TORONTO – The Province of Ontario needs to protect its automotive manufacturing sector by increasing investment in advanced production technology, updating regulations, and expanding up small and medium-sized businesses, a top economic development official says.
Speaking in Toronto at the Automotive News Canada Congress today, Giles Gherson, deputy minister for economic development and growth, said the province’s investment in advanced machinery and equipment has slowed to the point where it is no longer one of the top 10 global regions in that field.
“That’s affecting our competitiveness – our output per worker – and our prosperity,” Gherson said.
Gherson pointed to Ontario’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, a federal effort to connect technology companies with the automotive sector, as one way for the automotive sector to regain its “competitive edge.” The federal government has pledged $230 million towards the effort.
Gherson said the province needs to help to “scale up” small and medium-sized companies into large businesses.
“We don’t have nearly as many of them as peer jurisdictions,” Gherson said, adding the “scale matters” for long-term survival.
He also said the province remains wary of Canada’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. If partner nations do not remove non-tariff trade barriers that affect Canadian companies, the federal government may need to compensate affected businesses. Whether the agreement will have true reciprocity is “an open question from our perspective,” Gherson said.