The following is a brief analysis of science-related highlights from the proposed 2016 Federal Budget, entitled “Growing the Middle Class”. Throughout the year, CAP will continue to monitor government policy that could affect physics in Canada.
This brief is intended to capture those highlights most relevant to members of CAP, and does not include all aspects of the investments made to research and post-secondary education.
The full budget can be found at http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/docs/plan/toc-tdm-en.html in English and http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/docs/plan/toc-tdm-fr.html in French.
The budget promises large spending increases and large deficits. Although the budget document provides no plan back to surplus, it predicts that the Debt-to-GDP ratio will be lower in 5 years than it is today. The Government argues that now is the time for investment since the current Debt-to-GDP is low, and interest rates are very low.
The Government promises to create a new innovation agenda in the next year “which will outline a new vision for Canada’s economy as a centre of global innovation, renowned for its science, technology, resourceful citizens and globally competitive companies.”
The Budget describes “a new vision for Canada’s economy: to build Canada as a centre of global innovation. Canada will be propelled by its creative and entrepreneurial citizens; its leading science and technology; its excellent innovation infrastructure; and its globally competitive companies offering high-quality products and services, thriving within a business environment that supports commercialization and growth.”
The budget proposes several investments to science, research infrastructure, and post-secondary education. The budget writes “The Government understands that the creation of knowledge and development of highly qualified people are vital for Canada’s prosperity in the global economy. “
Key Budget Items that will impact physics research:
- $95 million per year, starting 2016-17, to granting councils ($30 million to NSERC)
- $2 billion over three years, starting in 2016-17, to a new Post-Secondary Institution strategic investment fund
- $50 million over 5 years, starting in 2017-18, to the Perimeter Institute
- $14 million over 2 years, starting in 2016-17, to Mitacs graduate internship program
- $50 million over 5 years, starting in 2016-17, to the National Optics Institute
- $800 million over 4 years, starting in 2016-17, to Innovation Clusters
- up to $379 million over 8 years, starting in 2017–18, for the Canadian Space Agency
- $50 million in 2016-17 to NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program
- $114.4 million to Federal Science supporting Canadian businesses ($87.2 million to Natural Resources Canada projects; $8.7 million for Canadian Space Agency projects; and $18.5 million for National Research Council of Canada projects)
- $345.3 million over 5 years, starting in 2016-17, to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, and the National Research Council to take action to address air pollution in Canada.
- $132.5 million over 5 years, starting in 2016-17, to support clean technology research, development, and demonstration activities ($50 million to Sustainable Development Technology Canada and $82.5 million to Natural Resources Canada)
- $62.5 million over 2 years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to support the deployment of infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels.
- $2.5 million over 2 years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to facilitate regional dialogues and studies that identify the most promising electricity infrastructure projects with the potential to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions.
- $50 million over 2 years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to invest in technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector.
- $2.1 million over 2 years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to enhance clean technology data.
Furthermore, the budget signals a review of federal support for fundamental science over the coming year that will include the granting councils.
The budget has also proposed increases to the Canada Student Grant amounts by 50% helping students from low- and middle-income families as well as part-time students cover the costs of education. It also increases the base earning amount to $25000 before Canada Student Loans need to be repaid.
Details from the Full 2016 Budget Proposal
“The Government understands that the creation of knowledge and development of highly qualified people are vital for Canada’s prosperity in the global economy.”
“Recognizing the fundamental role of investigator-led discovery research in an innovative society, Budget 2016 proposes to provide an additional $95 million per year, starting in 2016–17, on an ongoing basis to the granting councils.”
This funding is in addition to the funding provided to the granting councils in Budget 2015 of $46 million in 2016–17 and ongoing. Thus, a total of $141 million in new annual resources will be made available to the granting councils going forward.
Of the $95 million available to the granting agencies for investigator-led discovery research, $30 million is allocated to NSERC. Combined with commitments made in 2015/16, the total NSERC budget will increase by $45 million.
Post-Secondary Institution Strategic Investment Fund
“Recognizing the value to Canada of strong post-secondary institutions, Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $2 billion over three years, starting in 2016–17, for a new Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, a time-limited initiative that will support up to 50 per cent of the eligible costs of infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions and affiliated research and commercialization organizations, in collaboration with provinces and territories.”
This initiative is aimed at enhancing and modernizing research and commercialization facilities on Canadian campuses, as well as industry-relevant training facilities at college and polytechnic institutions, and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environmental sustainability of these types of facilities. Note that the budget suggests that it intends universities to use the funds to advance “excellence in a specialized field of strength.”
“Along with the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing, the Perimeter Institute is a key institution in the region’s Quantum Valley innovation ecosystem, which fuels Canada’s leadership in new quantum technologies expected to transform and create new industries. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $50 million over five years, beginning in 2017–18, to the Perimeter Institute to strengthen its position as a world-leading research centre for theoretical physics. Each federal dollar will be matched by two dollars from the Institute’s other partners.”
Mitacs Globalink Program
“This funding will support 825 internships and fellowships annually, helping Canadian universities to attract top students from around the world and enabling Canadian students to take advantage of training opportunities abroad.”
National Optics Institutes
“To support the Institute’s work with Canadian businesses, Budget 2016 proposes to provide it with $50 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.”
Review of federal support for fundamental science
Budget 2016 also announces that the Minister of Science will undertake a comprehensive review of all elements of federal support for fundamental science over the coming year. In order to strengthen the granting councils and Canada’s research ecosystem, the review will:
- Assess opportunities to increase the impact of federal support on Canada’s research excellence and the benefits that flow from it;
- Examine the rationale for current targeting of granting councils’ funding and bring greater coherence to the diverse range of federal research and development priorities and funding instruments;
- Assess the support for promising emerging research leaders; and
- Ensure there is sufficient flexibility to respond to emerging research opportunities for Canada, including big science projects and other international collaborations.
As a result, some future realignment of the granting councils might be considered.
“Budget 2016 proposes to make available up to $800 million over four years, starting in 2017–18, to support innovation networks and clusters as part of the Government’s upcoming Innovation Agenda.”
Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $379 million over eight years, starting in 2017–18, for the Canadian Space Agency to formalize negotiations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and undertake the necessary activities to extend Canada’s participation to 2024. Canada will also continue to take part in other important international collaborations with the potential to build on Canada’s strengths and develop the space industry sector’s capabilities. This includes Canada’s continued participation in the European Space Agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems program, for which $30 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, was provided in Budget 2015.
NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program
“The National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program supports innovative and growth-oriented small and medium-sized companies through advisory services, research and development project funding and networking. While further work to develop the Innovation Agenda takes place, Budget 2016 proposes to provide the Program with an additional $50 million in 2016-17 to increase the number of companies served by the Program’s highly qualified Industrial Technology Advisors nationwide. This funding complements the additional investments being proposed to support work experience for recent graduates through the Youth Employment Strategy.”
Federal Science Supporting Canadian Businesses
“The Government of Canada directly undertakes a variety of research, development and other scientific activities at laboratories and research facilities across the country, drawing from the expertise and support of some 35,000 federal scientists, technicians and other personnel. Strong federal science capabilities fulfill regulatory mandates in areas such as health, safety and the environment, and support innovation in industries including clean energy, information and communications technology, and transportation. As part of the federal infrastructure initiative, investments will be made to modernize, green and increase the capabilities of federal science, research and innovation facilities. Funding that will support business innovation includes:
- $87.2 million for Natural Resources Canada projects across the country that support research in forestry, mining and minerals, earth sciences and mapping, and innovation in energy technology. This investment will extend the useful life of aging laboratories and reduce the impact of antiquated work spaces on the delivery of Natural Resources Canada’s science priorities.
- $8.7 million for Canadian Space Agency projects, including the rehabilitation of the anechoic chamber used at its Shirleys Bay, Ontario facility to simulate space conditions for the testing of large spacecraft and instruments. This investment will allow the Agency to continue to support technology development in Canada’s space sector through state-of -the-art assembly, integration and testing capabilities.
- $18.5 million for National Research Council of Canada projects, including a leading-edge wave-making system at the St. John’s towing tank, which is used to evaluate the performance of marine technologies and vehicles. The investment will respond to industry needs in areas including ship building, deep water mining, and search and rescue.”
Reducing Air Pollution
“Air pollution harms the environment and the health of Canadians, and gives rise to economic costs. While progress is being made to address air emissions from domestic sources (i.e., industry and vehicles) and from transboundary sources, air pollution remains a concern. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $345.3 million over five years, starting in 2016-17, to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada and the National Research Council to take action to address air pollution in Canada. The funding will allow these organizations to conduct research on and monitor air pollution sources as well as health and environmental impacts; report to Canadians on air pollution sources and on local, regional and national air quality; continue to implement the Air Quality Management System jointly with provinces and territories; administer and enforce existing regulatory and non-regulatory instruments to reduce air pollution; and maintain the economic and policy capacity to develop new policy approaches and regulatory instruments to improve air quality. These efforts will be complemented through advances in Canadian clean technology, providing air pollution reduction solutions alongside economic opportunities, and contributing to sustainable, inclusive prosperity for Canadians.”
Accelerating Clean Technology Development
“Investing in the research, development and demonstration of new clean technologies accelerates the innovation required to bring these technologies closer to commercialization. This will help meet climate change objectives, increase the productivity and competitiveness of Canadian firms, and create clean jobs. Budget 2016 proposes to provide over $130 million over five years, starting in 2016-17, to support clean technology research, development and demonstration activities:
- $50 million over four years, starting in 2017-18, to Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) for the SD Tech Fund. These resources will enable SDTC to announce new clean technology projects in 2016 that support the development and demonstration of new technologies that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil.
- $82.5 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to support research, development and demonstration of clean energy technologies. These resources will accelerate the innovation required to bring clean energy technologies closer to commercialization, reducing the environmental impacts of energy production and creating clean jobs.”
Investing in Electric Vehicle and Alternative Transportation Fuels Infrastructure
“Early action is needed to support the transition to low-carbon transportation fuels, as vehicle choices made today will determine the mix of technologies on the road in 2030. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $62.5 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to support the deployment of infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels, including charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and natural gas and hydrogen refuelling stations. The Government will advance these objectives by working with provinces and territories, municipalities and the private sector. These resources will also support technology demonstration projects that advance electric vehicle charging technology.”
Advancing Regional Electricity Cooperation
“Significant investment in Canada’s electricity sector will be needed over the next 20 years to replace aging infrastructure and meet growing demand for electricity. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $2.5 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to facilitate regional dialogues and studies that identify the most promising electricity infrastructure projects with the potential to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions. This initiative will help shape future investments to maximize economic and environmental benefits.”
Developing Cleaner Oil and Gas Technologies
“Developing Canada’s hydrocarbon resources in cleaner, more sustainable ways will be critical to enable the sector’s continuing contributions to Canadian prosperity. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $50 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to invest in technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector.”
Improving Data on the Clean Technology Sector
“Comprehensive, regularly published data on Canada’s clean technology sector will support efforts to monitor the contributions this sector is already making to the Canadian economy. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $2.1 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to Natural Resources Canada to enhance clean technology data, in collaboration with Statistics Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. This funding will result in a statistical framework that provides regularly published information on the clean technology sector’s economic contributions to the Canadian economy and help the Government track progress towards clean technology objectives.”