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).

The food processing industry is Manitoba’s largest manufacturing sector. It is composed of over 250 companies, earning approximately $4 billion in revenues in 2013. 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 jobs to more than 60,000 people. 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, most especially, 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 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 23 other established regional and national firms. In 2015, the industry’s revenues exceeded $1.6 billion, with 80 per cent of earnings coming from aerospace manufacturing, and repair and overhaul; and 20 per cent from aerospace training and services. This industry is export oriented, with hundreds of companies worldwide as its clients. 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 per cent 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 Manitoba Telecom Services (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 business in Winnipeg employ 13,800 people.

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.

Sources: Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade, Manitoba Business Facts, Manitoba Trade and Investment, Economic Development Winnipeg, and Travel Manitoba.

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