Ottawa is extending an auto sector fund that provides a $250-million pool of investment cash over five years for car companies and their suppliers. Prime Minister Harper said the Automotive Innovation Fund (AIF) has helped Canada’s auto sector become more competitive and that Canada’s automotive industry is a post-recession economic success story.
The AIF was established in the 2008 federal budget. It requires companies to invest their own money to access government funds, which must be paid back in full. Large-scale research and development projects valued at more than $75 million are considered.
The Oakville Chamber welcomes the federal government’s commitment to the continuation of the AIF. The fund will help make possible research and development into innovative practices and products in the auto industry. It is through innovation that Canada will remain competitive on a global scale.
Canadian Chamber President Perrin Beatty said the Canadian Chamber identified the top 10 barriers to competitiveness and three of the 10 barriers reference investment and development in innovation. Addressing an Ottawa audience in November, Mr. Beatty commented, “While we have been doing marginally better each year, our competitors are outpacing us. Our share of global trade is shrinking and our ability to compete, even in our own market, is declining. And, when we can’t compete, factories close, people lose their homes, and governments can’t afford to provide public services.”
A thriving auto industry represents the cornerstone of manufacturing activity in Ontario and creates essential economic activity.
The chamber has had a busy couple of months. In addition to our regular events and our Halton Economic Update with Regional Chair Gary Carr, the chamber was very fortunate to host a roundtable discussion with Jim Dickmeyer, the new US Consul General in Toronto. We had a candid and informative discussion on the state of Canada-US relations heading into 2013.
Our conversation in Ford Canada’s executive boardroom covered a wide range of topics, with the Consul General getting things started with an overview of two key cross-border agreements. Representatives from Ford, CN, Tim Hortons, PWC, Cooper Construction, Caldwell Bankers, Wendy’s, Whole Foods, Feltmate Delibato Heagle LLP, UTS, Suncor, Genworth and Tandet Transportation were actively involved in the discussion that followed.
The first agreement that the Consul General touched on was Beyond The Borders, a long-term partnership signed in 2011 that is building on a perimeter approach to security and economic competitiveness. As Jim described, this means working together not just at the border, but beyond the border to enhance our joint security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods and services.
“We’re keeping more bad guys out and getting the good guys across borders faster,” said Jim.
This border-related activity, in turn, complements work that officials are undertaking under the aegis of the Regulatory Cooperation Council. This is an agreement designed to better align the regulatory approaches of our two countries where possible.
“We’re trying to get rid of death-from-a-thousand-cuts that comes from having so many different cross-border regulations,” explained Jim.
Transportation was a key theme of the question and answer session that followed Jim’s opening 10 minutes. Chamber members asked the Consul General for his comments on the new bridge in Windsor and about technicalities affecting shippers.
With the new year in full swing, the chamber is honoured to have once again hosted the RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast on Jan 23. RBC Senior VP & Chief Economist Craig Wright and Ipsos Reid Senior VP Ray Kong provided a 2013 economic forecast and things to keep in mind when going to market. We will have more for you on this event in our next edition.
March is fast approaching and that means time for the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence (OABE) Gala on March 27. The nominees, chamber staff and OABE judges are hard at work completing the list of this year’s finalists. As always, we are overwhelmed with the calibre of nominees. Please mark this date in your calendar – more information to come!
We welcome your feedback on these and all of our events. Please do not hesitate to contact us.