Industries and resources in Manitoba

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If you think that Manitoba is an agricultural province, you’re not mistaken. Since the earliest days of settlement in the province, farming has been its foremost industry. In fact, as early as 1812, farming has been a major attraction that has pulled farmers (and would-be farmers) to its vast farmlands.

But did you know that advanced manufacturing, aerospace, IT, and digital media are also some of the other key industries that are thriving in the province?

Agriculture and agribusiness

Manitoba’s primary crops are wheat, canola, flaxseed, barley, oats, and rye. Aside from these, the province dominates Canadian production of sunflower seeds, buckwheat, and field peas. In 2011, agriculture contributed 62,000 jobs to Manitoba’s economy and directly employed 30,000 workers. Together with the food processing industry, the sector provides 23,600 jobs (Manitoba Agriculture Statistics Index). Agricultural production recorded a revenue of $6.5 billion in 2017 (Economic Development Winnipeg).

The food processing industry is Manitoba’s largest manufacturing sector. It is composed of over 250 companies, earning $4.7 billion in revenues in 2017. The province is recognized internationally for the quality of its pork. It is also home to the largest egg processing plant in Canada, Canadian Inovatech Inc. Other major food processing operations in Manitoba include Burnbrae Farms, Ltd., and Maple Leaf Foods.


Manufacturing in the province is widely diversified. Food, clothing, machinery, transportation equipment, primary metal, and metal fabricating operations in Manitoba fulfill demand from all over Western Canada. As mentioned, the food processing industry is the largest manufacturing sector, accounting for 25% of total provincial manufacturing shipments. Its second-largest is heavy vehicle manufacturing which is a $1.9 billion industry.

Over 1500 establishments are engaged in manufacturing in the province, providing more than 60,000 jobs. Winnipeg is North America’s largest centre for bus manufacturing and is known for building motor homes, fire engines, semi-trailers, and storage tanks for agriculture, and oil and gas. Among the key players in the industry are Motor Coach Industries, New Flyer Industries, Fort Garry Fire Trucks, and Buhler Industries, among others.

Transportation and logistics

Due to its strategic location, Manitoba has been a centre for transportation and logistics for over a century now. Winnipeg is at the hub of several continental and global transportation routes. With this advantage, it is the ideal home to CentrePort Canada. Located next to the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, it is a 20,000 acre inland port that offers Free Trade Zone advantages. CentrePort Canada expedites the transfer of goods to North American, Asian, and European markets.

Aside from this, there are more than 1,000 for-hire trucking companies in Manitoba. This is part of the 5,800 businesses involved in warehousing and distribution; logistics; air, road, and rail transportation; and local transit distribution present in the province. This sector directly employs over 40,000 workers.


Manitoba has a state-of-the-art aerospace industry that is the largest in Western Canada. The province is home to three world-class firms: Boeing Technology Canada, StandardAero, and Magellan Aerospace Limited as well as 57 other business establishments. The aerospace sector in Manitoba generated $1.5 billion in GDP in 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 3.8 per cent over the last five years (Economic Development Winnipeg). This industry is export-oriented; Winnipeg aerospace companies have shipped over $5 billion in product exports over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, Manitoba’s domestic aerospace product and parts manufacturing exports amounted to $627 million in 2017. The industry employs a labour force of 4,400 highly skilled workers. The outlook for this industry is excellent, with ongoing capital investment in the industry sustaining its competitive edge.

Electricity and environmental industries

Manitoba Hydro is the province’s sole electrical utility, with its head office located in downtown Winnipeg. It generates electricity from self-renewing water power through 15 hydroelectric generating stations on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Burntwood, and Nelson rivers. It is one of the lowest-cost providers of electricity in Canada.

Aside from hydroelectric power, Manitoba is increasingly becoming the country’s leader in renewable energy production. It has made investments in geothermal heat pump installations, the development of wind power, and biodiesel strategy. Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro has funding programs for renewable energy production, energy efficiency, eco-innovation, bio-products, climate change mitigation, and related environmental sectors. Winnipeg is also home to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and digital media

Manitoba has over 1500 ICT companies, with 80 percent of them located in Winnipeg. This sector is composed of telecommunications firms, film and animation studios, computer system designers, electronic component manufacturers, computer equipment providers, and wire and cable suppliers.

Among the major ICT firms in Winnipeg are IBM, HP Enterprise, and Bell MTS, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications network providers. Manitoba is also home to about 125 digital media and gaming companies and many high-tech start-ups. It is estimated that 1,290 ICT businesses in Winnipeg employ more than 13,800 people. Learn more about the ICT industry from Economic Development Winnipeg.

Other industries

Financial services – Manitoba has a bustling financial services sector encompassing banking, insurance, leasing, securities, mutual funds, and venture financing. It employs more than 20,000 workers, contributing more than $2.9 billion annually to the GDP. Investors Group, Great-West Life, and the “big six” Canadian banks (RBC, CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, BMO Bank of Montreal, and the National Bank of Canada) all have headquarters in Winnipeg. They are part of the more than 4,100 financial services establishments active in the province.

Mining, minerals, and petroleum – Manitoba has world-class reserves of nickel, copper, gold, zinc, and silver. It also has industrial minerals such as cesium, limestone, dolomite, gypsum, sodium chlorate, dimension stone, sand, and gravel aggregate that are used as raw materials for the construction industry. In 2014, Manitoba’s mining and petroleum industries directly employed approximately 6,000 workers.

Building products – Manitoba is home to the largest Canadian kitchen cabinet manufacturer, Kitchen Craft Cabinetry, as well as the two largest Canadian window and door manufacturers, Loewen Windows and Willmar Windows. Palliser Furniture, Canada’s largest furniture manufacturer is in Winnipeg.

Creative industries – Winnipeg is known as the “Cultural cradle of Canada” and has a thriving creative industries sector. It has more than 4,600 groups and businesses involved in music, performing, and visual arts, and more than 400 in film and video production. There are also over 900 architectural, engineering specialized design firms, more than 300 advertising, and marketing businesses, and 100 are engaged in writing and published works. (Economic Development Winnipeg).
Sources: Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade, Manitoba Business Facts, Manitoba Trade and Investment, Economic Development Winnipeg, and Travel Manitoba.

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