Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House today as Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and I welcome this opportunity to share our government's solid commitment to the people and businesses in the London area.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
As member of Parliament for Cambridge, North Dumfries, I know that the global economic downturn was felt particular hard in southern Ontario, but our government responded in a very big and immediate way. In 2009, we created the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario, or FedDev, as we prefer to call it, to help the region recover from the effects of the global economic downturn and set the foundation in place for future prosperity.
Since that time, we have been working with communities, businesses and residents all throughout southern Ontario to help reshape the region's economy and achieve a sustainable and prosperous future. This, of course, includes the London area where, to date, we have made investments in about 69 projects, almost 70 projects, totalling more than $61 million.
Our government took immediate action by targeting funding through programs, such as the recreational infrastructure Canada program and the community adjustment fund, to create jobs and grow the economy in the short term.
As the economy began to turn, we expanded our programs. We refocused and provided resources to invest in projects designed to enhance the growth and competitiveness of local businesses and the communities in the area for the longer term.
Through FedDev, our government committed funding for the Canadian manufacturers and exporters. I can tell the House that 10 manufacturing businesses in the London area applied and benefited from $330,000 to help them improve their productivity and reach out to global markets. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against this kind of funding.
We also invested $8 million in the construction of the International Air Freight Transshipment Centre at the London International Airport to help diversify London's economy, to help bring products, including supplies, to companies like EMD and to help businesses in the area export their wares, but, of course, the NDP voted against that type of funding too.
In 2010, FedDev announced a new suite of initiatives designed to push the envelope of innovation and to ensure that southern Ontario would continue to grow and attract the smartest minds, the most skilled personnel and talent, as well as build and bring to market the most promising products and ideas. This is the key to securing a sustainable and prosperous economic future, not just for the London area but throughout southern Ontario.
Our strategy begins with young people and it ends with fresh ways of thinking, novel approaches to the challenges and opportunities that we face, and exciting new innovations. We know the importance of encouraging our youngest minds to explore the benefits of pursuing an education and a career in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics field. That is precisely why we designed the youth stem initiative. Through the youth stem program, we are helping to expand the educational outreach that teaches our young people that science is not only fun but also provides meaningful and, in many cases, very high-paying careers.
That is also why, under this initiative, the Prime Minister announced up to $2 million for Let's Talk Science, a London-based charitable organization that delivers science learning programs to children and youth helping them discover the world and pick a career in science, engineering and technology. The NDP voted no on that kind of funding. This is an investment that will have an impact, not just across Ontario but into our future as, so far, over a million children in southern Ontario have had a positive exposure to this program.
However, that is not all. We also committed close to $200,000 that will help the London Regional Children's Museum provide hands-on programs aimed at helping children learn about science and discover careers in the scientific field. This project is not only drawing visitors to London but those visitors are spending money in London.
Our investment of more than $985,000 for the London-based Partners in Research is helping the organization expand its interactive science-based teaching programs all across southern Ontario, linking researchers with students from grades five to twelve, our future leaders. Unfortunately, the NDP members voted against that type of funding too. However, we are confident, regardless of their obstruction, that these investments will create future leaders and that more new inventions, discoveries, innovations, technologies and processes will be sold to the world, helping that local economy and our national one.
We are also working with post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations to support skills and leadership development and foster innovation and productivity. Through the graduate enterprise internship, we are building a talent pool of highly-skilled workers, something we often hear from the NDP as being needed.
To continue on this theme, from grade three through to graduation and beyond, we launched another initiative called the scientists and engineers in business initiative. Again, we are working with not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario that offer programs and services or fellowships to improve the success rate of stem related start-up businesses.
While it is important for small and medium size businesses to have access to skilled and well-trained workers who generate new ideas, we also recognized that they needed access to research and development capacity to help get their ideas tweaked, perfected and into the marketplace. Therefore, we recently announced the applied research and commercialization initiative. This initiative is helping small and medium size businesses partner with our colleges and universities. This helps businesses to grow, students to learn and local economies to compete. The NDP voted against that type of funding. The NDP stood in the way of the University of Western Ontario getting a $750,000 investment under the first round of this initiative, but it is now eligible for another round of funding that we just announced.
Through the technology development program, we invested more than $19.5 million in the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, including funding to help the University of Western Ontario, the City of London and local industry partners on a testing site for water treatment technology. This project will not only bring innovative water related technologies to our local market, but the global market is estimated to be $400 billion. The NDP voted against that type of funding.
We have programs for venture capital to help businesses grow and compete on a global scale. That is why we set up the prosperity initiative.
I could go on and on but I think I have made my point. It is very clear that our government and the Conservative members on this side of the House support the investments in and around London, as well as across southern Ontario, despite the obstruction of the NDP.
However, we continue to look for more people, businesses, applicants and organizations to work with us to seize even more opportunities and benefits for London. It is through these programs and our investments in projects in the London area and throughout southern Ontario that we will ensure that our region can make the most of every opportunity to improve its innovation, productivity and competitiveness. Our approach continues to be supporting jobs and growth for families, businesses and communities, in particular London.