The 2014 federal budget will provide Ontario’s battered manufacturing sector with more than $1 billion in spending over the next two years to help the auto industry and build a new bridge to the U.S. at Windsor, Ont.
The budget called for spending $631 million over the next two years to help build a new Detroit-Windsor crossing. “Our investment in the new Windsor-Detroit crossing means Canadian goods will get to market faster, allowing businesses to grow, expand trade, and help secure a prosperous future,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.
The commitment includes $470 million in new funding and is up from a plan to spend $25 million over three years in last year’s budget to help advance the project. The Windsor-Detroit trade corridor handles roughly 30 per cent of Canada-U.S. trade by truck, the government estimates. Delays in crossing the border are a serious problem for the auto industry, which relies on the timely delivery of parts and other supplies to keep their production lines moving.
Carmakers and auto parts manufacturers in Southwestern Ontario also stand to benefit from an additional $500 million over two years being added to the Automotive Innovation Fund, a commitment that drew praise from the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA). “APMA is pleased to support the Government of Canada’s 2014 Federal Budget relating to an additional $500 million over two years towards innovation and new investments in Canada's auto industry included in Economic Action Plan 2014,” the Toronto-based organization said. “This announcement follows the recommendations put forth by the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, A Call to Action II.” APMA president Steve Rodgers also noted that “securing investments for new and existing OEM production facilities is the most efficient method to sustaining and supporting growth in the automotive supply chain in Canada. This support will assist Canadian assembly and related suppliers in achieving its target of 17-18% of NAFTA production.”
Also directed towards manufacturing, the budget creates a $100 billion Canada Apprentice Loan to give registered apprentices access to up to $4,000 worth of interest-free loans while they are taking part in technical training. The government expects the program to cost $25.2 million over the first two years and $15.2 million each year thereafter.
Along with APMA, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) both rallied behind the Conservative government’s budget, pointing to a number of measures as positive steps for an industry that has face increasing pressures in recent years. “Behind the headline news that the federal government plans to run a fiscal surplus in 2015, the budget contains a number of measures that will assist manufacturers and exporters in finding and training skilled workers, lower regulatory compliance costs and help win major new automotive investments in Canada,” CME president and CEO Jayson Myers said in a statement.