Manitoba's Strategic Advantages: Business and the Economy

Manitoba’s diversity of skills and cultures is a business asset. Manitoba is a developed, diverse and dynamic economy with stable economic growth and one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates. Key components of the economy include manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, hydroelectricity, and natural resources.


Although Manitoba is rich in natural resources and fertile farmland, the provincial economy is not dependent on any single industry or commodity. In fact, studies by Moody’s Investors Services of New York have shown that Winnipeg has one of Canada’s most diverse urban economies. This diversity has led to an unemployment rate that is consistently among the lowest in Canada and provides long-term economic stability, ensuring that Manitoba firms have access to a variety of supplies and services.

The diverse manufacturing base – which includes aerospace materials, buses, building products, machinery, furniture, electronics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and processed foods – allows Manitoba’s economy to prosper even when prices for cyclical commodities decline.

Our province is a major force in exporting goods around the world. Leading export markets – after the United States – are China/ Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.

Manitoba's Key Industries include:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Agribusiness
  • Creative Industries
  • Education
  • Energy and Environment
  • Financial Services
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Life Sciences
  • Mining and Minerals
  • Tourism
  • Transportation and Distribution

Highlights of the 2016 KPMG Competitive Alternatives Study

2016 KPMG Competitive Alternatives Study

The KPMG Competitive Alternatives study is a comprehensive comparison of business costs in 10 countries. The study compares the after-tax cost of startup and operation in each of 17 selected industries, by indexing business costs to the average for the United States (i.e. US average = 100.0). A cost index below 100.0 for an individual location indicates lower costs than the US average, while an index greater than 100.0 indicates higher costs than the US average.

Among the G-7 nations, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are the overall cost leaders, with Canada having a cost advantage of 14.6% relative to the USA. Total labor costs are among the lowest in Canada, second only to Mexico.

Set Up Your Business in Manitoba (Manitoba Hydro)

The largest industry – manufacturing – accounts for about 10% of the province’s GDP, and the province’s primary industries – mining, agriculture and forestry – together account for about 8.4%. Manitoba has a thriving service sector, with head offices for Canada’s largest insurance company, largest mutual fund distributor, and largest integrated media company. Canada’s only agricultural commodity exchange is located in Winnipeg, making the city the centre of Canada’s grain trade. The province is also a major North American transportation hub.

Manitoba is home to Canada’s largest plants for furniture, doors, windows and cabinetry. It is also North America’s largest producer of intercity and urban buses. The province’s industries are themselves well diversified. For example, within manufacturing, processed foods and transportation equipment represent about 40% of shipments, with the remainder of industry shipments comprised of machinery, wood products, chemicals, fabricated metal products, plastics, furniture, printing, clothing and electrical products. Agricultural production is similarly diversified, with crops accounting for about 55 per cent and livestock accounting for about 35 per cent.

Manitoba’s competitive operating costs and taxes have made Manitoba one of the least expensive provinces in Canada to do business.  Among representative North American cities, both small and large manufacturers in Brandon and Winnipeg rank at or near the best on start-up costs, net income, overall taxes and return on investment.

Detailed analysis of the Manitoba economy can be found in the Manitoba 2018 Budget Papers as well as the Manitoba's Economic Analysis and Research Unit website.


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