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RECAP: BCT Advanced Manufacturing Council holds first meeting

Drawing on best practices, Toronto Region Board of Trade has established the Business Council of Toronto (BCT), composed of an executive table of C-suite executives and three for-purpose partnership councils, each focused on a specific area of challenge and opportunity. This is a collaborative and pragmatic approach to tackling our region’s productivity challenge.

The BCT’s Advanced Manufacturing Council recently held its first meeting to discuss and begin actioning solutions to address the urgent need for a strategic effort to enhance Ontario’s manufacturing sector and right the ship on our growing productivity gap.

Attendees discussed the economic imperative behind investing in this high-growth sector, and the unique opportunity at hand in the region to grow this vital portion of our economy. In a nutshell, the productivity crisis has reached a point where we need to urgently take action to stage a turnaround.

While the manufacturing sector is poised for growth, it faces existential challenges threatening its ability to develop at pace and scale due to a lack of investment.

Council chair Frank Voss (left), President – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada

The manufacturing sector is a vital component of Ontario’s economy, contributing 11.5 per cent of the province’s GDP and employing over 800,000 workers. However, as council members discussed at the meeting, these metrics have been trending in the wrong direction.

  • Since 2000, the sector’s contribution to Ontario’s economy has shrunk by nearly half, while it has stayed the same in the U.S. 
  • Since 2002, the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the U.S. economy has grown by 40 per cent, yet in Ontario it has shrunk by 17 per cent. 
  • The sector’s labour productivity has also not kept pace with its U.S. counterparts, growing at only 0.6 per cent annually from 2000 to 2022, compared to 2.8 per cent in the U.S.

Council members agreed that the emergence of advanced manufacturing, characterized by its extensive and complex global value chains, presents an opportunity to reverse this trend, especially in Ontario. Advanced manufacturing has widespread benefits throughout the economy, as each segment of the chain contributes added value through related sectors like logistics, hardware development, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Investments in manufacturing productivity are thus central to enhancing overall economic resilience and growth.

Council members agreed there is an urgent need for a coordinated and strategic effort to enhance Ontario’s manufacturing sector. The Board’s research has identified five priority areas for unlocking growth in the advanced manufacturing sector:

Council chair Frank Voss, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada led the conversation on potential demonstration projects to create the proof needed to facilitate investment in this area. Over the coming months, the council will narrow down potential projects and advocacy streams to facilitate greater support for this growing sector. 

Members of the Advanced Manufacturing Council include:

  • Chair: Frank Voss, President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada
  • Mike Greenley, CEO, MDA Space Inc.
  • Joe Loparco, Co-President. AGS Automotive Systems and Tiercon Corp
  • Jayson Myers, CEO. NGen
  • Joris Myny, Senior Vice-President, Digital Industries. Siemens Canada Limited
  • Gary Rose, Executive Vice-President, Canada, Nuclear, AtkinsRéalis and President & CEO, Candu Energy Inc.
  • Mary Ann Wenzler, Vice-President, GTA West, BDC
  • Matt Williams, Vice-President, Supply Chain Transformation, Maple Leaf Foods
  • Special Advisor: Steve Carlisle, Former Executive Vice-President and President, North America, General Motors