FOR THE ONTARIO FOOD AND BEVERAGE PROCESSING INDUSTRY TO GROW AND PROSPER
Text by The Honourable Gary Goodyear, P.C., M.P., Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)
As the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, or FedDev Ontario, I would love to host a dinner party for the food and beverage processing industry in Ontario. However, with more than 95,000 employees from more than 3,000 organizations, I don’t believe there’s a venue large enough in the province to accommodate this tremendous group!
Instead, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few months meeting with industry stakeholders in various cities to talk about the best recipe for making this industry grow and prosper.
There is no doubt that the food and beverage processing industry plays a key role in Ontario’s and Canada’s economy. Its economic spinoffs also have a direct impact on other players in the food supply chain, such as Ontario’s many farmers.
However, I have been hearing you say that your industry faces fierce global competition, shifting consumer demands, challenges in accessing foreign markets, as well as difficulty accessing financing and R&D to further improve product and process innovation.
These economic realities highlight more than ever the importance of collaboration in this industry. Just as a recipe is never successful without all of the right ingredients, I truly believe that we are stronger, more productive and more successful when the public and private sectors work together – each bringing our unique talents, expertise and assets to the table.
For the part of the federal government, we are confident that we are providing the right ingredients – the right macro-economic conditions and the necessary targeted investments from across federal departments and agencies – to retain, attract and grow Canadian businesses.
FedDev Ontario was created in August 2009 to help re-establish southern Ontario as a key driver of innovation and growth within the Canadian economy. To date, we have committed more than $41 million to 51 food and beverage processing-related projects in southern Ontario, leveraging more than $292 million in additional funding.
In addition to investing directly in companies, I am pleased that we worked with partners such as the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Yves Landry Foundation and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to improve productivity for businesses in your industry. Many of you may have benefitted from these programs. This has resulted in an investment of nearly $5.5 million in 131 projects, which has leveraged more than $13 million.
From investing in new plants such as Dr. Oetker in London and Vantage Foods in Belleville, to expanding existing facilities such as Fiera Foods in Toronto, our government is helping to retain a core manufacturing sector here in southern Ontario.
An industry also needs the right talent to sustain growth. FedDev Ontario has helped to provide this ingredient with an investment in the state-of-the-art Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology at Conestoga College in Cambridge. This institute is providing a real-life work environment designed to help graduates understand the entire food production process from raw materials to finished, packaged products.
FedDev Ontario will build upon this strong foundation with additional funding provided in Economic Action Plan 2013.
In December, I launched the Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives (SOPIs), which will provide more than $530 million over five years, beginning in April.
• Investing in business innovation;
• Investing in business growth and productivity;
• Investing in commercialization partnerships; and
• Investing in regional diversification.
These initiatives, created based on feedback from stakeholders, build on the agency’s successes to-date and reinforce a continued commitment to building a strong and prosperous southern Ontario.
In particular, for the food and beverage processing sector, they provide opportunities to invest more in machinery and equipment, adopt new technology and processes, increase productivity, diversify markets, and access more R&D to bring innovation from the lab to the marketplace.
In addition, I recently launched the $200-million Advanced Manufacturing Fund. The fund, delivered across Ontario, will promote continued growth of the province’s advanced manufacturing sector by supporting large-scale, transformative manufacturing activities.
All of this programming, along with the right partnerships, will accelerate business growth and innovation, increase exports, attract more investment, and create new jobs. Although I can’t have you all over for dinner, I believe these factors will combine to create the best recipe for the long-term economic prosperity of the food and beverage processing sector in southern Ontario. This, in turn, will contribute to the economic prosperity of this country.
For more information, I invite you to visit the Agency’s website at www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca or call the toll-free number at 1-866-593-5505. For more general information on federal business-related services and programs, I encourage you to visit Canada Business Ontario at www.cbo-eco.gc.ca or call 1-888-576-4444.