Ontario environment companies concerned green economic opportunity at risk

    Deloitte environment industry report calls for new ways to seize business

    TORONTO, April 29 /CNW/ - Ontario environment firms are concerned the
province may miss a crucial opportunity in the coming years if business and
government do not find new ways of working together, according to a new study
conducted by Deloitte for the Ontario Environment Industry Association
(ONEIA). The research finds companies are eager to capitalize on growing world
demand for environmental services, products and technology, but are concerned
industry and government need to work more cooperatively if this is to happen.
    The research engaged a broad range of companies in the province's
environment industry, including firms working in the areas of environmental
engineering, alternative energy, recycling, waste processing, water
purification, air quality and brownfields remediation. Firms say Ontario must
quickly develop the optimal combination of focused regulations, pricing
mechanisms and programs or risks ceding this important market to other
jurisdictions in the world.
    "Ontario has already started to move in the right direction," said Alex
Gill, Executive Director of ONEIA. "We have great companies and a provincial
government that has begun to put the right policies in place. But environment
firms know we will have to work much more closely with government - and much
more quickly - if Ontario is to become the world leader we know it can be."

    Key findings of the report include:

    A good place to do business

    Overall, environment firms are optimistic about the opportunities to do
business in the province. In fact, 47 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that
Ontario is "a great place for environment companies to do business." They also
believe they have good sources of well-trained and motivated employees,
growing local markets for their products and services, and fair access to
markets outside Ontario and Canada.

    Develop local demand first, then export markets

    In general, participating firms believe they have excellent access to
export markets. In fact, study participants feel that many federal and
provincial programs are excessively focused on exports and not enough on
making the most of the home market. For example, only 35 per cent believe
"advisory and other supports to help with exporting" would have a high impact
on their success, while 63 per cent think "faster, guaranteed turnaround times
on applications" to proceed with new development, technology and processes
would have high impact. They suggest the best strategy to boost exports is to
first develop local demand to provide scale and critical mass at home, which
can then help improve competitiveness when they look to enter export markets.

    Regulatory environment a challenge

    Environment firms see Ontario's current regulatory system as the most
significant challenge to growth. While they favour strong environmental
protection for the public, they also believe the rapidly changing needs of
business demand greater regulatory flexibility. More than half the survey
respondents (58%) believe government regulation does not keep pace with

    "Green" procurement an opportunity to grow industry at home

    The vast majority of survey respondents (84%) believe so-called "green
procurement" requirements in government contracts would be beneficial to
growing the environment sector in the province. They feel government can take
a leadership role by becoming an early adopter of new technologies, and by
setting efficiency, waste and emission targets for public contracts and public

    Market-based incentives seen as most effective

    More than four times as many study participants believe governments
should emphasize environmental outcomes, rather than picking winning
technologies, to encourage the purchase of environmentally friendly products
and services. This includes mandating higher prices for potentially
environmentally harmful behaviour to encourage such things as energy
conservation, use of alternative energies, increased recycling and reduced
    "This study provides a clear path that will allow Ontario to take
advantage of the emerging green economic opportunity," said Ellen McGregor,
CEO of Fielding Chemical Technologies, a leading recycling firm based in
Mississauga. "But we must act quickly. We do not want to look back five years
from now and say that other countries have developed the solutions the world
needs and we have not."
    Ontario's environment industry is made up of more than 2,700 firms across
the province that employ more than 60,000 people. The world market for
environmental goods, services and technology is expected to grow to over
USD$700 billion annually in coming years, offering a significant growth
opportunity for Ontario companies.
    The study, conducted by Deloitte, was commissioned by ONEIA in
partnership with the Ontario Ministries of the Environment, Economic
Development, and Research and Innovation, and the Ontario Centres of
Excellence. The study used a combination of interviews, focus groups and a
survey to engage more than 180 companies across the province in February and
March 2009.

    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.

For further information:

For further information: Alex Gill, Executive Director, (416) 571-5030,

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