The federal government is pumping $10 million into Winnipeg’s aerospace industry, with the expectation that the innovation and training money will help create new high-paying jobs.
Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, will make the announcement at Red River College’s Notre Dame Avenue campus Wednesday morning.
The funds will expand the Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT) and create a new space at RRC dubbed the “Smart Factory.”
StandardAero is contributing $4.5 million to the projects while Red River is kicking in $1.2 million for a total investment of more than $15 million.
Bains said in an interview Tuesday the announcement reaffirms Ottawa’s commitment to the local aerospace and advanced-manufacturing sector and “strengthens the foundation for additional investments going forward.”
“I’m very hopeful and optimistic of the opportunities that exist, particularly good-quality, high-value jobs in Manitoba,” he said.
The $10-million commitment represents half the total aerospace investment Ottawa promised as compensation for the loss of heavy maintenance jobs in the city. Winnipeg had more than 400 heavy maintenance employees until 2012, when Air Canada’s heavy maintenance subsidiary went bankrupt and the airline shipped the work out of the country.
Bains couldn’t provide a timeline for when Ottawa will deliver on the other $10 million that has been promised, but said discussions are ongoing with the province and industry about future projects.
“We’re obviously having conversations about that,” he said, noting Winnipeg will be well-positioned to benefit from Ottawa’s plans to purchase 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets as an interim measure before it launches a full-fledged replacement program for the entire fleet of CF-18s.
The Smart Factory will connect aerospace and other manufacturing organizations with specialized equipment and new technology to support advanced manufacturing processes, the federal government says. The partnership between industry, Red River and Ottawa will help students learn new skills to prepare them for future aerospace jobs.
The CATT is an industrial campus co-located at StandardAero, where new processes and materials can be tested without interrupting production flow. It’s one of three facilities of its kind in North America and is viewed as a model of collaboration between industry and post-secondary institutions.
The investments being announced Wednesday will lead to expanded research and training opportunities in areas such as robotics, digital manufacturing and industrial networking, Ottawa says.
Manitoba is home to the third largest aerospace sector in Canada, employing more than 5,100 people.