Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce
The Honourable Bardish Chagger, PC, MP
Minister of Small Business and Tourism
August 9, 2016
Check Against Delivery
Good afternoon. And thank you, Paul, for that great introduction.
A big thanks to Brian Bigger, Mayor of Sudbury, and Tracy Nutt, Chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, and to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce for hosting us today.
Events like these are essential to helping the government understand the challenges and opportunities facing the business community—both here in Northern Ontario and across the country.
So thank you for the opportunity to be here today.
I know that Minister Bains hosted a round table here in May and visited the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, or NORCAT, as it's known. He said that it was great to learn about the opportunities and challenges related to innovation in Northern Ontario. It's something I had to come see for myself.
As you know, Minister Bains, Minister Duncan and I launched the government's inclusive innovation agenda in June. Our goal is for Canada to be a world leader in turning ideas into solutions and growing start-up companies into global successes. That's what innovation is all about. I invite you to share your ideas on innovation through the interactive Innovation Agenda webpage on the Government of Canada website.
The need to act is urgent, as the global economy is changing rapidly. Technology continues to transform how we live and work. Industries are being reshaped as markets and businesses race to adapt.
I know that Northern Ontario has been particularly affected by these factors and that you are making significant progress in adapting to them.
For example, manufacturers here are producing new and exciting products as well as finding new ways to make use of the region's abundant natural resources for value-added manufacturing.
We are also seeing significant growth in terms of science and innovation, particularly in larger communities like Thunder Bay and Sudbury.
Here in the Nickel City, you have companies like Symboticware that are using technology and innovation to find new ways of improving their work in the mining industry.
And you have Penguin Automated Systems, a company literally doing “ground breaking” work in the world of robotics and tele-operation for use in mining and other underground applications.
Sudbury is also home to a world-class incubator in NORCAT, an organization that is helping numerous innovative businesses turn new ideas into products and services to be commercialized for use in Canada and around the world.
So clearly, Sudbury and Northern Ontario are on the right track. But for us to truly prosper, Canada as a whole must act boldly if we want to be a leader in this transformed economy.
Our government's multi-year, inclusive innovation agenda will prepare us to take on these challenges, including how we can shape Canada as an entrepreneurial and creative society by fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Small businesses are key to Canada's success. SMEs represent 99 percent of all businesses in Canada and employ almost 90 percent of the private sector workforce. This clearly demonstrates that we are a nation of entrepreneurs who want to succeed.
Simply put, small businesses like yours are the backbone of the Canadian economy. You create jobs. You support communities. You support our large companies by being a vital part of the supply chain in industries around the globe.
And you allow our best and brightest to shine.
I was thrilled to recently launch the Accelerated Growth Service in support of your efforts.
Under this national pilot project, we are exploring different approaches to delivering federal support, such as financing solutions, advisory services and export and innovation support, in a coordinated manner.
This is all about delivering the right services, at the right speed and scale, to help Canada's most promising firms reach their full potential.
We are also looking for ways to improve and build on our existing tools—such as the Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program and BDC's venture accelerator program.
And, of course, on the work of our regional development agencies—including FedNor.
These are just some of the ways we are helping SMEs as part of our innovation agenda. Of course, we could also talk about the Industrial Research Assistance Program as well as CanExport, among others.
The bottom line is that these are the first few steps. Rest assured, our government plans on going beyond these initial commitments.
I want to truly understand your needs.
I understand there is a lot on the go for all Canadian entrepreneurs who are working very hard to grow their businesses. And the goal is to help Canada's entrepreneurs become more productive, innovative and export-oriented.
I know that these are goals that organizations like the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce share with us.
That's why I'm so eager to reach out to you, the people driving the innovation ecosystem. I want to get everyone involved. I want to listen and I want to hear about best practices. I will be working with all partners to deliver on my mandate and to help you succeed.
Now, small business is a major part of my mandate, but it's not the only part. Tourism is just as important for me, and I know it's a major driver here in Northern Ontario, so I'd like to tell you about what our government is doing to support this industry.
In Greater Sudbury, there are more than 300 lakes—more than in any other municipality in Canada.
There are also the very cool—and educational—Science North and Dynamic Earth museums. Not to mention festivals like Up Here and the Northern Lights Festival Boréal.
It's no surprise, then, that Sudbury was named the happiest city in Canada last year! And the tourism industry's numbers continue to shoot up, giving the city's hard-working tourism operators even more to cheer about. In short, it's a good time to be involved in local and national tourism.
Last year, the number of international overnight visitors to Canada grew by 7.5 percent, and tourism revenues reached over $90 billion. This was the first time in over a decade that Canada surpassed the international overall growth in tourist arrivals. Now that's something to celebrate.
What's more, tourism spending in the first quarter of 2016 jumped 3.5 percent over the same period last year. This is the 12th consecutive quarterly gain in tourism spending and the largest increase since the second quarter of 2014.
And when the Canadian tourism industry grows, the hundreds of thousands of Canadian families supported by the industry do better.
Our government is doing its part to help sustain this success. Last month, we launched consultations on how to define Canada's new tourism vision. And yesterday, I convened a tourism round table in Parry Sound–Muskoka as part of my consultations with Canadian stakeholders. I want to better understand the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Northern Ontario operators and look at how the federal government can help increase visits to this and other regions of Canada by international travellers.
As we move toward the development of a new tourism vision, the federal government will continue to support marketing efforts to grow tourism. Destination Canada's $30-million Connecting America campaign is working with provincial partners to help draw more U.S. visitors to Canada.
And as part of Budget 2016, we are providing an additional $50 million to Destination Canada to increase marketing initiatives in important international markets, such as the U.S. and China.
We are also investing in our system of national parks, and we're working with nearby communities to help grow local eco-tourism industries and create jobs.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to say that I'm fighting hard for this industry and that tourism is a priority for our government.
We don't just want to chase trends; we want to help shape them. That means developing a long-term sustained effort to build the tourism industry and sell the Canada brand. I know my Cabinet colleagues will be working hard to advance the brand as well.
In closing, I want you to know that I am committed to open, honest government. I am accountable to you, the businesspeople I represent at the Cabinet table.
I am honoured to have this opportunity to consult with you as we build an even greater country.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank you for coming today and wish you continued success in your endeavours.
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