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LSO responds to Throne Speech with recommendations to boost Ontario’s life sciences sector

Toronto, Sept. 13, 2016 – Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) applauds the Government of Ontario’s commitments to education, job creation, and a strong economy within yesterday’s Throne Speech. However, the Province must also urgently address policy surrounding our life sciences sector to ensure Ontario’s economic success.

“As the province’s largest growth opportunity, we believe that life sciences must be specifically addressed within our provincial economic strategy,” says Dr. Jason Field, President & CEO of Life Sciences Ontario.

Continued investment in science education has put Ontario on the map for world-class research and innovation. The provincial government’s support of entrepreneurs and startups, with investments in accelerators and incubators, demonstrates a commitment to align our workforce with the job market of today, and the future. Recent trade missions to promote Ontario’s assets and form partnerships are helping attract and retain new businesses. LSO also applauds the government’s pledge to help Ontario’s agrifood sector meet challenges and reduce costs.

These initiatives have served to bolster Ontario’s largest potential growth sector: Life sciences. The sector directly contributes $21.6B to Ontario’s GDP, and ranks among North America’s top clusters, with conservative estimates putting the industry’s annual revenues at $40.5B. Wages in Ontario’s life sciences sector are 26.5 per cent higher than the provincial average. And, between 2001 and 2013, the sector’s job growth outpaced the provincial average by nearly 10 per cent, demonstrating resilience during the 2008 economic downturn.

“Ontario’s life sciences sector is crucial to our prosperity,” Dr. Field says. “We must build on our momentum to ensure both the success of our sector, and the economic future of our province.”

The federal government is currently developing an innovation strategy to ensure Canadians compete on a global scale; the province must work with the federal government to move these priorities forward. The promised provincial working group on life sciences policy should be part of this strategy, delivering key recommendations to both provincial and federal policymakers.

The province must also work to address the biggest roadblock to our companies’ success: Access to growth capital. This will require provincial and federal governments to strategize a suite of policy options that encourage a diverse and deep pool of risk capital.

Last but not least, Ontario must invest in innovation in our healthcare sector. LSO applauds the Province’s commitment and improvements to primary care and the creation of the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist; now, we must leverage advances in technology and digital health to increase sustainability and provide better value and outcomes for Ontario patients.

“Ontario is attracting attention on the international stage for its startups, science, and technology,” says Dr. Field. “We have the talent; what we need now is a coordinated strategy and the capital to fuel it.”

Media contact:
Melissa Hughes, Communications Manager
Life Sciences Ontario

About Life Sciences Ontario:

Life Sciences Ontario is a member-driven organization that represents and promotes the province’s vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. LSO collaborates with governments, academia, industry, and other life science organizations in Ontario and across Canada to promote and encourage commercial success throughout the sector. Membership in Life Sciences Ontario includes individuals, students, emerging companies, investors, service providers, and companies with marketed products. The organization provides a wide range of networking and educational events, and operates a mentorship program that is helping to develop highly-skilled talent and build new business opportunities for the life sciences sector. LSO is an effective conduit for delivering policy options to governments, and is dedicated to promoting Ontario’s life sciences sector internationally.

How you can support LSO’s advocacy efforts: