By Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
The year 2020 has taught us all some valuable lessons, both from a personal and professional standpoint. People, communities, businesses, and all levels of government have had to adjust and develop innovative solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Navigating this ‘new normal’ has certainly had its challenges, but it’s also revealed a multitude of opportunities.
It has become clear that innovation is more important than ever, and bold ideas are what will define our collective future. As global organizations begin to rebuild, recover, and reimagine the next phase of their business, many of them are looking for new places to expand and invest.
Ontario’s deep pool of talent and rich ecosystem of companies and innovation centers will help the world address the challenges we face today and tomorrow as we tackle life after the pandemic.
Ontario: Canada’s Economic Engine
Ontario is a leader in automotive and aerospace production.
Much of what we have built in the province – our roads, our schools, our hospitals, our standard of living – can be traced to the wealth generated by the auto industry. Today, Ontario is home to five auto assemblers, 700+ parts suppliers and 500+ tool, die, and mould makers.
Global giants such as GM, Honda, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and truck manufacturer Hino, operate in the province because in Ontario, they have access to a high-quality workforce, award-winning manufacturing facilities, and a collaborative R&D ecosystem.
These advantages are only part of the reason Ontario has been one of the leading car producers in North America over the past decade.
As our world moves into a new era of emerging technologies, Ontario’s automotive scene is constantly evolving to keep pace. The province is leading the charge and making waves in the autonomous vehicle space.
Between Detroit-Windsor and Ottawa lies a 500-mile corridor of automotive, connected and autonomous vehicle technology, and several artificial intelligence clusters. Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network has committed to providing $85 million in funding over the next five years to discover the next breakthrough in autonomous vehicle technologies.
Likewise, Ontario’s aerospace manufacturing industry is reaching new heights.
Ontario is a place where global aerospace giants expand their operations and home-grown businesses produce quality parts and innovative services.
Ontario manufacturers are part of the global supply chain for virtually every passenger aircraft in the world, and the aerospace industry works closely with academia to develop and commercialize new products and technology.
Our aerospace sector directly employs over 25,000 people and an additional 19,000 indirectly. Plus, Ontario is home to 16 universities that offer engineering degrees and over 40 aerospace-related post-secondary programs. The result? Aerospace talent is both plentiful and highly skilled in Ontario.
While our traditional industries are evolving to meet contemporary demands, Ontario is also a place where the new economy has emerged in force.
A Breakthrough Era
We have seen an acceleration in innovation over the last few years, and the province’s diverse technology sectors continue to thrive.
The province is home to the second-largest IT cluster in North America, with over 20,000 firms, including leaders such as Amazon, IBM, Google, Cisco and Shopify.
With such a diverse ecosystem, it’s no surprise that globally-recognized tech companies also conduct R&D in Ontario.
The province is known as a hotbed for artificial intelligence (AI). Modern AI was first pioneered in Toronto, Ontario over 30 years ago and is the birthplace of ‘neural nets’.
Since then, Canada has become the first country in the world to develop a national strategy for artificial intelligence, with Ontario at the center of it all. There are currently over 300 firms in the province that dedicate their work to the field of AI—and Ontario is home to the world-renowned Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which focuses on research excellence in deep learning.
In September 2018 alone, Ontario attracted over $1 billion dollars in investment into its AI sector by tech giants that include Intel, Microsoft, and Uber—all while tech job creation in Toronto continues to outpace the Bay Area, Seattle, and New York City combined.
But, Ontario isn’t only home to large corporations. The province is ripe for start-up development, with over 5,000 of them along the Toronto-Waterloo corridor alone.
Welcoming Global Talent
There are few places in the world more diverse than Ontario, and in the wake of H1B Visa challenges, the province continues to be a solution to those in need.
We have welcomed people from over 150 countries, and over 200 languages are spoken across the province. In fact, Ontario is one of the most popular hubs for global talent in all of Canada, attracting almost 45 percent of all new immigrants.
Many immigrants have chosen to take advantage of Ontario’s many government programs that ensure workers and their families are taken care of during career transitions.
For example, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program allows foreign workers, international students, and others with the right skills, experience, and education to apply for a nomination for permanent residence. Likewise, Canada’s Global Skills Strategy offers work permits in just 10 business days. Open work permits for spouses and study permits for dependents are also processed in two weeks. This way, families can stay together.
Ontario is brimming with premier tech talent and we are fiercely proud of our talented people – both homegrown and transplanted. The people of Ontario are our number one advantage.
Not to mention Ontario’s 44 incredible public universities and colleges produce nearly 50,000 STEM grads per year, and 69 percent of Ontarians aged 25-64 have a post-secondary education—that’s higher than any OECD country.
In the Heart of it All
Doing business in Ontario means being ‘Open for Business’ to the rest of the world. Our central location in the heart of North America makes us an easy access point for global sales and expansion.
Only a short distance to major U.S. hubs, Ontario has access to more than 187 million consumers within a day’s drive of the Greater Toronto Area. And with Free Trade agreements in 49 countries, it’s never been easier to grow your business in the province.
As we move toward a post COVID-19 world, global collaboration has never been so important, and Ontario, Canada is at the centre of innovation.
As the needs of businesses continue to change rapidly, so does Ontario’s approach to facing the challenges impacting the economic landscape. That’s why our government has worked hard to introduce a new investment attraction agency called Invest Ontario.
Invest Ontario will be a ‘one stop shop’ for businesses and investors to discover what others from around the province and globe have already realized—that Ontario is a top-tier destination for investment and strategic business growth.
Our new agency will drive greater economic growth, support strategic domestic firms, and attract business from around the world, while initially focusing on three strategic sectors where the province has a global competitive advantage—advanced manufacturing, life sciences and technology.
We know that strong organizations move at the speed of business, and here in Ontario, we want to harness that strength and cultivate the exceptional.
From a diverse array of sectors, a talent-pool that is second to none, and a multi-cultural environment that welcomes immigrants from around the world, there’s never been a better time to think Ontario.