Archived — Address to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce

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Speaking Points

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Cambridge, Ontario

February 18, 2014

Check against delivery

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, friends and guests. Thank you for the warm welcome. C'est un grand plaisir d'être ici avec vous aujourd'hui.

I am pleased to be with you today to outline some of the key points of Economic Action Plan 2014 as presented by my colleague, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, just last week. As business owners, Chamber members and entrepreneurs, I know that I am speaking to an audience that has a vested interest in the success of our economy.

Folks, I am proud of the success that our Government has had in steering the Canadian economy through some rough waters, to the point where we are now the envy of many G-7 countries. Canadians have trusted us with the economy, and we have delivered.

Consider the following:

  • The Canadian economy has experienced one of the best performances among the G-7 countries in terms of both output and job creation.
  • Since the end of the global recession in July 2009, employment has increased by over 1 million—the strongest job growth among G-7 countries.
  • Canadian families in all income groups have seen increases of about 10 percent or more in their after-tax, after-transfer income since 2006.
  • This year, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in Bloomberg's ranking of the most attractive destinations for business.
  • Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G-7 over this year and next.

These are impressive statistics, but we are not about to sit back on our heels and consider the job done.

We know that we are not immune to external economic developments. Given the ongoing uncertain global economic environment—especially in Europe and the United States—it is crucial for the Government to continue to pursue the objectives that have underpinned the Economic Action Plan since its inception in 2009, namely job creation and economic growth, while remaining on track for balanced budgets.

That's why Economic Action Plan 2014 presents Canadians with a targeted and prudent plan that builds on our record of strong, sound and consistent fiscal management. It is a low-tax plan to promote jobs and economic growth, while supporting Canadian families and communities.

  • It helps Canadians obtain the skills and qualifications they need to get jobs in high-demand fields.
  • It helps manufacturers and businesses succeed in the global economy by enhancing the conditions for creating and growing businesses, including reduced tax compliance burdens.
  • It continues to strengthen infrastructure for better roads, bridges and public transit in cities and communities across Canada.
  • And it invests in world-class research and innovation to help ensure new ideas are developed and transferred from laboratories into the marketplace.

We are targeting some of our most vulnerable areas in job creation with support for apprenticeship training. For the first time, young people interested in apprenticeship training will be able to access student loans in the same way as college or university students, and those loans are interest free.

Improvements to the Youth Employment Strategy will align it with the evolving realities of the job market. This process will also ensure federal investments in youth employment provide young Canadians with real-life work experience in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.

But while we are investing in priority areas, we will not waver from our steadfast commitment to fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget.

Balancing the budget and reducing debt will provide a host of benefits that go well beyond black ink on the bottom line. It will free up taxpayer dollars that might otherwise be spent on interest costs, to lower taxes and invest in the priorities of Canadians. It will help to keep interest rates low, instilling confidence in consumers and investors, whose dollars spur economic growth and job creation.

Now let me connect this plan to the work that my Agency, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario—or FedDev Ontario as we are more commonly known—has been doing in southern Ontario, and the Cambridge- Waterloo region specifically.

Since becoming Minister of State for FedDev Ontario in 2009, I have been engaging with Canadians across southern Ontario and listening to stakeholders, as well as my fellow caucus members, outlining their ideas and concerns about the economy, and identifying opportunities to help improve the economic prosperity of the region.

We have put this feedback into action. In the last four years, FedDev Ontario has committed more than $1.1 billion, resulting in partnerships with more than 5,300 organizations and over $1.5 billion in additional leveraged investments from almost exclusively non-government sources to support businesses, organizations and communities in southern Ontario.

Right here in the Cambridge-Waterloo region, FedDev Ontario has funded 105 projects for over $105.4 million, leveraging nearly $133 million in additional investments.

Let me give you a few specific examples:

  • Centra Industries Incorporated, on Cherry Blossom Road in Preston, received over $2.3 million for the expansion of production lines;
  • eSentire, just south of the 401 on Pinebush Road, received $987,000 to enhance their existing technology platform for cyber security;
  • exactEarth received nearly $2.5 million for immediate expansion into a surging market for real-time global data services;
  • And, over the past two years, we have injected over $2.5 million into the Waterloo region for infrastructure improvements through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund. In Cambridge, the Galt Little Theatre was the recipient of over $49,000 for repairs to its location, and the Galt Arena Gardens was able to replace dehumidifiers with an investment of $200,000.

Our efforts so far have put thousands of people in the region back to work while improving the economic climate for innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration.

And with renewed funding outlined in Economic Action Plan 2013 of $920 million, we are now taking FedDev Ontario's efforts to date to the next level. In December, we launched the Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives, or SOPIs, representing a total of more than $530 million in available funding.

It is my hope that this new programming will help our region face the economic realities I've heard so many of you talk about: increasing globalization, fierce competition, constantly evolving technology and shifting consumer demands.

Each initiative builds on what we've done so far, and responds to a specific challenge we are facing based on extensive research regarding the current economic landscape.

Beginning April 1st, 2014, and over the next five years, the SOPIs will help to retain, attract and grow businesses in southern Ontario to make the region globally competitive, by:

  • Investing in Business Innovation;
  • Investing in Business Growth and Productivity;
  • Investing in Commercialization Partnerships; and
  • Investing in Regional Diversification.

The SOPIs will improve southern Ontario's economic prosperity, attract more investment, create new jobs, accelerate business growth and help strengthen our economy now and for the future.

In addition, I recently launched the $200-million Advanced Manufacturing Fund in Ontario. The Fund will promote continued growth of Ontario's advanced manufacturing sector by supporting large-scale, transformative manufacturing activities.

It will increase productivity.

It will lead to greater economic output.

It will create cutting-edge companies, driven by innovation.

It will establish clusters or supply chains.

It will foster collaboration between the private sector, research institutions and post-secondary institutions.

The Agency is also investing $48 million for the renewal of the Eastern Ontario Development Program, which will promote strategic economic development in eastern Ontario that will have a long-term impact in the region.

A strong Canada depends on a prosperous southern Ontario that is home to communities that attract investment; highly productive, innovative businesses; and opportunities to expand and diversify markets at home and globally.

As Minister of State for FedDev Ontario, I look forward to seeing all of the possibilities that will come to light as a result of these new opportunities. And with that, I'd like to start the roundtable. Each person can take a couple minutes to share their thoughts on the budget and if time permits once everyone has spoken, we can have a discussion.

Thank you, merci.

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