Economic Strategy - Advanced Manufacturing Table

Leveraging rapid technological change in advanced manufacturing to strengthen Canada’s manufacturing sector.


Charles Deguire, Kinova Robotics


  • Rhonda Barnet, Steelworks Design Inc.
  • Luc Dionne, Tekna Plasma and Powders
  • Sean Donnelly, ArcelorMittal Dofasco
  • Cynthia Garneau, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd.
  • Mike Greenley, MDA
  • Mark Kirby, S2G Bio Chemicals
  • Tessa Myers, Rockwell Automation
  • Marc Parent, CAE,
  • Mojdeh Poul, 3M Canada
  • Nancy Southern, ATCO
  • Susan Uthayakumar, Schneider Electric Canada
  • Rob Wildeboer, Martinrea International Inc.

Federal representatives

Sounding board members

  • Frederic Bastien
  • Peng-Sang Cau
  • Michel Farley
  • Ryan Gariepy
  • Sean McCormick
  • Martin Petrak
  • Kay Riggs
  • Eugene Suyu


October 11, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


On October 11, 2017, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table held its first meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. Members gathered to discuss their vision for the manufacturing sector in Canada and set the forward workplan to unlock economic growth.

What we talked about

  1. Each member spoke to why they agreed to take time away from their businesses to join the Advanced Manufacturing Table. Some of what was said: I hope to position Canada so we are ready to meet future global demand; I joined to move the dial on investment in technology in Canada; I joined to develop a policy that is going to help Canadian companies compete globally, based on innovation and value.
  2. There was broad agreement that the mandate of the Advanced Manufacturing Table is to focus on the Canadian manufacturing sector and how to grow it through the adoption of advanced manufacturing processes. Access to technology is going to be important for our businesses to stay strong in the future.
  3. Members discussed how to frame a vision for manufacturing in Canada. The conversation is ongoing, but a preliminary consensus is that growth can be achieved by bringing value to customers through innovative and cost competitive products and services.
  4. All agreed to organize the upcoming program of work around three key themes: attracting global mandates; scaling up; and accelerating adoption of advanced manufacturing technology. Three champions stepped forward to drive the agenda on each theme.
  5. Each theme will be explored from the perspective of solutions tailored to the firm life cycle: different actions may be needed for start-ups, scale-ups and large firms. We will also ask: how can we accelerate the distribution of knowledge, so that we can leap forward based on lessons others have learned? how can we de-risk investments in innovation and increase access to capital? what are the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow, and how can we equip Canadians to develop them?  

What we'll do next

  • Thematic champions will undertake deep dives on the three key themes.
  • All members will seek opportunities to engage with their communities and gather input to the Table's discussions.
  • The next meeting will take place in November 2017.

I am a very proud Canadian, and my family has been privileged to work in Canada and grow our business here. My hope is that together we will identify measurable actions that we can all be held accountable to achieve.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, October 11, 2017
November 14, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


On November 14, 2017, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table held its second meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. The conversation explored how to attract, expand and retain global mandates, and also how to unlock Canadian talent in advanced manufacturing, particularly by growing the participation of women in the sector.

What we talked about

  1. The conversation began with a tour de table in which CEOs spoke to their personal experience of what it would take to grow their business. It was quickly agreed that one of the key enablers of technology adoption and growth in manufacturing – including in Canada - is the workforce. In particular, strong skilled trades and engineers are a Canadian competitive advantage. However, there are shortages which create growth bottlenecks. The discussion explored best practice models for developing work-ready talent, both from within organizations and through post-secondary programs. It also spoke to the image of manufacturing today: are manufacturing firms able to express their purpose and vision in a way that resonates with the next generation? Is there a clear pathway to a career in manufacturing?
  2. There was a focussed discussion on the importance of making manufacturing in Canada a global investment destination, The Invest in Canada Hub presented the innovative model of client service that they are developing. Ray Tanguay also shared lessons learned from his work in the automotive sector. The presentations sparked a wider discussion about the criteria global firms use to make decisions to expand or continue their footprint in Canada. It was noted that both the Government and Canadian industry must be better at supporting domestic technologies and innovations, by being a first customer and early adopter, to increase efficiency and ultimately drive down production costs to become more globally competitive. These insights will continue to be explored and refined, and will be discussed further at future meetings.
  3. Members heard about the findings of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ study “Women in Manufacturing”: women make up about 48% of the Canadian workforce, but only 28% of jobs in manufacturing, a ratio that has not changed significantly over the past 30 years. However, research shows that women working in manufacturing are happy with their career choice and would overwhelmingly recommend it to a female friend. The study has proposed a number of concrete steps that could help grow women’s participation in the manufacturing workforce.

What we'll do next

  • Refine and elaborate a bold vision for Canadian manufacturing and ambitious targets
  • Table members will undertake a number of broader engagement initiatives in the coming months to gather input from a larger sectoral audience.
  • The next meeting will take place in December 2017

We have something to sell here. But, to attract investment, we can’t be the same, we always have to be clearly better.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, November 14, 2017
December 18, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


The Advanced Manufacturing Table met Monday, December 18, for its third meeting, a half-day videoconference focused on skills and talent development, a key horizontal theme identified at both previous Table meetings– and featured presentations from Siemens Canada; Yves Landry Foundation; Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec; and Colleges and Institutes Canada.

What we talked about

  1. The introductory remarks took stock of the work completed to date including a summary of the All-Chairs meeting. The Table will continue to work collaboratively on the vision, targets and pipeline proposals with the goal of building them out ahead of the next meeting in January, 2018.
  2. Looking to build on previous meeting's topics, around the availability of skilled workforce: both skilled trades and engineering, and the number of bottlenecks (shortage of apprenticeship positions; retirement of skilled trade workforce; public perception of careers in manufacturing), there were presentations from four organizations focused on building manufacturing skills. ‎The Yves Laundry Foundation co-funds training and worker re-training (50% share with the company) in Ontario to achieve measurable improvement in innovation processes and technology integration in manufacturing; Siemens Canada has implemented the SCETA program (Siemens Canada Engineering and Technology Academy) that provides third year engineering and engineering technology students with the educational and professional foundation required for successful careers in the company through their work integrated learning focused on Industry 4.0; Centre de recherche industrielle du Québecprovides companies with the information, know-how, and services needed to excel in developing distinctive products (Industry 4.0 including Complex automation, Robotics, Additive manufacturing (3D), Quality control); and Colleges and Institutes Canada helps to customize corporate training delivery for post-secondary institutions.
  3. Discussion  focused on  bottlenecks that limit the reach of skilling programs, and there was broad consensus: oversubscription: the demand being higher than the availability of funding leaves hundreds on waiting lists; challenges faced by small firms in rural or mid-sized urban environments, for whom distance is a significant barrier to access to training ; need to educate both those on the shop floor and those managing process renewal; and  information gap:  many good potential options for training exist, but information  not centrally available ‎and application processes can be complex and discouraging
  4. ‎To build on the discussion, there will be more work done to consolidate information on existing skills and training programs and to develop a pipeline of potential recommendations.

What we'll do next

  • The Table is scheduled to hold two engagement sessions in January including the 10th in Montreal and the 12th in Toronto. The engagement days will include industry round tables as well as meetings with the provinces and key stakeholders.
  • The fourth Table meeting will take place on January 17 with a focus on growing firms to scale.

Not only will it be important to train our upcoming and new employees, but equally important is to train executives and business leaders who will be adopting industry 4.0.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, December 18, 2017
January 17, 2018 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


On January 17, 2018, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table held its fourth meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. The discussion centered on how to support Canadian manufacturing firms as they grow to scale.

What we talked about

  1. The conversation began with an update on two recent engagement roundtables in Montreal, on January 10, and Burlington, on January 12, 2018. Table members heard that the demand exceeds the supply of skilled labour; that investment decisions are largely driven by baseline competitiveness (for example the cost of labour, utilities, etc.) and time-lags in program approvals (for example the time it takes for plant expansion approvals) are not currently delivered at the speed that firms require. Table members also met champions of initiatives that have been developed to respond to these challenges.
  2. The Table had previously identified growing firms to scale as a key theme. In this context, Global Affairs Canada spoke about the supports given by the Trade Commissioner Service to Canadian firms growing by accessing export markets. As part of this discussion, the Table talked about how to build the “Made in Canada” brand, through government and industry collaboration to promote Canada as a talented, innovative, open and diverse manufacturing destination. There was also a discussion about how to best build the knowledge base needed by firms to grow through entry to global markets.
  3. Skills education and training that prepare Canadians for future work, continue to be a key theme, and the Business Council of Canada spoke to their initiative, “The Business/Higher Education Roundtable” (BHER) The multi-sector initiative is made up of 14 CEOs and 14 university and college Presidents who talk about how to best prepare young Canadians for the changing world of work. BHER has a bold target that every student in the country should have at least one work placement over the course of their educational program. The Table was interested in this model for multi-stakeholder collaboration, especially considering the importance of sharing a common vision around the growth of Canadian talent.
  4. ‎Members also heard from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, who spoke about venture capital investment in the innovation ecosystem. There was consensus around the table that understanding the financial opportunities around raising capital, especially for firms looking to scale, is an essential part of the Canadian business leader tool box.

What we'll do next

  • Refine and elaborate vision for Canadian manufacturing in 2025 and beyond including measurable targets.
  • Release the Advanced Manufacturing Interim Report.
  • The next meeting will take place in February 2018, with a focus on unlocking the barriers to the adoption of key technologies.

We need the right information at the right time in order to grow rapidly, whether we are talking access to Government programs or existing best industrial practices

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, January 17, 2018
February 16, 2018 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


On February 16, 2018, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table held its fifth meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. The meeting included a discussion of how to incent the adoption of advanced technology and revisited tools to unlock growth on other key themes: growing firms to scale; attracting and retaining global mandates; and skills and talent development.

What we talked about

  1. The Table heard an assessment of Canadian manufacturing’s global rankings on technology adoption, particularly as relates to Industrie 4.0 and the Internet of Things.
  2. Digital manufacturing has a strong positive impact on productivity, lower maintenance costs, and time to market. Firms which score higher on digital adoption also tend to have higher growth and be more integrated into export markets.
  3. The Table explored global best practices in developing national strategies for digital manufacturing. These include development of demonstration and testing sites, sectoral work integrated learning collaborations between firms and post-secondary institutions, firm-level readiness assessments, and peer to peer knowledge sharing networks.
  4. ‎The Table spent part of the day workshopping its insights and potential proposals on how to increase investment in Canada by global firms, develop a diverse and future-ready workforce, supporting Canadian firms to accelerate their growth and reach scale.

What we'll do next

  • The Table will continue to refine their vision for Canadian manufacturing in 2025, and anchor this in ambitious and measurable targets.
  • The next meeting will take place in March 2018, with a focus on prioritizing proposed policy ideas based on impact.

Adopting key technologies in manufacturing will re-shape our sector but will require a fully integrated and engaged supply chain effort.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, February 16, 2018
Date modified: