The Canadian Federal government budget for 2016 was recently released. In it, the Liberals plan to dedicate resources to innovative tech sectors, with a particular focus on cleantech. Significant amounts of money will also be contributed to research and new facilities at universities across the country.
“To encourage economic growth, the Government will make strategic investments in clean technology, provide more support for companies seeking to export those technologies, and lead by example in their use.” -Speech from the Throne, December 4, 2015
Supporting Innovation Networks and Clusters
Up to $800 million dollars have been set aside over the next four years to strengthen and support innovation networks. The fund will aim to fuel growth by connecting innovators in the private and public sectors, including government, industry, and universities, to encourage further innovation. Initiatives that function within the Industrial Research Assistance Program will be eligible for this funding as well. More details regarding the distribution of these resources will be released as part of the Innovation Agenda that the government plans to implement in the coming months.
To encourage further innovation and advancement, the federal government is also planning to support genomics research, with $237.2 million to go to Genome Canada over the next four years, and is committed to continuing activities on the International Space Station. $379 million over the next eight years will go to the Canadian Space Agency.
$2 Billion for Post-Secondary Institutions
Over the next three years, the government will contribute $2 billion to the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund that will be dedicated to supporting the costs of infrastructure projects. By investing in the expansion of research and training labs, covering up to 50% of costs at Canadian universities and related institutions, the government is encouraging the development of highly advanced facilities for students, faculty, and researchers.
$95 million will be provided to research granting councils on an ongoing yearly basis, aimed at revitalizing and expanding Canadian research initiatives.
Committing to a clean growth economy, the Liberals have pledged an additional $2 billion over the next two years to establish a Low Carbon Economy Fund. $130 million over the next five years will be dedicated to supporting clean technology research and development. Another $128.8 million will be spent on delivering energy efficient policies and programs through Natural Resources Canada. $129.5 million will also be provided over the next five years to seven federal departments and agencies, helping them build a scientific basis to influence future policy and decision-making with regard to the impacts of climate change.
$339.4 million dollars is set to be divided between expanding the country’s national parks and supporting science and research activities for oceans and waterways.
The Impact of Budget 2016
While many aspects of the budget and how the money will be spent remain unclear, it is evident that this federal government is committing to a long-term plan. Support for accelerators and incubators across the country was reaffirmed as well, with plans to create a framework to help connect potential partners more easily.
An important change that was being discussed, but is missing from the budget, was the proposed taxation of stock options which was very unpopular amongst Canadian tech startups that use stocks as a way to attract talented employees. Additional proposed tax credits and investment incentives are poised to also affect Canadian entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The budget will be further defined through the Innovation Agenda which is set to be released and implemented towards the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017.