Ontario must act quickly to become more competitive and seize opportunities – Advantage Ontario

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Dalton McGuintyTHUNDER BAY – “Ontario must act quickly to become more competitive and seize opportunities in the new global economy or our prosperity will decline”, according to Advantage Ontario, the report of Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Council.

The world has changed. Emerging economies in Asia, South America and Africa are racing ahead, driving a new era of intense global competition. The Internet and information evolution
have made the world smaller, entrenching globalization. Developed economies, still recovering from the worst financial crisis and global recession since the 1930s, are reinventing
themselves to compete and win in the new global marketplace. Ontario is no exception – the status quo is not an option.

[pullquote] Ontario is no exception – the status quo is not an option [/pullquote]

The report identifies five key areas for action: going global; driving productivity growth; unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship; capitalizing on strength in talent and delivering smart, efficient government. Taken together, strong action on these economic priorities will propel Ontario’s businesses to the forefront of the new global economy. The Council believes that the province can improve its performance in each area, but that it will require stronger leadership and cooperation among all economic players – public and private sector alike – and a sustained commitment by Ontario firms to take risks, invest and enter the global stage.

“Leadership cannot come from government alone. Ensuring Ontario’s competitiveness and prosperity will require strong action from all sectors. Business will have a strong role to play,” said Gord Nixon, Chair of the Council.

Advantage Ontario makes 14 recommendations for addressing key action areas and transforming Ontario into a global economic success story. Among other recommendations, the report states that to compete and win on the world stage, Ontario needs to:

• Shift its export activity in key tradable sectors to strategically target emerging economies and meet rising demand;
• Accelerate the commercialization of Ontario products, ideas and services that can compete globally;
• Develop a manufacturing strategy that will support rapid investment by Ontario manufacturers in world-leading technology in order to close the productivity gap and achieve global scale;
• Create a venture capital initiative that consolidates provincial, federal and private sector capital and raises the quality and level of risk capital;
• Expedite regulatory approvals for projects with high job-creation potential;

• Build an entrepreneurial culture by introducing youth to entrepreneurship as a viable career option;

• Help young people better understand the opportunities in the job market, especially in the skilled trades;
• Increase mentorships, internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships;
• Increase the number of newcomers with the skills needed by Ontario employers.

“This is a crucial time for Ontario,” said Council Vice-Chair Kevin Lynch. “We cannot be complacent and accept the status quo. Ontario has enviable advantages, and we face the future with clear strengths, but it’s time to step up to the plate and seize the opportunity.”

The Council proposes to reconvene in 12 months to review progress by government, business, academia and others and update Ontarians.

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