On February 15th, I was delighted to join my federal Cabinet colleague, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, to make a major announcement that will have a big impact in Saskatchewan.
It’s all about agriculture and innovation.
Since our government’s first budget in the spring of 2016, we have been focused on greater, more sustainable economic growth. And the Agri-Food sector was identified as a prime potential driver of some of that new growth.
For much of the previous decade, the Canadian economy had been trudging along at a mediocre growth rate of barely 1.5% per year on average. That was simply not good enough to generate the jobs and the incomes and the confidence necessary to meet the expectations of the middle class and those working so hard just to get there. So we set out to address that problem.
To increase disposable incomes and consumer spending power, we cut middle-class taxes.
To that same end, we created the Canada Child Benefit which puts more money every month, tax free, into the pockets of nine-out-of-10 families.
We’re reducing the small business tax rate, first to 10% this year, and then down to 9% next year.
And we’re investing in infrastructure, science, innovation, advanced skills, value-added diversification, and trade. All of these measures drive growth.
The Budget in 2016 also launched a national competition for SuperClusters – a challenge to businesses, entrepreneurs, academia, labour, scientists, the financial sector and others – to come together, to build integrated clusters of brainpower and talent, to develop world leading hotbeds of innovation, growth and prosperity.
The Government of Canada promised to invest a combined total of more than $900 million in the best proposals received.
From every sector, from every corner of the country, the ideas came rolling in. More than a thousand businesses participated. Scores of educational and research institutions. Hundreds of millions in private sector dollars were pledged to build clusters.
At first there were more than 50 different proposals. All of them big and exciting.
One came from Saskatchewan – it was about the enormous value of the plant proteins that our amazing farmers have the ability to produce, and how that value can be multiplied and magnified to help feed the world, and in the process, elevate Canadian agriculture to a level of productivity and sophistication never before enjoyed.
Proteins are a vital component of the world’s food supply. They’re more and more in demand every day. And we need to be the best in the world at supplying them.
The Saskatchewan protein supercluster proposal made the “first cut” last fall and became one of the nine finalists in the national competition.
And this past week, Protein Innovations Canada, based in Saskatchewan, emerged among the five best … the five successful Canadian SuperClusters which have won the competition and earned federal funding.
The Government of Canada will award some $150 million to this project. Its private sector proponents will probably contribute up to twice that amount. And together, we will become the best in the world at growing, utilizing, processing, adding value and marketing protein around the world.
That will take scientific innovation. Business innovation. Financial innovation. Digital Innovation. Data innovation. Value-added innovation. Trade, marketing and transportation innovation. Skills and learning and much more.
This prairie-wide supercluster, born and rooted in Saskatchewan, will become a magnet for the best brains in the world about proteins, agricultural science and business, and the systems required to service protein demand and opportunities globally.
So many prominent Saskatchewanians have come together to make this proposal successful:
- the vision and the global experience of Murad Al-Katib;
- the scientific inspiration of Wilf Keller;
- the business leadership of Frank Hart;
- the organizational drive of Ron Styles; and many, many more.
Support and participation came also from across the prairies and other parts of Canada too.
I congratulate them all for their enormous accomplishment – Protein Innovations Canada is in very elite company. And they will do great things for agriculture, for Saskatchewan, the prairies, and for Canada.
Taken together, the FIVE successful SuperClusters named today are expected to generate some 50,000 jobs over the coming decade, and add $50 billion to Canada’s GDP.
The sectors covered are:
Protein Innovations; and
The Digital Economy.
At a time of increasing unpredictability in our next-door neighbour, this is exactly the home-grown excellence, skill, talent, brainpower and capacity in which Canada needs to invest.
I’m delighted that, on its merits, the bold idea from Saskatchewan people has emerged among the winners!
The Government of Canada is proud to be your partner.