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2013 Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo

August 08, 2013
Abbotsford, British Columbia

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Michelle Rempel
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Funding Announcement

Corresponding Documents: News Release | Photo Gallery

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Mark (MP Strahl), and Dan Stefanson (ADSE Steering Committee).

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here today at the Abbotsford Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo.

I'm happy to be joined here today by:

  • His Worship Bruce Banman, (Mayor of Abbotsford);

As a western Canadian, I'm keenly aware of the importance of the aerospace, defense, marine and security industries to economic growth in the West.

The Abbotsford Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo is the type of event that is important to developing western Canadian businesses.

Canadian companies working in the sectors represented here are robust and dynamic, known for their innovation and success throughout the world.

That's why our Government has invested $65,000 to support this year's Expo. The series of workshops, presentations, business-to-business and business-to-government meetings, and networking receptions taking place here are sure to establish productive new relationships and grow existing ones.

I understand that 350 people registered for the Expo and that there will be an estimated 200 face-to-face meetings between western Canadian companies and multinational firms in Abbotsford during the event. I am confident these meetings will set the stage for exciting business opportunities.

You're here today to encourage growth and business opportunities in your industry and that directly aligns with the top priority of our Government: job creation for Canadians and ensuring the long-term health of the Canadian economy.

Our Government's Economic Action Plan is squarely focused on creating high-quality jobs and helping businesses succeed.

In fact, since the end of the global economic downturn in 2009, Canada's economy has created over 1 million net new jobs. This places Canada's economy among the strongest in the G7.

But our work continues, and we must keep in mind the importance of the West to the Canadian economy and the creation of jobs.

Our Government knows that a strong western economy means a strong Canadian economy. Rather than develop economic policies that pit one region against another, we are proud to help create the conditions to help western Canadian businesses succeed.

In 2011, Western Canada accounted for 34% of Canada's real gross domestic product (GDP) by industry and 40% of Canada's exported goods. Canada's four western provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – are expected to lead national growth in coming years.

Western Canadian provinces have among the lowest corporate tax rates in the G7 and a 3.5% to 15.8% tax advantage over comparable U.S. states. Our lower taxes and business costs, innovation, and strategic location – not to mention a growing, educated, skilled and diverse population of over 10.5 million people – make Western Canada a dynamic place to do business.

We know that diversity in the western economy is vital to Canada's long term economic health and this is why we want to encourage the growth of the aerospace, defense, marine and security industries.

The western Canadian aerospace industry alone supports the employment of nearly 27,000 people and generates over $3 billion in annual revenues, contributing more than $2.5 billion to Canada's GDP.

Strengthening these industries contributes to a stronger economy by creating high-quality jobs, supporting world-class innovation and helping to integrate Canadian companies from across the country into global supply chains.

These industries are further strengthened by the development of partnerships between government, industry associations, academia and other key stakeholders. Partnerships that will be a significant result of this Expo.

The West is a proven market leader, with cutting-edge technology, a strong R&D infrastructure, and a highly skilled, educated and specialized workforce. The Expo provides the opportunity for Canadian and international partners to come together to capitalize on the West's knowledge and expertise.

Our Government is addressing some key issues facing Canada's economy, including attending to the skilled labour shortage, gaining market access for Canadian products, and bridging the research & development gap with innovation investments.

Economic Action Plan 2013 continues to help businesses succeed in the global economy by providing a variety of services and programs, such as tax relief, hiring credits and venture capital programs.

And we've provided help for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing incentives for contractors to meet their Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy responsibilities by partnering with innovative Canadian SMEs, building enduring business relationships and fostering high-quality opportunities that will last years beyond the initial commitment.

At Western Economic Diversification, our goal is to let the world know that the West Means Business.

We work to improve the long-term economic competitiveness of the West and the quality of life of its citizens by supporting a wide range of initiatives targeting inter-related project activities. We do this by:

  • Accelerating innovation and providing support for late-stage R&D activities;
  • Supporting advocacy activities that expand market opportunities for western Canadian businesses;
  • Collaborating with organizations and other levels of government to enhance business productivity and improve small businesses' access to information, training, business advisory services and capital; and
  • Helping communities to advance their economies, adjust to changing and challenging economic circumstances, and recover from depressed economic circumstances through infrastructure programs like the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).

By making strategic investments to advance the western Canadian aerospace, defense, marine and security industries, WD works to ensure that Western Canada continues to excel and maintain its competitive edge on the world stage.

Additionally, the Government of Canada's Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) Policy is helping Canadian companies gain access to high quality business opportunities by leveraging Canada's military procurement.

For example, in May, we provided over $500,000 to the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) to support stronger western Canadian involvement in aerospace events around the world, enhancing market access and supply chain development opportunities for western small- and medium-sized enterprises.

And this investment is paying off. In June, AIAC coordinated a western Canadian Pavilion at the International Paris Air Show. I was pleased to learn that Viking Air signed a deal worth at least $26 million at the Air Show,1 which tells me that the strength of our western-based companies is being recognized internationally.

WD is also ensuring that Western Canada's aerospace industry has the infrastructure it needs to conduct high-value R&D. In 2012, my department invested over $5 million in WestCaRD to broaden and advance the aerospace industry and manufacturing cluster in Manitoba by developing new aerospace technologies.

In my role leading WD, I plan to continue raising awareness to companies at home and abroad of the incredible opportunities that exist here. These efforts will help position Western Canada for long-term growth and job creation.

Today, I am exactly where I want to be. I'm meeting business owners and stakeholders who are strengthening the West. I'm seeing industry leaders come together to discuss not only opportunities, but also challenges and obstacles and ways that they can be overcome.

This kind of communication and collaboration is critical. If there's one thing I've learned over my years in business, it's that the more time you spend listening to the people you represent, the more you are able to take that feedback and use it to shape good decisions.

I would like to thank the City of Abbotsford for their work in planning and hosting this Expo and all of you here today. Let's continue to work together to build our strength in the aerospace, defense, marine and security industries.

By hosting and attending trade shows and other networking forums like this one, and by building partnerships to grow businesses and maintain our competitive edge, we are showing the world that Canada's West Means Business.


[1] http://www.timescolonist.com/business/viking-air-signs-another-plane-deal-in-paris-1.326587