Webinar with the Industry Strategy Council

Established in May, the Industry Strategy Council undertook an extensive consultation to consider sectoral pressures resulting from the pandemic, releasing its initial report at the end of 2020. At this session, we engaged Monique Leroux, Vice-Chairman of Fiera Holdings and Chair of the Industry Strategy Council, along with two of the Council’s members, John Baker, President and CEO of D2L, and Rhonda Barnet, President and COO of AVIT Manufacturing, to discuss the Council’s recommendations and next steps.

The Council outlined five recommendations organized around three phases: restart, recover and reimagine. Recommendations include:

  1. Restore confidence by continuing employment and income assistance and managing health risks
  2. Stabilize hardest-hit sectors by providing assistance to preserve jobs and businesses
  3. Invest in Canada’s strengths to reinforce the innovation ecosystem, attract and retain talent, accelerate digitization and de-risk innovation projects
  4. Develop a made-in Canada industrial strategy, positioning Canada in a renewed leadership position globally
  5. Learning from the pandemic, build solidarity and foster public-private partnerships

Key Takeaways

“Upskilling and reskilling the economy is essential; there is a real opportunity for polytechnics to reskill the workforce by taking a look at long-term high demand areas and educating displaced people and get them into these areas.” – John Baker

“It is so important for SMEs to upgrade their capacity for digital innovation. This is a great opportunity for polytechnics to come into play because we need to move forward, the direction is very clear in the report, it essential not just for digital companies but all sectors.” – Monique Leroux

“We have to get really innovative about innovation. Everything we do in the federation is siloed – polytechnics, sectors, provinces, regions are all siloed. Let’s start thinking about how we get out of our silos and have cross-cutting initiatives to be innovative together.” – Rhonda Barnet

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Monique Leroux

Chair of the Industry Strategy Council and Vice-Chairman at Fiera Holdings

In May 2020, Ms. Leroux was appointed Chair of the Industry Strategy Council by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada. She is Vice-Chair of Fiera Holdings Inc. and serves as an independent board member of global companies such as Michelin Group (ML-France), Bell/BCE, and S&P Global Inc. (SPGI). She brings to these boards her diverse experience, among others as Partner at Ernst and Young (EY) and Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group from 2008 to 2016. Her role at Desjardins saw Ms. Leroux the first woman elected Chair or the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group and the first woman to lead a Top 10 financial institution in Canada. Under her leadership, Desjardins Group achieved significant business growth and received a great deal of recognition.

Ms. Leroux is a Member of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Ordre National du Québec, a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur (France) and a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award (United States). She has been awarded Fellowship by the Ordre des Comptables Professionnels Agréés du Québec and the Institute of Corporate Directors and holds honorary doctorates from eight Canadian universities in recognition of her contribution to the business sector and to the community.


John Baker

President and CEO of D2L Corporation

Mr. Baker founded D2L in 1999, at the age of twenty-two, after identifying his own unfulfilled need for learning online while studying systems design engineering at the University of Waterloo. A strong believer in community involvement, Mr. Baker devotes both his personal and business efforts to supporting young entrepreneurs who are developing and applying technology to improve society worldwide.

He was appointed to the Governing Council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Member (Entrepreneurs’ Circle) of the Business Council of Canada, Business Higher Education Roundtable, and is a past Chair of the Board of Communitech. Mr. Baker has been awarded the Meritorious Service Cross, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Ontario for Software and Technology), Young Alumni Achievement Medal from University of Waterloo, and Intrepid Entrepreneur of the Year in Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.


Rhonda Barnet

President and COO of AVIT Manufacturing

Ms. Barnet co-founded AVIT Manufacturing in 2004, and currently serves as its President and Chief Executive Officer, managing finance, operations, and business development portfolios. She bring to the role 30 years of experience working in finance and engineering; 7 years managing small business finance portfolios; and 7 years working in the nuclear industry as a mathematical analyst assessing reactor operating conditions and errors in measurement devices. Her specialties include finance, federal policy advocacy, national and international business development, advisory board development and strategic planning.

Ms. Barnet served as Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Board Chair between 2016 and 2018, becoming the first female in history to hold this position. She is currently the Chair of the CME Workforce of the Future Council, and as an international thought leader on manufacturing skills and diversity, works to foster women and underrepresented groups to take up careers in manufacturing. Ms. Barnett also serves as a Director for the Government of Canada’s Economic Strategy Council representing the manufacturing sector, Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table, and Director for Next Generation Manufacturing Canada.


Dr. Larry Rosia

President and CEO of Saskatchewan Polytechnic

As President and CEO of Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Dr. Larry Rosia leads the province’s primary provider of technical education and skills training. Dr. Rosia’s career in education spans more than 35 years, as an Instructor, Program Chair, Revenue Generating Coordinator, Marketing Manager and Dean. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience and has served in advisory roles to community, provincial and municipal committees. In 2006, he completed his PhD in academic leadership at the University of Calgary. He completed the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University and earned Institute of Corporate Directors Designation.

Dr. Rosia is the President of Post-Secondary International Network, Chair of Polytechnics Canada Board of Directors and serves on Boards including the CANARIE, Community Colleges for International Development, Polytechnics Canada, the International Mineral Innovation Institute, Skills Canada (Saskatchewan), the Chair Academy International Leadership Board, the Saskatchewan Post-Secondary International Education Council, the Saskatchewan Labour Market Task Force, World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics and the University of Regina Senate.

Dr. Rosia’s notable recognition includes the SAIT Board of Governors Award for Business and Industry Partnerships, the Conference Board of Canada Award for Business and Industry Partnerships, the Chair Academy International Exemplary Leadership Award, the Saskatchewan Men of Influence Award and the Paul A. Elsner Excellence in Leadership Award.

Dr. Rosia served as our moderator for this event.

The Industry Strategy Council’s full report outlining their five recommendations for recovery.

If you don’t have time to read through the ISC’s full report, we’ve put together a short summary that includes the Council’s five recommendations organized around the phases: restart, recover, and reimagine.

While watching the webinar, take a look at the slide deck used by ISC Chair Monique Leroux during her introductory remarks. The deck makes a great resource to refer back to once you’ve completed the webinar as well.