2023 in Review: Navigating Canada’s Challenges

As another year comes to an end, it’s time to reflect and set goals for 2024. At Polytechnics Canada, part of this effort will include re-dedicating ourselves to addressing longstanding challenges like climate change, diversity and inclusion, lagging business productivity and skills shortages in critical occupations – areas where it is clear that polytechnic education is already making important contributions.

Here are just a few examples of the significant impact of our members in 2023:


Our members engage with business, non-profit and community partners on applied research projects that make both a tangible difference for industry and help develop innovation skills in the next-generation workforce.

  • Seneca Polytechnic recently opened a new state-of-the-art life sciences laboratory to serve as a hub for applied research biotechnology, cosmetic science and life science diagnostics. Given the extreme shortage of lab space in the Greater Toronto Area, this facility offers affordable access to small and medium-sized businesses looking to test their formulations.
  • With a $9.3 million contribution from the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative, the British Columbia Institute of Technology announced a hands-on training program for gas turbine maintenance, repair and overhaul in the aerospace sector – the first of its kind in North America.
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic has partnered with the NWC Wild Rice Company, Dumont Technical Institute and Northland College to build a sustainable fleet of harvester boats. This initiative responds to the need to increase the economic viability of harvesters while simultaneously reducing their environmental footprint in isolated Indigenous communities.


Canada’s polytechnics are committed to achieving the country’s net-zero ambitions by implementing clean technology on their campuses and partnering with businesses to support a green transition. Investments in sustainable infrastructure, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and research on clean fuel are pragmatic contributions to Canada’s net-zero goals.

  • Humber is proactively reducing its use of natural gas by 70 percent through Project SWITCH. This groundbreaking initiative involves transitioning to a modern electric heating system while serving as a living lab for students and providing work-integrated learning opportunities.
  • With a $300,000 contribution from Natural Resources Canada, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology is developing a Clean Fuels Awareness Program. The grant will support the creation of a self-paced online training module and a series of webinars focused on increasing awareness of clean fuels and clean fuel technologies. The work is expected to support academia, industry and government stakeholders, and will be broadly available to the public.
  • George Brown has taken a huge step in tackling climate change with the launch of the Brookfield Sustainability Institute, which will cultivate partnerships for the development of rapid prototypes and foster the growth of an environmentally conscious generation.
  • The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Green Building Technologies Tech-Access Centre has joined forces with the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association on a multi-year initiative to create energy-efficient Friendship Centres throughout Alberta.

Diversity and Inclusion

Polytechnics are committed to creating equitable and inclusive places to study and work.  Recognizing that the learning environment is enriched by those of various backgrounds and abilities, institutions offer programs and services to meet the needs of the students and communities they serve.

  • As part of its commitment to advancing truth and reconciliation, Kwantlen Polytechnic University announced that it is waiving tuition fees for eligible Indigenous students. By removing financial barriers to education, KPU is building an open partnership with local Indigenous communities.
  • Algonquin established a new Skills for Success program, offering female newcomers to Canada essential skills training that prepares them for administrative careers in customer service, data entry, human resources and accounting. A local recruiting firm will provide guidance on résumé building, interviewing and networking as part of the program.
  • This year, Fanshawe unveiled a new equity, diversity and inclusion framework based on core priorities designed to promote belonging throughout the institution. Equity-informed support and leadership are intended to foster a rich and inclusive community that reflects the diversity of Fanshawe’s students and staff.

Skill Shortages

Our members are addressing critical skills shortages by expanding experiential learning opportunities and investing in state-of-the-art facilities. Polytechnics are well-connected to industry and agile when it comes to responding to their changing needs.

  • As part of its commitment to address Ontario’s critical need for skilled trade workers, Conestoga opened the doors of its new Skilled Trades campus this year. The new campus features more than 150,000 sq ft of shops and labs, designed and equipped to meet the unique requirements of trades education and training. The modern campus stands to attract a more diverse student population.
  • With a transformative $10 million donation from the Price Foundation, RRC Polytech is expanding its programming in manufacturing. The investment will enable the institution to offer two new post-graduate diplomas, a project space for student-led research and micro-credentials designed to address critical skills and labour gaps.
  • In response to Canada’s health workforce shortages, Sheridan is meeting the demand for patient care by launching a new Honours Bachelor of Science Osteopathy degree. Graduates of the program will earn extensive clinical experience, making it the only Canadian osteopathy degree to meet the World Health Organization’s Type 1 standard.

As these examples illustrate, Canada’s polytechnics are advancing their impact and offering solutions to some of Canada’s most pressing challenges. The work continues in 2024 and beyond!

About the Author

Leah Clarke

Leah is responsible for implementing communication strategies and offering administrative support to Polytechnics Canada. Her role encompasses overseeing the creation of media content and coordinating events that promote the beneficial impact of polytechnic education. Leah holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Management degree from Dalhousie University.