The federal budget was presented on March 22, 2017. This budget is a continuation of successive budgets and policy measures focused on research and innovation. There is an added focus by the Liberal government on skills development.
The major items of interest are the new superclusters fund and the 6 economic sectors it is focused on. Another major item is the consolidation of programs started under the Jenkin’s panel review. The one recommendation that was not implemented now appears to be on track for implementation with a new organization or council – Innovation Canada, a consolidation of the major industrial programs into the Strategic Infrastructure Fund, and a review of the NRC and business innovation programs.
Other areas that may be of interest is the proposed intellectual property strategy, Innovative Solutions Canada (procurement), and the venture capital initiative.
• Innovation and Skills Plan – The plan is focused on skills, research technology and commercialization, program simplification, and investment and scale. It also identifies 6 areas it will target: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources.
Target outcomes include:
o Grow Canada’s goods and services exports—from resources, advanced manufacturing and others—by 30% by 2025.
o Increase the clean technology sector’s contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).
o Double the number of high-growth companies in Canada, particularly in the digital, clean technology and health technology sectors, from 14,000 to 28,000 by 2025.
o Expand the level of support for job training under the Labour Market Transfer.
o Agreements, including expanding eligibility for programs and services under the Labour Market Development Agreements.
• Lifelong Learning – The budget proposes a series of measures to promote lifelong learning and skills development. The most significant is $225 million over 4 years starting in 2018-19 set aside for a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada.
• Innovation Canada – A review of innovation programs to be consolidated and simplified under a new platform led by ISED.
• Innovation through Superclusters – $950 million over 5 years starting in 2017-18 based on the $800 million allocation in Budget 2016 and $150 million from public transit and green infrastructure from the 2016 Fall Economic Statement. To be launched in 2017 on a competitive basis. This program represent the best opportunity for the research and technology parks to compete for funds in the year ahead in addition to perhaps the new Strategic Innovation Fund.
• Strategic Innovation Fund – $1.25 billion over 5 years consolidating existing business innovation programs – SADI, TDP, and the Automotive Innovation Fund.
• Impact Canada Fund – A new mission or “challenge” based approach for Canada’s big challenges. 2 streams – cleantech $75 million over 2 years and smart cities $200M over 11 years.
• Pan Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy – $125 million. It will promote collaboration between Canada’s main centres of expertise in Montreal, Toronto-Waterloo, and Edmonton.
• Innovative Solutions Canada – Procurement program $50 million in 2017-2018. Will also renew Cost and Profit Assurance Program at $3 million and amend legislation to make procurement more efficient.
• Venture capital catalyst initiative – $40 million over 3 years for late stage venture capital. It is expected to inject $1.5 billion into Canada’s innovation capital market.
• Futurpreneur Canada – $14 million over 2 years.
• Chief Science Advisor and secretariat to be established with $2 million budget.
• A new Intellectual Property Strategy will be developed in the year ahead.
• Review and modernization of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Act.
• Results of the Fundamental Science Review will be released in the coming months.
• National Research Council will be reviewed to assess how it can best support the Innovation and Skills plan.
DEBT AND DEFICIT
• 2017-2018: $28.5 billion deficit; $665.5 billion debt
• 2021-2022: $18.8 billion deficit; $756.9 billion debt
THE CANADA INFRASTRUCTURE BANK
The Canada Infrastructure Bank will be responsible for investing at least $35 billion over 11 years, using loans, loan guarantees and equity investments. These investments will be made strategically, with a focus on large, transformative projects such as regional transit plans, transportation networks and electricity grid interconnections.
To ensure that funds can begin to be invested in a timely manner, the Government will soon propose legislation establishing the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The Government will begin a process to identify the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Board of Directors, with the goal of having the Canada Infrastructure Bank operational in late 2017.
McMaster Innovation Park