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Ontario Stakes its Claim to Expand Province’s Innovation Ecosystem with New Life Sciences Strategy

A new cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility being built in Hamilton will anchor the future of life sciences jobs and innovation in Ontario while advancing pioneering medicine with the potential to cure many forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, welcomed the $580 million investment in the OmniaBio Inc. facility as he unveiled the government’s new innovative life sciences strategy. Through Invest Ontario, the province’s investment attraction agency, subject to reaching a definitive agreement, the province will invest up to $40 million to help create the OmniaBio manufacturing facility, which will be spun out of Toronto’s Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM).

Located at McMaster Innovation Park, OmniaBio will be a commercial-scale cell and gene therapy facility operating as a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). A CDMO works with other life sciences companies, large and small, to commercialize and manufacture their products. This arrangement allows life sciences companies to focus on research for new therapies and medical breakthroughs – and on growing their business.

The facility builds on almost $2 billion in recent transformational investments in Ontario by leading pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi, Resilience and Roche. It will increase the province’s biomanufacturing capacity, strengthen domestic supply chains and boost Ontario-made innovation. It is scheduled to begin operations in early 2024.

Provincial support for the OmniaBio project is part of Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level, the province’s plan to grow Ontario’s life sciences sector and secure new investments in next-generation health technologies, medicines and vaccine manufacturing.

The strategy sets out ambitious goals over the next decade. One major objective is to grow Ontario’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sector to employ 85,000 Ontarians in high-value jobs by 2030, a 25 per cent increase from 2020.

“Our government has a plan to realize Ontario’s economic potential and take our life sciences sector to the next level as we build up homegrown supply chains for personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies,” said Fedeli. “This plan will make Ontario a global hub for biomanufacturing and life sciences and improve our preparedness for future challenges. It will create high-paying jobs, strengthen our health care system – and make it clear that Ontario is a world-leading partner in developing the medicines, vaccines and health technologies of the future.”

Phase 1 of the new strategy has identified four pillars for action:

  • Secure new vaccine and medicine manufacturing mandates and commercial-scale investments by leveraging Invest Ontario to help to grow and diversify Ontario’s biomanufacturing sector.
  • Ensure future pandemic preparedness by supporting the growth and stability of Ontario’s domestic personal protective equipment and medical supply sectors, including building a long-term stockpile for provincial use.
  • Prime Ontario’s small and medium-sized businesses for homegrown success by strengthening their ability to turn innovative research and ideas into Ontario-made products and services that the world wants to buy.
  • Improve patient outcomes and help grow local companies by making it easier for new Ontario-made innovations to enter the Ontario health care system.

The strategy will also establish a forward-looking life sciences council that will focus on long-term growth and competitiveness in four key subsectors: medical technology, pharma/biotech, digital health and personal protective equipment.

The council will include Ontario startups, industry executives, research hospitals, post-secondary institutions and other leaders. They will work together to identify opportunities for Ontario to improve regulatory processes and incentives to advance the life sciences sector, support Ontario-made innovation and improve patient access to new technologies, treatments and medicines.

Ontario’s Life Sciences Strategy is part of the government’s A Plan to Stay Open, a comprehensive package of legislative amendments that would increase capacity in the health care system and strengthen the government’s ability to respond to future emergencies.

“Invigorating Ontario’s life sciences is a key element of Ontario’s overall emergency preparedness plan,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board. “By supporting growth and development in this crucial sector, we will be better prepared for the future with made-in-Ontario solutions to the health challenges of tomorrow.”

“Ontario’s life sciences ecosystem supports thousands of good paying, high-skilled jobs in communities across our province,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “Through our Life Sciences Strategy, our government will continue working to unlock the full potential of the sector, support innovation and new technologies, and enhance companies’ competitiveness at home and on the global stage.”

By lowering taxes, reducing electricity costs and red tape, the government has reduced the cost of doing business in Ontario by nearly $7 billion a year. These measures continue to lay the foundation to ensure that Ontario’s life sciences sector is successful, competitive, and ready to improve pandemic preparedness here at home while meeting shifting global demand abroad.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario’s life sciences sector is the largest in Canada, employing 66,000 people. The sector generates more than $58.7 billion in revenues and has an annual payroll of $5.18 billion across the province.
  • With current worldwide demand for contract manufacturing outstripping supply by at least five times, the OmniaBio project will strengthen Ontario’s ability to attract foreign direct investment from the global life sciences industry.
  • Recent investments over the past year of almost $2 billion by leading global pharmaceutical companies include $1.4 billion in transformative investments by Sanofi and Resilience to build new manufacturing facilities in Ontario.
  • A Plan to Stay Open is the government’s strategy to ensure all Ontarians have the stability they expect and deserve in the face of an emergency.