Investing in Regional Innovation and Development


Speaking Points

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

North Bay, Ontario

April 19, 2017

Thank you, Anthony Rota, Member of Parliament for Nipissing–Timiskaming for that kind introduction. 

Good morning, everyone. It’s great to be here in North Bay. 

This is my fourth trip to Northern Ontario.  

Staying connected is essential to me as minister responsible for regional economic development.

I come here to listen, learn and keep up with what’s important to you as well as to see first-hand how our programs are working for you. 

I especially like coming to Northern Ontario to see the great work that FedNor does to support businesses in this region. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of Canada is committed to helping communities in Northern Ontario thrive. 

And FedNor provides that on-the-ground support. 

That’s why I’m pleased to announce today an annual increase of $5 million to FedNor’s Northern Ontario Development Program. 

This increase will result in a total of $25 million over five years for investments that will diversify and strengthen this region`s economy. 

FedNor is so effective because of its close relationships with the business and community leaders in this region as well as with Indigenous governments and the province. 

FedNor also understands the role that universities and colleges play in preparing our young people for the jobs of today and tomorrow. 

With this additional funding, FedNor will continue to invest in projects with the greatest potential to create new jobs and business opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it. 

I’m also proud to announce today our government’s latest measure to diversify and strengthen this region’s economy. 

It’s called the Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario. 

This strategy will outline a targeted approach for this region to thrive. 

In particular, this strategy will focus on identifying opportunities in emerging industries to develop new businesses and new jobs for Northern Ontarians. 

This strategy will also focus on working with Indigenous communities to support their growth. 

Most important, this strategy will be developed in partnership with all of you—the community and business leaders of this region. 

Starting this spring, FedNor will be engaging you on the development of this strategy. 

These discussions will focus on how to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities in Northern Ontario while also advancing national priorities. 

These priorities include strengthening regional economies in ways that benefit all Canadians, supporting high-growth businesses that expand beyond our borders and investing in new ways to produce energy that reduce pollution and improve our air and water quality. 

The emerging market for clean technology is now worth trillions of dollars worldwide. 

Clean tech reflects our government's commitment to protecting the planet, but it also points to a clear and strategic direction for economic development through innovation. 

Clean tech has the potential to create thousands of jobs, especially in the resource-based communities of Northern Ontario. 

Our government will help this region seize this valuable opportunity. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of Canada recognizes that each region of our country has unique strengths. 

We also recognize that innovation doesn’t just happen in the big cities. It happens in every region of the country. 

At its most basic, innovation is about making things better in ways that benefit everyone. 

Where innovation happens matters because that’s where the best jobs are located. 

Innovation can create entirely new industries that never existed before. 

Innovation can also give existing industries a new lease on life by making them more productive and efficient. 

Innovation is happening at Canadore College right here in North Bay. 

The College’s Innovation Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Production provides businesses across all sectors with a “sandbox” to try out new ideas and technologies. 

It’s a low-risk testing ground for companies before they adopt or commercialize promising products and services. 

Innovation is happening in Sault Ste Marie, where FedNor has helped bring to life a state-of-the-art robotics lab at Sault College. 

In turn, the college has helped a lottery ticket manufacturer automate its packing and shipping process, freeing up workers for other value-added jobs. 

Innovation is happening in Sudbury. 

There, FedNor has provided a company called Symbioticware with funding to bring cutting-edge hardware and software to market. 

Symbioticware is doing fascinating things with wireless data technology in underground mines to boost productivity and improve safety for workers.  

It’s clear from these examples that innovation is happening in Northern Ontario.

And these innovations are creating the well-paying jobs of today and tomorrow. 

That’s why the centrepiece of our government’s budget for 2017 is called the Innovation and Skills Plan. 

This multi-year plan will create more opportunities for Canadians to do business, especially in high-growth areas of the economy where Canada has existing strengths. 

This plan will also support Canadians as they develop the skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow. 

The Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario will serve as the innovation and skills plan for this region. 

We want every part of the country to eventually have its own version of this strategy. 

And each regional strategy will reflect the unique strengths and opportunities of that region. 

That’s how FedNor and other regional development agencies will adopt a common set of priorities without losing their local touch. 

The goal is to promote regional advantages that help our homegrown companies develop into globally competitive successes. 

Another goal is to attract global companies to invest in all regions of the country. 

Above all, our goal is to give Canadians at all stages of their lives the supports they need to continuously learn and enhance their skill sets.

That’s how we will ensure that every job is a better job for Canadians in every region of the country. 

Ladies and gentlemen, since becoming the minister in charge of the regional development agencies two years ago, I have seen them deliver tremendous results for the communities that they serve. 

Among other things, these agencies set out to double their investments in clean technology. 

They succeeded by meeting their target of investing a total of $100 million in clean tech. 

The agencies also identified many of the 150 firms that are now receiving federal support to grow their businesses nationally and internationally. 

As these companies grow, they will create more jobs for Northern Ontarians. 

In fact, as each region develops its own version of the Innovation and Skills Plan, each regional development agency will be accountable for delivering meaningful results for the communities it serves. 

Let me outline a few of these results-based targets. 

Over the next five years, FedNor and the other five regional development agencies will invest a total of $1.5 billion to strengthen innovation capacity in every region of the country. 

This funding will be used to support small and medium-sized businesses that want to adopt new technologies. 

It will also strengthen each region’s capacity to innovate in ways that enable new companies to start and grow. 

In addition, FedNor and the other regional development agencies will nominate at least 50 firms across the country to participate in a federal program that will help them grow nationally and internationally. 

Finally, over the next five years, the regional development agencies will support a total of 250 Indigenous communities as they develop and diversify their economies.

That’s how our government will ensure that the jobs, opportunities and prosperity that come with innovation benefit Canadians in all corners of our great country. 

And that’s how innovation will create a better Canada. 

Thank you. 

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