Ottawa, Quebec commit $100M to boost semiconductor capacity

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media following a tour at IBM in Bromont, Que., Friday, April 26, 2024. The federal government is announcing an investment of nearly $60 million in semiconductors, a technology omnipresent in electronic devices, also used to develop artificial intelligence. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi. CMU

The federal and Quebec governments are spending close to $100 million to boost the country’s manufacturing capacity for semiconductors, which are vital in technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum computing.

At a news conference Friday in Bromont, Que., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Ottawa will invest $59.9 million to help fund IBM Canada’s semiconductor packaging facility in the town about 70 kilometres southeast of Montreal. The investment will also go toward the Bromont-based MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre, a research group that tries to speed up the commercialization of components in digital technologies.

The world, Trudeau said, is looking for dependable sources of products that spur economic growth, and he said semiconductors are one of the many products Canada can be trusted to deliver.

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“As we are in terms of energy, quantum computing, robotics … these are things that the world is increasingly looking for,” he said, “reliable, strong responsible partners like Canada to be at the heart of it.”

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Quebec, for its part, is offering IBM Canada $38.9 million in loans to help the company buy equipment, increase capacity at its Bromont plant, and create a new generation of switches.

Provincial Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon told the news conference that within the funding envelope is a $32-million “forgivable” loan for new equipment to package semiconductor circuitry, but he didn’t give details about the loan conditions. Another $7-million loan, he said, will help automate a packaging assembly line for switches destined “for the entire telecommunications industry.”

A news release from the federal government says the funding from both levels of government will help create 280 jobs in the region.

IBM Canada says its plant in Bromont is one of the continent’s largest chip assembly and testing facilities and that the money will solidify Canada’s place in the supply chain for advanced packaging of semiconductors.

The Bromont plant, IBM says, “transforms advanced semiconductor components into state-of-the-art microelectronic solutions,” and works closely with the company’s complex in Albany, N.Y.

The agreements announced on Friday “will help to further establish a corridor of semiconductor innovation from New York to Bromont,” IBM said.

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