Ontario Releases First-Ever Marine Transportation Strategy

Growing province’s marine sector key to building a stronger economy

Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation

TORONTO – Today, the Ontario government released The Future of the Great Lakes Economy: Ontario’s Marine Transportation Strategy, outlining actions the province will take to strengthen Ontario’s position as a leader in marine transportation. Part of the government’s plan to build Ontario, the strategy will create more jobs, trade and economic opportunities for the future.

“Linking to our railway and road networks, the marine sector plays a vital role in keeping goods, people and our economy moving every single day,” said Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation. “As we continue to build a stronger Ontario, the new marine strategy is an exciting opportunity to grow the marine transportation industry, unlocking more good-paying jobs and attracting new investments to our rapidly growing province.”

The four-pillar strategy will serve as the foundation for building a strong and sustainable marine sector that will make Ontario a leading jurisdiction in the years to come. It outlines over 14 near and longer-term actions, including:

  • Establishing the Ontario Marine Partnership and Development Office to oversee implementation of the strategy, be the key contact for industry stakeholders, and build awareness of Ontario’s marine sector priorities.
  • Strengthening connections between marine and other modes of transportation to keep people moving and get goods to market faster.
  • Working closely with public and private industry partners to attract and retain more workers in the sector, including providing new and expanded internship opportunities.
  • Harnessing green, low-carbon emissions and alternative fuels technologies, that will support a more environmentally sustainable marine sector and transportation network.

This work builds on Ontario’s four regional transportation plans: the Greater Golden HorseshoeNorthernSouthwestern and Eastern Ontario plans. These plans were developed to address the unique transportation needs of Ontario’s rapidly growing population, including a commitment to improve the performance and sustainability of the marine sector.

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve heard from port owners, shipbuilders, Indigenous partners, local businesses, tourism boards and operators, and many others about the unique needs and opportunities of Ontario’s marine sector,” said Hardeep Singh Grewal, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation. “This important feedback has informed the development of this strategy that will breathe new life into the sector. I look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners to grow this important sector for our economy.”

The Future of the Great Lakes Economy: Ontario’s Marine Transportation Strategy is an evergreen, living document that will continuously evolve, be updated, and improved to ensure that it meets the needs of the sector and our growing economy. The province will continue to work closely with industry experts, stakeholders, Indigenous partners, local communities and the public to help guide the strategy, and you can provide input directly here.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is home to four of five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, which includes 10,500 kilometres of shoreline. We share these waterways with our most important trading partner, the United States.
  • Every year, the Great Lakes region generates more than 50 per cent of our cross-border trade with the United States, totalling $278 billion, while supporting 51 million jobs.
  • The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence region accounts for 30 per cent of combined Canadian and U.S. economic activity and employment. If it were a country, it would have the world’s third largest GDP.
  • In 2022, water transportation contributed $185 million to Ontario’s real gross domestic product (GDP) and supported 2,235 jobs. Ship and boat manufacturing generated $52.8 million in GDP and 935 jobs.
  • Ontario’s marine sector moves up to 63 million tonnes of goods annually, providing cost-effective transportation of bulk cargo from port-to-port.


“Ontario’s Marine Transportation Strategy will drive economic prosperity by helping to build a strong and resilient intermodal supply chain, making sure Ontario’s businesses receive and expedite their products efficiently at home and abroad. From ship operators, ports, shipyards, ferry operators and terminal operators, the entire marine sector is looking forward to continuing to work alongside the Ford government to create a world-class inland shipping asset across the Great Lakes, while fostering innovation and collaboration between the government and the Marine industry.”

– Steve Salmons
Chair, Ontario Marine Council

“Ontario has a legacy as one of Canada’s premier shipbuilding provinces and our marine sector has a strong history of driving of economic growth across the province. With the government’s commitment to an Ontario Marine Transportation Strategy, we now have the foundation to expand shipbuilding in Ontario, and support thousands of highly skilled, good paying jobs.”

– Ted Kirkpatrick
Director of Business Development and Government Relations, Heddle Shipyards

“We applaud the launch of the first-ever Ontario Marine Transportation Strategy, which will chart the course for a growing maritime economy, supporting industry, trade, good jobs, and more sustainable supply chains. The Great Lakes connect Ontario to our largest trading partner and to global markets. HOPA Ports is proud to support a marine strategy that advances growth, prosperity and sustainability.”

– Ian Hamilton
President and CEO, HOPA Ports (Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority)

“Today’s announcement of Ontario’s first-ever Ontario Marine Transportation Strategy comes at a crucial time in the growth and competitiveness of Ontario’s marine industry. Thank you to Premier Ford and the Ontario government for understanding the importance of marine-based businesses in Ontario. As the largest Canadian flagged marine carrier on the Great Lakes, with our head office in St. Catharines, this strategy demonstrates that as we navigate an increasingly competitive and regulated business environment, we have a committed partner in the Ontario government.”

– Gregg Ruhl
President and CEO, Algoma Central Corporation

SOURCE Province of Ontario

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