Canada has renewed its historic commitment to aerospace with over $2 billion in funding for this strategic, future-facing industry.
Budget 2021 recognized not only the role of aerospace to help drive economic activity and support jobs across the country, but its unique ability to contribute to the development of world-changing innovation. Though one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, forecasts are projecting a total global aerospace market value of $8.5 Trillion over the next decade.
The budget invests $90 million in space-based satellite observation, for example, a field where Canada has always been a leader. We were the third country after Russia and the United States to build and launch our own satellite. The Anik A1 was the world’s first-ever commercial domestic communication satellite; when it was launched in 1972, it connected Canadians from coast to coast to coast, through live TV broadcasts and long-distance telephone calling.
This early leadership in satellite communications contributed to the technologies that facilitate internet connectivity, weather monitoring and GPS networks today, to name a few. The Canadarm, another Canadian first, still operates in space, and its legacy technologies are fuelling a robotics and automation revolution here on the ground.
These incredible achievements didn’t just happen by accident. Political and industry leaders decided 80 years ago to make Canada an aerospace nation. Successive governments of all stripes maintained that commitment, with investments and dedicated strategies.
This visionary act of nation-building between government and industry grew Canada’s aerospace industry into the fifth largest in the world, competing toe to toe with the US, the UK, France and Germany, and now China and India among others. Canadian aerospace innovations helped shape the modern world and have generated prosperity and stability in local communities for decades.
Today, Canada’s aerospace sector supports 235,000 jobs in every region of the country and contributes almost $30B a year in GDP. Aerospace research & development investments topped $1.4 billion in 2018, 35% of all manufacturing R&D. We are a pivotal link in the global aerospace supply chain, and an international leader in export intensity.
Now that Budget 2021 outlines markers for investments, it’s time for an aggressive national aerospace strategy that leverages Canada’s competitive advantages, supports and grows jobs, scales up exports and supports green innovation.
There’s no way around it – Government has, and always will, have a central role to play when it comes to aerospace as a partner, investor, regulator and customer.
Governments in other countries have partnered in strategic plans with industry, sending a clear signal to investors and positioning their industries to take their share of the upcoming $8.5 trillion global marketplace, and lead in the green aerospace revolution. The United States, the UK, Germany, France and Australia are investing in long-term strategies. They are “in it to win it.”
Canada needs the same kind of shared government-industry vision and clear strategy. The good news is, industry has developed a national, partnership-based framework vision to revitalize Canada’s aerospace sector. Through AIAC’s industry-led Vision 2025 initiative, we’ve identified clear, actionable priorities, that align well with the initiatives just announced in Budget 2021.
Whether it be increasing support for the world’s most skilled workforce, ensuring small and medium-sized aerospace businesses thrive and grow, developing green technology, or maximizing our leadership in space – Canadian aerospace is one of few industries in Canada that can drive economic recovery in rural and urban communities from coast to coast to coast.
With a national strategic plan built around the targeted supports outlined in Budget 2021, aerospace has the potential to contribute an additional $7 billion to Canada’s GDP, 50,000 new jobs and $4.5 billion in new exports over the next decade.
We welcome the government’s recognition of this strategic sector, and hope it is just the beginning of a new era of partnership, nation-building and Canadian ingenuity in aerospace.
Mike Mueller, President & CEO (Interim)
Aerospace Industries Association of Canada