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OVIN Report: Growing Ontario’s Automotive Industry 

Ontario is at the forefront of electric vehicle (EV) revolution and leading the global journey towards clean energy within automotive sector. Over the last three years, Ontario has brought in over $25B in investments related to EV battery and transformational automotive technology. As the second-largest vehicle producing region in North America, Ontario now employs an automotive workforce of over 100,000 people. 

With strong research institutions, manufacturing facilities, mining companies, technology development sites, and financial institutions, Ontario encourages a culture of innovation and commercialization for the automotive industry.  

In this blog, we look at some of the crucial factors and updates shaping Ontario’s future automotive sector by diving into the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) program’s reports about Ontario policies, workforce development practices, and research and development initiatives. 

Policies and Regulations  

Currently, there is a strategy in place under Ontario’s Driving Prosperity Plan to drive Ontario to become a North American leader in the automotive space. The strategy outlines 4 goals:  

  • Repositioning vehicle parts production for the cars of the future;  
  • Establishing a battery supply chain ecosystem;  
  • Innovating in every stage of development; and  
  • Investing in Ontario auto workers.  

By prioritizing the development of automotive vehicles, Ontario shifted focus to drawing new investments to the province. Upwards of 15 regulatory and policy amendments were made to streamline and ease the requirements for the automotive and manufacturing sector. The most notable policy update is that Ontario now allows on-road testing of autonomous vehicles. With reduced compliance costs and more investments, Ontario has generated $567M in savings for Ontario businesses and is making progress on the objective of building at least 400,000 electric and hybrid vehicles in Ontario by 2030. 

“Through our Driving Prosperity auto plan, strategic investments across our integrated supply chains, and by reducing the cost of doing business in Ontario by nearly $7 billion annually, our government is staking Ontario’s claim as a leader in the emerging North American EV battery industry.”  

–The Honourable Victor Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade 

Workforce Development 

Ontario’s automotive sector boasts a large, highly skilled workforce. Over 100,000 workers are directly employed in Ontario’s automotive industry, including vehicle assembly and parts production. 

Research suggests that there will be a recruitment gap of 30,000 workers in the automotive sector between 2021 and 2030. Factors such as ageing automotive workers and a lack of youth interest in the industry is contributing to the workforce gap.  

The Ontario government is bridging the gap by investing in ongoing workforce transformation. A range of university and college programs are now being offered to support the interest in and access to the automotive industry. Ontario currently offers automotive research and training programs at 12 universities and 24 colleges. 117 Ontario post-secondary schools also offer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, graduating more than 65,000 students per year in these fields. 

Through the Skilled Trades Strategy, Ontario is supporting skilled trades by reducing stigma surrounding these types of careers, making entry into this field easier, and encouraging employers to participate in apprenticeship programs. Ontario’s investment in the Skilled Trades Strategy between 2020 and 2021 was approximately $1.5B, with $90M allocated to promote the skilled trades to young people entering the workforce. Additionally, the government is also bringing in skilled newcomers via immigration programs and have awarded $15.1M towards them. OVIN is also developing a Made-in-Ontario Upskilling Platform for the automotive sector. The platform aims to help Ontario-based companies and employees access online educational programs to upskill their employees and meet future skill requirements. 

“We’re redrawing the system to address Ontario’s labor shortage and make the trades a career of choice for more people. The skilled trades provide well-paying and rewarding careers that are vital for our economy.”

– The Honourable Victor Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade 

Research and Development  

Ontario’s post-secondary institutions are leading discussions and research on autonomous vehicle (AV). Some noteworthy research and development (R&D) projects include:  

  • The University of Waterloo’s research and development (R&D) workspace for autonomous driving, vehicle connectivity, and advanced driver assistance systems; 
  • McMaster University’s Centre for Mechatronics and Hybrid Technologies efforts to develop in-house car detection and tracking technology; and  
  • The University of Toronto’s Electric Vehicle Research Centre leading the study on transitioning EV batteries to second-life applications, such as backup energy in microgrids or power grids.  

Through OVIN’s funding support, nearly $111.8M was awarded towards research and development in the automotive industry.  

Access OVIN Grants and Other Funding Matches 

The Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) aims to position Ontario as a North American leader in the field of developing and building cars of the future. As part of OVIN’s innovative programming, the Ontario Government has committed an additional $56.4 million, making a total investment of over $141 million to date in research and development (R&D), talent development, technology acceleration, business and technical support, as well as testing and demonstration support. 

OVIN’s leading objectives include:  

  • Fostering the development and commercialization of Ontario-made advanced automotive technologies and smart mobility solutions; 
  • Showcasing the Province of Ontario as the leader in the development, testing, piloting and adoption of the latest transportation and infrastructure technologies; 
  • Driving innovation and collaboration among the growing network of stakeholders at the convergence of automotive and technology; 
  • Leveraging and retaining Ontario’s highly skilled talent, and preparing Ontario’s workforce for jobs of the future in the automotive and mobility sector; and 
  • Harnessing Ontario’s regional strengths and capabilities and supporting its clusters of automotive and technology. 

OVIN is one of many initiatives designed to support the Canadian automotive industry. To ensure that implementing clean energy and EV within the industry is a top priority and has a comprehensive approach, the government of Ontario also launched the EV ChargeON Program to support the installation of public electric vehicle charging stations across Ontario communities.  

Additionally, there is a wide range of cleantech funding available across Ontario and other Canadian provinces. Mentor Works, a Ryan Company is Canada’s leading government funding application writing consultancy, and we can support your business funding strategies regarding cleantech funding. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on future funding programs and deadlines. 

Learn more about how to apply for Canadian government automotive funding programs by downloading our free Electric and Autonomous Vehicle Trends guide.  

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