Cost Advantages

Competitive Edge for Specialized Manufacturing

Thunder Bay features many cost advantages for Specialized Manufacturing businesses. Manufacturing facilities can be energy intensive, but with the 3rd lowest cost of hydro in Ontario, companies in Thunder Bay benefit from lower utility bills.

Top 3 Cost Competitive Countries infographic
Source: KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016

Thunder Bay has ample real estate available and numerous construction resources making it cost effective and easy for manufacturing businesses to design and build facilities to fit their needs. Plus, there are no development charges in Thunder Bay.

Canadian flag wavingCanada is an extremely business friendly country. It is consistently ranked highly competitive on major cost factors including labour, transportation, and taxes.

Canada has a lower dollar value, which increases international purchasing power for goods and services within Canada. This also means higher profits when selling to the US and global markets. This lower Canadian dollar has lead to business investment through out the country, as well as Ontario and the city of Thunder Bay.

The Canadian Government has created many funding programs to support and advance the business landscape of Northern Ontario. There are funding programs through FedNor and the Norther Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation that support the Manufacturing sector, as well as grants for hiring apprentices and furthering the knowledge of skilled tradespeople.

Queens ParkOntario is the best location for investment in Canada. Recently awarded this position by Site Selection Magazine's annual, "Best to Invest" ranking. Ontario is Canada's largest province, with a population of 13.8 million and workforce of 6 million.

Ontario offers competitive corporate tax rates, which are lower than the average federal-state CIT rate in the US. (Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance, 2017 Budget). With funding and incentive programs such as the Northern Ontario Business Development program, and programs such as NOHFC and FEDNOR, Ontario is committed to economic growth in the North.

Arial view of Thunder BayThunder Bay is the largest community on Lake Superior and an urban centre for all of Northwestern Ontario. When compared to US cities such as Minneapolis, Thunder Bay has 22% lower costs for digital industries, 20.8% lower R&D costs, and 21.8% lower costs for corporate services (such as international financial services and shared services centres). (Source: KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016). Thunder Bay businesses benefit from these lower corporate service costs because of lower average wages for administrative and customer service level employees as well as financial professionals.

With an extensive transportation network, businesses can optimize their shipping options based on the final destination of their goods by utilizing a mixture of air, sea, rail, and road transportation. Businesses in Thunder Bay benefit from this network which allows easy access for importing raw materials and delivering final products internationally. Thunder Bay's location and existing supply chain infrastructure is ideal for businesses that need to access not only North America, but a global market.

With no development charges, affordable cost of land and competitive construction costs, Thunder Bay offers prime real estate for development. Thunder Bay also features a superior quality of life and a lower cost of living for its residents.

Labour Rates

Cost of Labour for Specialized Manufacturing

Manufacturing jobs make up just over 5% of the labour force in Thunder Bay (Source: Stats Canada). These include skilled and unskilled labour, as well as management positions. Approximately 40% of Thunder Bay's labour force is unionized and many of these positions work within the manufacturing sector. (Source: Canadian Labour Congress).

Thunder Bay has a lower cost of labour when compared to many communities in Canada and the US. Being located within Ontario, Thunder Bay also benefits from lower healthcare costs than their US counterparts. Healthcare costs were $4,753 for Canada as compared to $10,348 in the USA (2016). Both of these advantages allow businesses in Thunder Bay be more cost effective and competitive.The average cost of labour in Thunder Bay is 7.79% lower than the Canadian average.

Average Wages, Salaries, and Commissions by Industry NAICS
 IndustryCanadaOntarioThunder Bay
11 Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting  $33,597.00  $30,267.00  $44,154.00
21 Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction  $115,799.00  $98,784.00  $90,879.00
22 Utilities  $95,832.00  $97,214.00  $93,820.00
23 Construction  $54,342.00  $52,791.00  $55,338.00
31-33 Manufacturing  $57,279.00  $59,678.00  $59,903.00
41 Wholesale trade  $65,833.00  $68,678.00  $54,495.00
44-45 Retail trade  $31,919.00  $32,572.00  $27,827.00
48-49 Transportation and warehousing  $52,249.00  $48,278.00  $52,511.00
51 Information and cultural industries  $62,081.00  $66,873.00  $48,427.00
52 Finance and insurance  $83,375.00  $94,452.00  $62,815.00
53 Real estate and rental and leasing  $54,253.00  $57,255.00  $39,346.00
54 Professional, scientific and technical services  $65,141.00  $67,417.00  $51,989.00
55 Management of companies and enterprises  $113,276.00  $112,492.00  
56 Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services  $33,023.00  $33,334.00  $29,504.00
61 Educational services  $50,799.00  $52,882.00  $52,925.00
62 Health care and social assistance  $46,812.00  $49,019.00  $49,124.00
71 Arts, entertainment and recreation  $27,175.00  $27,330.00  $24,486.00
72 Accommodation and food services  $19,967.00  $19,522.00  $18,167.00
81 Other services (except public administration)  $37,744.00  $38,361.00  $36,783.00
91 Public administration  $64,444.00  $68,098.00  $58,600.00
Total - Industry - North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)  $50,306.00  $52,139.00  $46,385.00

Source: Statistics Canada - 2016 Census. Catalogue Number 98-400-X2016364.

Comparion of Labour Costs for Selected Jurisdictions
Jurisdictions Salaries & Wages Benefits Total Labour
    Statutory Plans Other Benefits  
Percent of Payroll Percent of Payroll Average/Employee
North Bay, ON 61,066 8.2 27.0 82,536
Sault Ste. Marie 61,428 8.1 27.0 83,000
Sudbury 61,844 8.1 27.0 83,561
Thunder Bay, ON 61,969 8.1 27.0 83,706
Montreal, QC 61,737 11.2 25.8 84,547
Toronto, ON 64,463 7.9 27.0 86,983
Cedar Rapids, IA 60,725 9.0 34.3 87,060
Saginaw, MI 63,464 8.8 38.5 93,516
Minneapolis, MN 66,788 10.4 34.3 96,675

Source: Comparison of Business Costs for Northern Ontario Cities, MMK Consulting 2014


Hospital staff outside of Emergency Dept.One area in which Canadian companies are much more competitive than their US counterparts is healthcare. Ontario has a universal healthcare system, which means that average employer health costs per year for companies based in Ontario are 1/3 of the cost of the US average. (Source: MMK Consulting, 2016).





Site Rates

Create the Perfect Space to Fit your Business Needs 

Advanced manufacturing employee workingSpecialized Manufacturing includes such a diverse range of finished products that the necessary facilities will be different for every business. Thunder Bay offers extremely competitive land costs and construction costs, as well as zero development charges, making it an ideal location for expansion and new construction.

Thunder Bay already has a large amount of land zoned for new development of industrial and aviation focused businesses. Combined with our strategic location, extensive transportation network, and abundance of natural resources, Thunder Bay is a thriving centre for business and offers a lower cost of development.


Business Infographic

Building Acquisition

Thunder Bay also has a number of existing properties that are move-in ready for many businesses. For example, Intercity Industrial has a 100,000 square foot warehouse available and there is a 60,000 square foot heated facility available at the Port Authority.

Click here for further information on buying an existing business in Thunder Bay

Click here to view current land and property listings in Thunder Bay.

Utility Rates

Thunder Bay is very well serviced, providing competitive utility costs to local business-es. Specialized Manufacturing can be an energy-intensive industry that greatly benefits from a lower cost of utilities. These lower costs, coupled with a fast, reliable com-munications infrastructure, make Thunder Bay an ideal location for manufacturing facilities.

Ultility infographic


Picture of Internet routerThunder Bay is served by most national communications companies as well as TBaytel which is owned by the City of Thunder Bay. TBaytel has a 110 year history in Thunder Bay and has grown to be the largest independently owned communications company in Canada. They provide the fastest internet connection in Thunder Bay and the fibre trunk runs directly through the city (and is connected to the largest data centre or carrier hotel in Canada at Front Street). TBaytel provides reliable mobility, tv internet, telephone and security for business clients. Click here to request a quote for your business services.

Hydro Costs


Distribution Charge

  • Regulated Price Plan customers $0.0172 / kWh

  • NON Regulated Price Plan customers $0.0171 / kWh

  • Monthly Fixed Charge $27.95 / month

Regulatory Charges

  • Market Service Charge $0.0039 / kWh

  • Supply administration charge $0.25/month

Small Business Rates Valid November 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019

  • General Service with Demand less than 50kw

  • Cost: OFF peak $0.065 / kWh

  • MID peak $0.094 / kWh

  • ON peak $0.132 / kWh

  • Delivery: Network & Connection  $0.0106 / kWh

Water and Property Tax Billing

Arial shot of Thunder Bay

Full Service Property Tax Rates (effective  2018 )

  • Commercial 4.19%

  • Industrial 4.64%

  • Large Industrial 5.23%



Water treatment facility

Full property tax rate details here.

Water rates (effective April 1, 2018)

  • Volumetric Charge = $1.652 /m³

  • Fixed cost = $0.755 per day ($276 annum)

Water Rates
Meter Size Cost Per Day Cost Per Annum
15mm, 18mm $1.235 $451
20mm $2.574 $940
25mm $3.259 $1,190
40mm $6.177 $2,255
50mm $8.313 $3,034
75mm $14.493 $5,290
100mm $22.611 $8,253
150mm $45.170 $16,487
200mm $64.214 $23,438
250mm $92.287 $33,685

Sewer Rate = 90% of the volumetric charge and fixed cost. Applies to all owners/occupants of separately assessed parcels of land connected to the sewage system. Visit the City of Thunder Bay's Revenue Division online for more information:

Union Gas

The table below shows the new, approved rates used to calculate your natural gas bill as of October 1, 2018. Annual bill impacts exclude the temporary charges and credits shown on the price adjustment lines on your bill. The annual impacts are based on a typical Rate 10 customer in Northwestern Ontario using 93,000 m³ of natural gas a year.

Gas Rates
Charges Rates at October 1, 2018 Annual increase or decrease
Gas Used 10.5613 ¢/m³ $886.13
Gas Price Adjustment -2.1668 ¢/m³ -$1,100.31
Transportation to Union Gas 5.8487 ¢/m³ $12.20
Transportation Price Adjustment 0.1855 ¢/m³ $131.60
Storage 1.6596 ¢/m³ $4.10
Storage Price Adjustment 0.0316 ¢/m³ $0.00
First 1,000 m³ 
Next 9,000 m³ 
Next 20,000 m³ 
Next 70,000 m³
All over 100,000 m³
7.9011 ¢/m³
6.4155 ¢/m³
5.7447 ¢/m³
5.1855 ¢/m³
3.0670 ¢/m
Cap and Trade (Included in Delivery on the bill) 0.0000  ¢/m³ -$3,108.16
Delivery Price Adjustment 0.0000 ¢/m³ $0.00
Cap and Trade Price Adjustments (Included in Delivery on the bill) -0.6818 ¢/m³ $0.00
Monthly Charge $70.00 $0.00
Total Annual Impact   -$3,153.85

Please visit  or call 1 888 774-3111 for more information.

Transportation Rates

Centrally Located Supply Chain Access

Shipping goods is critical to the success of Specialized Manufacturing businesses. Whether it is shipping in raw materials for production or sending finished products to customers, transportation rates play a large factor in a company’s supply chain and bottom line.

Having access to different methods of transportation allows businesses in Thunder Bay to optimize how they ship, and how much they spend on shipping.

Thunder Bay's central location in Canada and proximity to the US border provide manufacturing companies with an extensive transportation network that enables competitively priced global shipment options. Highways connect to rail, seaport, and airport, creating efficiencies in shipping and logistics. 

By utilizing rail transportation, businesses can not only decrease fuel costs, but contribute to their sustainability commitments. Freight rail moves approximately 70% of Canada's surface freight on a ton-mile basis but only produces 3.4% of the transportation sectors greenhouse gas emissions.

CN LocomotiveCN Rail: With over 19,000 (11,806 mi) kms of rail track running through Canada and the US, CN Rail provides easy access to international markets. Learn more about carload prices, intermodal prices, and fuel surcharges with CN Rail. Contact CN Rail team to get a quote for your specific shipping needs.

CP LocomotiveCP Rail: With approximately 20,000 kilometres (12,500 mi) of track running across Canada and into the US, stretching from Montreal to Vancouver, and as far north as Edmonton, as well as hubs in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, and New York,  CP Rail provides easy access to international markets. Learn about the pricing and tariffs and get an individualized quote for shipping your goods with CP Rail

Airport landing stripThunder Bay International Airport: Flying approximately 800,00 passengers every year, Thunder Bay International Airport is the first Canadian airport to eliminate its airport improvement fee. Learn about fees charges for aircraft landing, and parking.

Arial photo of portThe Port of Thunder Bay: With 400 ships coming through annually and approximately 9 million tonnes of goods shipped annually, The Port of Thunder Bay ensures businesses have a cost effective shipping method for international markets  Learn about tariffs on goods that come into the port as well as rates for vessels


Competitive Corporate Tax Rates

Thunder Bay businesses benefit from competitive corporate tax rates at all three levels of government. When specifically looking at provincial and federal corporate taxes, Thunder Bay's tax rates are competitive world wide and lower than many US states.

Combined CIT Rate graph

Ontario has a combined provincial (11.5%) and federal (15%) corporate income tax rate of 26.5%, making Ontario's combined general federal-provincial CIT rate lower than the average of G20 countries and lower than the average federal + state CIT rate in the United States.  While recent changes to US tax laws may have impacted this data, at this time Thunder Bay offers competitive tax rates that are lower than the average federal and state CIT rate.

Local Taxes

In 2017, Thunder Bay ranked below the Ontario average for industrial taxes. Thunder Bay's Property Tax Per Square Foot for Municipalities with a population greater than 100,000 was $1.10, while the Ontario average was $1.12. Thunder Bay is also competitive when comparing combined municipal tax, water, and wastewater burden.

Average Municipal Tax and Water Burden graph

R&D Tax Credits

Canada is encouraging a growing business landscape across the country and offers companies a much higher rate of R&D Tax Credits than the US and many other countries. Businesses in Thunder Bay can find financial assistance at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels. Learn more about funding and incentive programs for your business.

Camparison of R&D Tax Credits graph

For additional information please contact the Development Officer at (807) 625-3960 or visit our Contact Us page.


Sign Up for the Go To Thunder Bay Newsletter

Why Thunder Bay

Technicians working in lab

Thunder Bay is Northwestern Ontario's commercial, administrative and medical hub.


“We ship every day… Plane leaves here at 5 o’clock every day. Our goods are in their owners hands as quick as 18 hours anywhere in North America.” - Owner, Cinevate Inc.

Quick Stats

Logo Map