The Canadian province of Ontario has attracted praise and criticism in equal measure after it announced that it plans to spend C$150 million to tempt drugmakers to the area.

John Wilkinson, Ontario’s minister of research and innovation, said that “the significant investments that biopharmaceutical companies make in health research are essential to the growth and success of our emerging biotechnology industry, and other sectors that are important to Ontario's economy". The cash will be made available to companies through grants, various loans, and funds for building infrastructure, research and training.

The Canadian Press quotes Mr Wilkinson as saying that “there's a race for global jobs, and our intention is to make sure that we win that race". He added that "it's very important for us that we partner with industry to make sure that global mandate is secured right here in Ontario".

Not everyone is convinced that this is the best policy, however. France Gelinas, a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party, the opposition to the Liberal government, said that “when you look at the ratio of what they [pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms] spend on developing and manufacturing versus how much they spend in promoting their products, a lot could be done with money they already have”. She added that "I have a really hard time seeing why our tax dollars should go to help those big corporations. It looks like blackmail."

The industry response was somewhat different and David Ricks, president of Eli Lilly Canada, said that "this partnership with the Ontario government will help strengthen our case by demonstrating that industry and government are committed to the common goal of innovation in this province".