Environment and cleantech industry report provides road map for the "next generation" of Ontario's growth

Ontario companies urge government to set winning conditions to maximize economic potential of sector

TORONTO, April 5 /CNW/ - Ontario needs bold new policies to encourage greener economic development if it is to effectively compete in the world economy in the coming years, according to a new report from the province's environment and cleantech companies. Still Ready to Grow, a report released today at the Ontario Legislature by the Ontario Environment Industry Association ("ONEIA"), finds that while provincial policies are moving in the right direction, much more needs to be done - and much more quickly - if Ontario is to keep up with its major competitors around the world.

"Our province has a real opportunity to follow a path similar to Germany, The Netherlands and China, which have become economic powerhouses by embracing the clean, green economy," said Alex Gill, Executive Director of ONEIA. "Failure to keep up with them could see Ontario instead become a North American version of Argentina, which has endured decades of economic decline as its economy failed to evolve and became increasingly reliant on natural resources."

ONEIA defines the environment and cleantech sector as including organizations or divisions of organizations based in Ontario whose primary business is the production, provision or development of products, technologies or services that are designed to produce beneficial environmental outcomes. Still Ready to Grow follows up on ONEIA's landmark 2009 report, Ready to Grow, that looked at how the Ontario government can leverage the strengths of these companies to foster growth.

Companies surveyed in the original Ready to Grow report sent a clear message, echoed in the new report that government should not focus on public policies that support specific environmental technologies, approaches or companies. Rather they recommended adopting broader policies that support all companies in the sector to respond to market needs, and to grow and compete.

"While the government-wide Open for Business program embodies the 'winning conditions' companies are looking for, other initiatives seem to be looking for the 'next big thing'," said Gill. "This sends mixed signals to businesses and, depending on the programs and levels of support, may pit certain parts of the market against others."

In addition to concerns about how the province should set "winning conditions", ONEIA's Still Ready to Grow recommends the following:

  • Accelerating the modernization of the approvals process within the Ministry of the Environment

  • Undertaking a comprehensive green procurement program to support Ontario clean tech businesses

  • Supporting research conducted by companies to support that done in universities

  • Supporting an industry-led bridge strategy that helps connect our environment and cleantech firms with established players in the Ontario economy

The importance of the sector to the provincial economy cannot be overemphasized. Federal statistics indicate that this sector already employs 65,000 people in Ontario, working in some 3,000 companies that generate $8 billion in revenues, including $1 billion in exports. The world market for environmental and cleantech goods, services and technology is estimated at $780 billion annually and is growing rapidly, offering a significant opportunity for Ontario companies.

"As a significant and growing part of Ontario's 'next generation' economy, it is important that our companies present their concerns to government and begin a responsible public debate," said Robert Redhead, ONEIA Chair. "While the province has made some important first steps to support growth, much remains to be done. The future of the Ontario economy and whether it is able to compete against global leaders demands no less."

ONEIA is the business association for Ontario's environment industry. The Association's members include environmental product, service and technology companies, research institutes, universities and governments. Through their innovation and experience in Ontario and around the world, ONEIA's members provide market-driven solutions for society's pressing environmental problems.

SOURCE Ontario Environment Industry Association

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Katie Gates

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Ontario Environment Industry Association

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