TORONTO—The province will give serious consideration to a recommendation to use vouchers to help small businesses take advantage of research being done at universities, Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid says.
“There’s no question that one of our challenges in Ontario in the past is we’ve always been good at innovation and research, but we haven’t been as good at commercialization,” said Duguid.
“The voucher idea, and I don’t want to comment on specific recommendations, but that’s where it leads us, trying to build closer relationships to drive more commercialization into the research that we’re doing in our post-secondary institutions.”
An expert panel set up by Premier Dalton McGuinty last spring said the province’s myriad of business support programs should be combined into a single jobs and prosperity fund for business supports.
“The fund should include an integrated, one-window delivery model with strengthened accountability and regular review of outcome effectiveness,” concluded the panel, headed by Royal Bank of Canada CEO Gord Nixon.
The government will use the panel’s report to determine what actions are needed for Ontario to capitalize on its existing strengths in a time of increased global competition, said Duguid.
“This report will help us take the next step in creating a more competitive, more productive economy that will allow us to win on the global stage,” he said.
However, the opposition said another report isn’t going to create any jobs and will only gather dust on a shelf like so many previous reports from expert panels.
The Tories said it was time for the minority Liberal government to recall the legislature, which McGuinty prorogued in October, so tough issues like the economy can be fully debated.
“Unlike the Liberals who believe that you can create jobs through a series of studies, the Ontario PCs understand that to create jobs you have to balance the budget, pay down debt and grow the economy,” said Progressive Conservative Monte McNaughton.
“Each day the house remains prorogued is another day we’re unable to pass pro-growth policies.”
The expert panel said “the status quo is not an option,” and said the province’s prosperity will depend “on innovative, highly productive firms that are flexible enough to capitalize on opportunities where and whenever they emerge.”
It also recommends the government temporarily give manufacturers a 100 per cent tax write-off for new machinery, up from 50 per cent, and help businesses find new markets in China, India and Brazil and reduce dependence on exports to the United States and Europe.