HAMILTON, ONT.— Manufacturers are facing a “very different” future, Christian Paradis, Canada’s industry minister said during at speech he gave last Wednesday at the Adding Value: Canada as a Platform for Global Manufacturing conference in Hamilton.
“Because the hard truth is that we have to look to tomorrow—to transforming how we do business. The old manufacturing economy is not coming back. And we have to prepare for a future that is going to be very different from the past,” he said.
He pointed to ArcelorMittal’s slogan, “transforming tomorrow”, as inspiration.
“Not looking to the past, not recapturing yesterday but transforming tomorrow.”
Paradis said making investments in new products, processes and people are key to the success in the new global economy. Canada has penned free trade agreements (FTAs) with nine countries since 2007, changing the business climate domestically, while opening new markets for Canadian firms abroad.
In light of increased global competition, he says Canadian manufacturers need to increase R&D and actively develop new markets.
“Because manufacturing is a high-tech industry, we need to have people with the skill and the know-how to be able to succeed. And not just on the factory floor. Today’s manufacturing is also about the information technology specialists in the front office, the designers and engineers and accounts down the street and the logistics experts and marketing staff around the world,” he said.
Paradis also assured manufacturers the federal government sees manufacturing as an equal of the oil industry.
“Our government does not see two separate economies—one based on resources and the other on manufacturing,” Paradis said. “We see one single, integrated economy grounded in solid fiscal fundamentals that give our manufacturers a strategic advantage.”
The government pointed to initiatives taken by the federal government to bolster the manufacturing sector, including cutting the corporate tax rate, removing the federal capital tax, eliminating tariffs on machinery and equipment, doubling the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).
“The future of manufacturing in Canada does not lie in some government program. It comes from our entrepreneurs, our innovators and our job creators. It comes from all of us—government, industry and research organizations working together.”
Manufacturing is responsible for 13 per cent of Canada’s GDP and employs 1.8 million people.