDev Ontario, today's investment in Swenco Ltd. again answers the call to action to ensure vital equipment is available for essential frontline workers across Canada, while creating jobs right here in Waterloo Region.”
- The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and Member of Parliament for Waterloo

“Now, more than ever, our Government is working hard to find solutions that support the health of our people and our economy, which is why we are proud to invest in manufacturers like Swenco Ltd. Together, we are establishing made-in-Canada solutions, growing our domestic PPE supply and creating good jobs for Canadian manufacturers.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Swenco Ltd. has been in business in Ontario for over 59 years. Like many Canadians and Canadian businesses, we were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. We decided that we needed to come forward and be a part of the solution. With the incredible support from FedDev Ontario, we were able to open a state-of-the-art mask production facility in Waterloo and with this expansion we hope to continue supporting our community for years to come."
- Paul Sweeny, President, Swenco Ltd.

Quick facts

  • Swenco Ltd. is a trusted manufacturer of safety products since 1962. Its ever-growing line of STLFLX™ personal protective equipment allows the company to continue to deliver unique and innovative solutions to meet safety needs.

  • Swenco Ltd. is currently partnering with a Waterloo-based company to utilize melt-blown polypropylene nanofibre filtration material that offers a higher level of filtration and comfort than traditional masks for use over longer periods of time.

  • Advanced manufacturing has contributed to a large share of job creation, accounting for half of the 45,000 skilled jobs created in Ontario since 2010.

  • Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested nearly $170 million in over 150 projects in the Waterloo census division.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Emelyana Titarenko
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
Toll Free: 1-866-593-5505

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Website: www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca

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