Durham Economic Prosperity Committee

Minister Duguid Addresses Durham Business Leaders

April 1, 2016—The Greater Oshawa Chamber was honoured to have the Hon. Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure as the keynote speaker at its Annual General Meeting at the Oshawa Golf & Curling Club on March 30.

Mr. Duguid provided insight into the economy of Durham Region and Ontario specifically addressing the auto industry, the nuclear energy industry, jobs and infrastructure and stating he “sees this region as a crucial part of Ontario’s economy past, present and future.” See notes from his speech below.

Minister Duguid addresses Durham business leaders(Photo: left to right, event sponsor Yvonne Brady of Johnshon Inc., Doug Yates of General Motors, Chamber President Natalie Sims of Durham Medical, Minister Duguid, Chamber CEO Nancy Shawa, retired Chamber CEO Bob Malcolmson.)

Notes From Oshawa Speech March 30, 2016

I really do see this region as a crucial part of Ontario’s economy past, present and future.

When you think of the past, a large part of the Ontario success story was written right here in Oshawa—by generations of skilled, dedicated workers and forward-thinking entrepreneurs. People like Colonel Sam McLaughlin. Outside of Oshawa, most people don’t know that Sam’s family fortune was built on making carriages. At one time McLaughlin Carriage Works was the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn buggies and sleighs in the British Empire.

But in 1907, Sam took a huge risk and decided that the future was in….“horseless-carriages”.

I’m sure in his day...people thought he was crazy to shift his focus from the sure thing of the horse and buggy to the then disruptive automobile.

Good thing for all of us that he did—giving a jump start to the Canadian auto industry and laying the groundwork for the General Motors commitment to this city, this province and this country.

There’s no question that the auto sector has been a crucial component of the Durham economy since that time and a crucial component to the Ontario economic success story as well.

But as everyone in this room knows, Durham Region continues to be a very diverse and very advanced economy. Innovation flourishes here.

It’s no accident that FDi put Oshawa close to the top of its list of “Cities of the Future” in North America.

General Motors already knows it—that’s why it’s expanding its Global Innovation Centre, hiring 100 newly minted engineers. That Centre will drive GM’s efforts to be an industry leader in the connected car.  It will also develop important disruptive technology in light weighting and clean tech.

When it comes to talent—UOIT and Durham College are supplying our economy with bright young leaders with great ideas—UOIT’s research work on Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology is globally significant.

And then there’s the nuclear power industry... Durham Region has often been referred to as the heart of Ontario’s energy sector. The refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Plant is a $12.8-billion-dollar project—the largest single infrastructure project in the history of Canada. It will create almost 12,000 jobs every year—most of them right here in Durham Region. I believe our nuclear industry is crucial to our energy, economic and environmental goals. Nuclear power supplies half of our base load capacity in Ontario—it provides clean, reliable and affordable power- that is crucial to our social and economic well being.

There is no question, this sector has had some challenges, this past decade... The prolonged disentanglement and sell off of AECL,in my view, kept us on the sidelines for far too long.

Our nuclear sector is now back in growth mode.

Unprecedented innovation is being driven through our Government’s support of the refurbishment project at Darlington. The technology and know-how that evolve out of that project will be a huge global export opportunity for Ontario and Canada.

At the same time, countries like China and India, cannot meet their energy needs in an environmentally responsible way, without significant investments in nuclear power. This represents another huge opportunity world-wide for our nuclear industry. I sense a renaissance in this sector over the next few years and I believe it represents an enormous opportunity for future growth and job creation for our province and, in particular, Durham.

At the same time...I can’t help but think as well...about the significant impact our government’s infrastructure investments are having in this Region.

As we were driving here this morning, I took a good long look at the work on the new interchange for highway 412—the link between the 407 and the 401. It’s almost done, scheduled to open this spring. And we’re really proud to be pushing ahead with the final phase of the 407 extension from Harmony Road to Highway 35. This is a $1.2 billion dollar project that will not only support local construction jobs, but deliver an important new highway link for the Region. I have to give a big shout out to my friend Granville Anderson,the MPP for Durham, who has been a relentless champion for this project at Queen’s Park, as has Joe Dickson.

 So, if you ask me...when you consider our unprecedented investments in new highways...transit...the nuclear industry...and technology development...you would have to be pretty cynical not to be excited about the economic future of Oshawa and Durham Region.

That being said, we know there are challenges ahead.

We know there has yet to be a product mandate confirmed for our Oshawa GM plant. That creates uncertainty for those who work there.

I want you to know that working with our partners to stabilize the future of the Oshawa GM plant continues to be a key priority.

Together with my federal colleagues we’ve had some very productive and positive meetings with GM’s CEO Mary Barra and the head of GM Canada Stephen Carlisle and their team. At every single meeting they acknowledge the excellence of our Ontario operations—as well they should, given the baskets of quality awards our plants have won.

While, this all gives me reason to be optimistic. There is still uncertainty until a new mandate is confirmed.

So, I want you to know we are fully engaged in this effort. GM is engaged. So is the federal government and so is Unifor.

I do want to give a shout out to GM Canada President Steve Carlisle. I know he was out of town today, otherwise he would have joined us. Steve has been the most accessible and communicative leader at GM that I have ever had the privilege to work with. He’s working hard to build a strong future for the Oshawa plant. At the same time, he is very much a visionary in driving his company forward and making their Ontario operations a global centre for innovation leadership.

That’s exactly where all our companies need to be focused. That’s a passion for myself and a priority for our province.

You know, Ontario’s economy is in a pretty good place right now. Our economic development strategy has driven us to invest wisely in our talent, invest in record amounts in infrastructure and in creating dynamic climate for growth. UOIT and Durham College are great examples of the success of our investments in our talent.

Ontario now has the highest level of post-secondary attainment in the industrialized world.

Our budget announced free post-secondary tuition to students who come from lower income families. We are determined that money will never be a barrier to brilliance.

We need to be at our best to compete in this fiercely competitive global economy.

To achieve that...all Ontarians...regardless of income must have access to post-secondary education. Must have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

We will continue to invest in building competitive infrastructure at an unprecedented rate.

Our plan to invest a further 160-billion dollars over 12 years is the most significant infrastructure investment in Canadian history. It will create and support more than 110,000 jobs every year. It means making some tough decisions and choices in order to find the revenues to invest in infrastructure...but our Premier and our government are determined to make those investments.

Durham Region needs transportation networks, like the 407 and the 412 connection...to keep people and goods moving in a competitive way.

We need to keep building public transit, like the proposed extension of GO service to Bowmanville, that Granville Anderson and Joe Dixon never stop fighting for.

The results of our efforts are clear:

  • Ontario has been number one in North America in attracting foreign direct investment for two years in a row;
  • We are leading our country in economic growth and job creation. Our economy is expected to grow by 2.2% this year;
  • We have generated close to 600,000 net new jobs since the global recession;
  • Almost all of those jobs—95% of them—are full time;
  • 75% of them are in above average income sectors;
  • In today’s economy, we are doing well—but our eyes must be focussed on where the global economy is going—not where it is today;
  • Technological innovation is disrupting every sector of our economy at an unprecedented pace.

We must respond—we must lead.

Our new  $400M Business Growth Initiative will:

  • Accelerate our investments in driving innovation;
  • Help our small disruptive companies scale and grow;
  • And make Ontario an easier place to do business by reducing red tape.

Almost every day someone comes up with an idea that changes everything. I’m a big hockey fan, so let me share an analogy from our national game. When a soft-spoken teenager from Parry Sound with a brush cut and bow-legged skating style broke in with your Oshawa Generals, he turned the game on its ear. You know who I’m talking about.  There’s a public school named after him here in Oshawa.

Before Bobby Orr, defencemen stayed in their own zone—rarely rushed—and spent all their energy shutting down the other team’s stars. Through his transcendent talent, Orr proved that defencemen could be offensive—could open up the game into something more free-flowing.

He disrupted hockey in a way that was felt for generations and the game was never the same.

We want Ontario to be the Bobby Orr of world economies—skating rings around our competitors and finding new ways of scoring that no one imagined before. To get there, we have to be constantly upping our game.

The Oshawa Generals may have won more Memorial Cups than any other team, but every year there’s a new challenge. It’s the same in business.

Here’s something to think about:  it’s estimated that three-quarters of the firms listed on the S&P 500 index will be gone by the year 2027. That’s just 11 years away. Change—change at a dizzying pace—is a constant. We can’t just wait to adapt—we must lead.

Ontario is developing a reputation as a hotbed for innovation.

The Toronto area is rated 6th in the world in business start-ups.

Ontario is 2nd to the Silicon Valley in Information Communication Technology companies.

Those emerging companies are by their nature disruptors. And they’re getting noticed—noticed by giant multinationals who see their value and make them huge offers to seize their disruptive technology.

It’s a complement to our new entrepreneurs—but we would like to see more of these small firms grow into medium and large companies here in Ontario.

We’re taking measures in our recent budget to help start-ups gain easier access to capital right here in our province—so they can scale up—remain locally-owned—and continue to create good jobs and drive our growth.

To continue our leadership in innovation, we’re making important commitments like the $50-million dollars at the Perimeter Institute that will help Ontario lead the second quantum computing revolution.

We have a special focus on our traditional manufacturers. We want to help them to continue to adapt to continuous disruption. That’s why we’re investing $35-million dollars in the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium.

Smaller companies developing disruptive products need the applied research talent our colleges can provide. So, we’re creating a new 20-million-dollar fund to help smaller businesses link with our college research talent.

And we’re making a $15M investment to support our auto parts sector in their efforts to modernize and go global

While I’m excited about these new initiatives—when I talk to Ontario business leaders—their top concern continues to be red tape and regulatory burden. I know there is nothing that drives businesses crazier—while sapping our competitiveness—than unnecessary red tape.

A number of years ago we launched our Open For Business initiative. We’ve now become a global leader in reducing burdens, eliminating about 85,000 regulatory requirements. Ontario is leading local and national efforts to eliminate duplication and harmonize standards and regulations. And just in case, you think we are not serious about reducing regulatory burden, I recently signed a new law in Ontario that makes it mandatory for all future governments to report annually on their regulatory burden reduction results.

While we continue to be seen as a global best practice when it comes to reducing red tape, we remain thirsty for new ideas. In our efforts to search out new ideas, we came up with a new initiative, modeled after a Great Britain project. And so, today, I’m pleased to announce  a new project called the Red Tape Challenge.

Our current programs have worked well, but they tend to engage mostly senior business leaders and associations.  We wanted to reach out to our small business leaders and front line workers whose experience and ideas will be very valuable. And so, we are launching this new Red Tape Challenge—an online consultation platform that will reach out to all Ontarians who wish to participate. We will tackle red tape one sector at a time, starting with our auto parts sector, followed by our food processing sector. We will use technology in a crowd sourcing type of format to help make Ontario the easiest place in the world in which to do business. All of this is part of our new Business Growth Initiative.

Technological disruption is driving radical change in our world at an exponential speed—we can either lead that disruption  or we’ll get run over by it.

In Oshawa and across Ontario we choose to not only be ready for the disruptors—we need to be the disruptors. It’s not just about coping with technological change, it’s about driving it.

President John F. Kennedy had some thoughts about this subject. President Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are sure to miss the future.”

In Oshawa, Durham Region and throughout Ontario we will embrace change—we will seize the future and we will prevail and prosper in this new world economy.

Together, we will build an economy we will be proud to pass onto our kids and grand kids.

Thank you.

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