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The North isn’t what it used to be.

Discover communities that are primed for investment.

Northern Manitoba is home to several key industries that are ready for expansion, and holds the potential for new industries to make their entrance into Manitoba.


Manitoba’s northern forests provide an enormous opportunity for regional and industry stakeholders who want to explore the economic, social and environmental benefits of Manitoba’s vast northern forest resource.

The forestry industry still has room for growth, with opportunities to optimize sustainable annual cut allowances, and opportunities for industry innovation, diversification and value-add exploration.

In 2015, Manitoba’s annual allowable harvest utilization was 18 per cent. This represents a volume harvested of 1,498,000 cubic metres, on 10,686 hectares of land. While there are significant barriers and complexity to optimizing annual cut allowances, including the necessary capital required, there is opportunity to explore the wider forest and timber eco-system to identify new opportunities.

With good markets for forest products (including a growing bioeconomy), an underutilized wood supply in the region, a willing and able workforce, and existing infrastructure, Manitoba’s northern towns and communities are well-positioned for growth in the forest sector.

More information is available through Manitoba’s Forestry Branch, as well as the Forest Resource Optimization Strategy, available in Spring 2020 from CEDF.

Source: The State of Canada’s Forests, 2017

Learn more about the development of forestry in Manitoba

The State of Canada’s Forests Annual Report 2017.

Manufacturing and Processing

Manitoba has a burgeoning manufacturing and processing industry that makes a wide variety of products including aerospace components, buses, farm equipment, french fries, paper products, furniture, windows, clothing and outerwear. Key sub-sectors include processed foods, transportation equipment (aerospace and heavy duty ground vehicles), primary metals, electrical products, machinery and chemicals.

Manufacturing represents approximately 10 per cent of Manitoba’s economic output, and is the largest contributor to GDP among industries. Manitoba manufacturers employ about 10 per cent of Manitoba’s total employed workforce, and they ship about $17 billion worth of goods annually, with about $9 billion worth of goods exported to foreign markets.

Prominent companies working in manufacturing and processing in Northern Manitoba include:

Canadian Kraft Paper Industries Ltd.

Kraft operates a facility in The Pas that produces heavy kraft paper, which is typically used in making multiwall shipping sacks for sugar, seed, feed, potatoes, cement, etc. The mill ships kraft paper primarily to export markets in the United States, Mexico and around the world.


A global leader in engineered wood products, Louisiana-Pacific Corporation manufactures oriented strand board at its facility in Swan River. The company recently made a $95 million investment in the facility to allow it to also produce panel and lap siding. The facility is the company’s first SmartSide siding mill in Canada.

Vale Canada

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Brazilian miner Vale SA, Vale Canada Limited operates a milling, smelting and refining operation in Thompson, to support its significant nickel mining operations there. The smelting and refining operation will be replaced by an expanded mill and concentrator facility, which is currently being built.


Established in 2010 in Thompson, the Global Aerospace Centre for Icing and Environmental Research (GLACIER) is a limited joint venture between Rolls-Royce Canada Limited and Pratt & Whitney Canada. The facility performs year-round aerospace engine testing and certification, specializing in engine icing, as well as performance, endurance and specialty testing.

In combination with the GE Aviation Engine Testing Research and Development Centre in Winnipeg, GLACIER has helped make Manitoba a global centre for aerospace engine testing, with three of the world’s largest engine manufacturers conducting certification testing here for all of their new engines in development. This represents more than 80 per cent of all engines used in today’s commercial jet liners.

In addition to the above, the region hosts a diverse array of small and medium sized companies serving local industries and markets in mining, forestry, construction, food, furniture and wood products.

Mining and Exploration

The mining and petroleum industries make up the second largest primary resource industry of Manitoba’s economy. There are significant opportunities for exploration and future mine development in northern Manitoba. The 2018 value of mining and petroleum production totalled $2.5 billion (preliminary estimate) and directly employed approximately 5,700 people. In 2017, Manitoba’s mining and petroleum industries accounted for approximately 3.3 per cent of the province’s nominal GDP (basic prices) and 2.5 per cent of international exports of goods.

Mining and exploration

The Provincial Department of Economic Development, Investment and Trade has compiled a Manitoba Mineral Sector Profile that provides information about the size of the industry, dominant activities, structure and concentration, exploration and development highlights, sector capabilities and mineral endowment.

Economic Development, Investment and Trade also details Exploration and Development Highlights 2000-2017 which provides an archival overview of exploration and development activity in the province.

Explore our downloadable information on mining to learn more about investing in mining and exploration in Manitoba.

Manitoba Mining, Exploration and Geoscience 2023-24

This informational guide provides a snapshot of Manitoba’s mineral activity over the last year.

Manitoba First Nations Mineral Development Protocol: Co-Chairs Report.

This report identifies seven priority areas that make up the key components of the proposed mineral development protocol.

Manitoba First Nations Mineral Development Action Plan.

This report is a response to the Manitoba First Nations Mineral Development Protocol: Co-Chairs Report and includes several highlights and a protocol template.

Manitoba First Nations Mineral Development Protocol Template.

This template is a starting point for respectful discussions with First Nations and includes a process guide and matrix for Crown-Indigenous consultation.

Consultation Matrix (Schedule B & C of the Manitoba First Nations Mineral Development Protocol Template).

This document is a process guide and matrix for Crown- Indigenous consultation.


Manitoba’s tourism industry is growing. As one of the province’s leading industries, tourism has unlimited potential for growth. Travel Manitoba is aiming to increase tourism expenditures to rank fifth among Canadian provinces by 2020. This growth will lead to a broad range of economic, social and environmental benefits for our visitors, residents and communities. Investing in tourism will make Manitoba an even greater place to live and work.

Sustainable funding is the key to ensuring Travel Manitoba can be competitive in an expanding global tourism marketplace. After many months of advocating for a sustainable funding model for tourism and thanks to the influential support of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the Manitoba Government adopted Plan 95/5 – A Sustainable Tourism Investment developed by Travel Manitoba. This investment model positions Manitoba as a leader in tourism innovation.

Plan 95/5 is a performance-based model that has the potential to increase tourism revenues by bringing new money to the province and its tourism businesses. In addition, the plan will deliver additional tax revenues to the province for other priorities such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure – benefitting all Manitobans.

Learn more about the growing tourism industry in Manitoba

Northern Manitoba Tourism Strategy.

The Manitoba government and Travel Manitoba launched the Northern Manitoba Tourism Strategy, a five-year plan to support the growth of northern tourism.

When we all work together, big things can be accomplished. Tourism depends on the support of the entire community to be successful. From local residents who volunteer their time, businesses that collaborate on development initiatives and governments that provide financial support – it takes every member of the region to stand together to promote their region’s finest assets.

69 per cent of all Manitoba tourist visits occur regionally.

It is a misconception that tourists only want to visit the “big city.” Most of the tourism in this province happens right in our own back yards. Take pride in the tremendous beauty of our region and show it off.

The tourism sector creates employment opportunities.

In Manitoba, tourism supports 20,640 jobs. Over $625.1 million in annual tax revenues are contributed to the economy by tourism wages and direct spending. The industry supports 12,900 direct tourism jobs and 20,640 jobs in total. Tourism jobs also provide valuable opportunities for youth and first-time workers to enter the work force due to the availability of part-time and seasonal work. Beyond entry-level positions, tourism creates a wide range of options for all types of employment at all pay scales.

Tourism is a real leader in Manitoba’s economy and it is critically important that we value this resource and foster its development for the continued prosperity of the province.

$339.4 million in total provincial and municipal taxes per year are attributed to tourism. Under previous investment through 96/4, there is the potential for $288 million in new money to the province through tourism expenditures, resulting in an additional $46 million in provincial tax revenues. With the rapid growth in this industry, it makes sense to continue to invest in tourism – for economic, social and environmental benefits for the entire region.

Tourism is bigger than wheat.

Tourism is an export sector, as 1.4 million out-of-province visitors generate $589.4 million in export revenue – higher than the export revenue generated from wheat. Unlike other export sectors that make products and ship them overseas, tourism brings its customers to Manitoba itself – the people, the places, the food, and culture.

Tourism generates $1.6 billion in spending every year.

That is almost 3 per cent of Manitoba’s GDP. The revenue from this spending does not just benefit the tourism industry. The flow-through effect of travel means that a portion of every dollar spent by a visitor ends up in the hands of a secondary business and contributes to the development of the community. Manitoba is a showcase of diverse cultural offerings and unique immersive experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Tourism is changing. The vast majority of travellers are no longer just looking for a sunny beach to lie on for a week. Visitors to Manitoba, in particular, are looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will envelop them in culture, authenticity, exploration and adventure, and create memories that will stay with them forever.

Tourism is the fourth fastest growing industry in the world.

With growth like this, the possibilities are endless. People around the world are travelling more than ever, and continually seeking out authentic, meaningful experiences – just like the ones we pride ourselves on in Manitoba.


Northern Manitoba is characterized as a large geographical area that is home to urban, rural and remote communities that are serviced by a number of modes of transportation.

Roads and Highways

The provincial government maintains a network of highways north of the 53rd Parallel, allowing personal vehicles, commercial carriers and public service vehicles to access northern rural and remote communities and industries in northern Manitoba. This network is important for opening the North to mining, hydroelectric development, logging, commercial fishing and tourism. An important part of the transportation system is a 2,500 kilometre network of winter roads in the north and on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. This network not only connects 25 remote northern communities to neighbouring communities and to the provincial highway networks but also supports the movement of critical goods such as food, fuel and construction materials during the winter months. The winter road program is administered by the Manitoba government and relies on partnerships with local communities, First Nations, and the federal government.


Access by air to northern communities is provided through a range from traditional airports to gravel surface airstrips to water landing sites. Airports or airstrips are found in 58 northern communities, including 24 provincial government locations that serve remote communities. As an air transportation hub for northern Manitoba, the Thompson Airport is the second busiest for passenger traffic in the province. Manitoba’s northernmost airport, the Churchill Airport, has the longest runway in Canada’s north and serves communities and businesses across the Arctic region, particularly Nunavut. Air transportation is not only important for delivering time sensitive cargo and connecting remote communities to each other but also important for the delivery of medical, policing, fire fighting and search and rescue emergency services.

Rail lines

Freight and passenger rail services are provided on more than 800 miles of railway lines in northern Manitoba, which includes the 545 miles of railway from The Pas to Churchill, known as the “Bay Line” and operated by the Arctic Gateway Group. The Pas serves as the Bay Line interchange point for Canadian National Railway and the Keewatin Railway Company, a First Nations owned railway that operates a route from Sherrit Junction (near Flin Flon) to Pukatawagan. Truck/rail interchanges are provided in Thompson and The Pas. Six remote, rail‐only northern communities rely on the rail service as the only surface transportation option for freight and personal travel. Passenger rail services are provided by Via Rail.


The Manitoba government operates four seasonal ferry services in northern Manitoba, providing access between communities and to all-season roads. This network of roads, airports, rail lines and seaport comprising Manitoba’s northern transportation system links to a network of transportation assets and services in Winnipeg that creates a hub providing access across Canada as well as south to the United States and Mexico.

Commercial Fishing

Manitoba’s inland commercial fishing industry contributes significant dollars to the province’s economy with an estimated market value of $ 82 million in fish being harvested on an annual basis. Within Canada’s inland fisheries, Manitoba is one of the largest producers of freshwater fish. Commercial fishing provides income and a way of life for nearly 3,500 Manitobans. The inland fishery is an important element of not just Manitoba’s but Canada’s character and holds particular importance with Indigenous peoples and in northern and remote communities.  The industry continues to be one of, and at times the only, major industry available to many of Manitoba’s northern communities in the Look North region.  Most of the fish harvested is sold to the U.S. market but there are also significant amounts sold overseas to countries like France and Japan.  The Manitoba Inland Commercial Fishery accounts for approximately 25% of Canada’s production of freshwater commercial harvest.  The aging industry combined with the ability of fishers to now sell their harvest to other buyers aside from Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC), provides new opportunities in the industry.

The industry is seasonable in nature with the majority of commercial fishing occurring in the open water spring and fall seasons.  There is also winter fishing occurring in many communities.  Most commercial fishers deliver their harvest to FFMC agents, private agents or now increasingly to other buyers.  The majority of commercial fishers, 80% to 85%, deliver their harvest to FFMC with the expectation that other buyers will buy an increasingly more significant share of the annual harvest.  Over 80% of commercial fishers are Indigenous with many living on First Nations.  Increasingly the issue of more value added processing in the communities along with eco-certification will play an increasingly role in the future discussions of the industry.

Non-Timber Forest Products

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) are products – other than timber or firewood – harvested from forests. Manitoba’s forests are rich in these unique wild crafts and floral supplies, wild foods, and wild medicinal products. Our Northern communities are rich with local skills and knowledge based on sustainable harvest and use.

Manitoba harvesters in communities throughout the north are contributing to the development of a more sustainable economy for many small to medium sized communities in the north, while preserving and applying traditional knowledge.

CEDF resources for Non-Timber Forest Products harvesters can be found here.

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