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Budget 2024: Encouraging Investments into Research Talent, Infrastructure and Innovation

April, 16, 2024 – Ottawa, ON, Today, the Government of Canada tabled its 2024 budget, with focused investments into housing, affordability and young people. In light of continued fiscal challenges, this budget also contained encouraging investments in the next generation of researchers, Canada’s talent pipeline and economic productivity.

So, what does this budget table for science and research-related investments?

To recap: since making significant investments in the overall research ecosystem in response to the Fundamental Science Review in the 2018 budget, the federal government has taken the approach of wide-ranging targeted investments from year to year, including:

  • The 2019 commitments to expand support for research trainees;
  • Pandemic-focused funding throughout 2020;
  • Investments in artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and bioinnovation in 2021,
  • Measures to accelerate innovation and build intellectual property in the 2022 budget;
  • Targeted investments in the 2023 budget for natural resource development, the Canadian Space Agency, and an expansion of the College and Community Innovation Program.

In Budget 2024, science and research funding centers around a few key items: talent, research infrastructure, innovation, and the broader Canadian research support system.

Notably, this includes:

  • Significant investment into, and the harmonization of, graduate student scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships.
  • Significant investments to launch a new AI Compute Access Fund and create a new safety institute to ensure the safe development and deployment of AI.
  • Increase in the core research grant funding and support for Canadian researchers funded through Canada’s Tri-Agencies: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
  • The creation of a new capstone research funding organization to provide better coordination across the federal research ecosystem, and a new advisory Council on Science and Innovation to guide research priorities (including the establishment of a national science and innovation strategy).
  • Investment for modernization and enhancement of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program.

While promising, this budget leaves a lot to the imagination. For example, with the creation of a new capstone research funding organization, how will things change in Canada’s broader research support ecosystem? What does harmonization of graduate student scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships look like in practice? We don’t have the answers yet, but we look forward to monitoring developments in the coming months.

Below, we highlight key science and research-related investments in Budget 2024.

Investments in Talent

  • $1.8 billion over five years, with $748.3 million per year ongoing, for the for the Tri-Agencies, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC to increase core research grant funding and support for Canadian researchers.
  • $825 million over five years, with $199.8 million per year ongoing, to: (i) increase the annual value of all master’s and doctoral student scholarships to $27,000 and $40,000, respectively, and all post-doctoral fellowships to $70,000; and (ii) increase the number of research scholarships and fellowships by approximately 1,720 more each year.
    • Note: the scholarships and fellowships programs will be streamlined into one talent program.
      $30 million over three years to support Indigenous participation in research, with $10 million each for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit partners.
  • The creation of a new pilot initiative, by the Government of Canada, in collaboration with Talent for Innovation Canada, to build a research and development workforce in Canada, with a focus on attracting, training and developing talent across bio-manufacturing, clean technology, electric vehicle manufacturing, and microelectronics.

Investments in Research Support System

  • The creation of a new capstone research funding organization, by the Government of Canada, to provide better coordination across the federally funded research ecosystem.
    • Note: Budget 2024 states that the granting councils (i.e., NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC) will continue to exist. This new funding organization will “advance internationally collaborative, multi-disciplinary, and mission-driven research”, and is being created per observations outlined in the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System (i.e., that “more coordination is needed to maximize the impact of federal research support”).
  • The creation of a new advisory Council on Science and Innovation, by the Government of Canada, to guide research priorities moving forward and establish a national science and innovation strategy.
    • Note: this Council will consist of individuals from the academic, industry and non-profit sectors, whose guidance will guide priority setting and increase the impact of federal investments.
  • $26.9 million over five years, with $26.6 million in remaining amortization and $6.6 million ongoing, for the granting councils to establish an improved and harmonized grant management system.

Investments in Research Infrastructure

  • $6.7 billion over 20 years for Public Services and Procurement Canada to manage its portfolio of assets, including support for Laboratories Canada facility upgrades.
  • $3.1 billion over 11 years, starting in 2025-26, with $1.5 billion in remaining amortization, for the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to support the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ ongoing nuclear science research, environmental protection, and site remediation work.
  • $600 million over four years, starting in 2025-26, with $150 million per year ongoing, for future enhancements to the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program.
  • $399.8 million over five years, starting in 2025-26, for TRIUMF, a sub-atomic physics research laboratory, to upgrade its infrastructure.
  • $176 million over five years, starting in 2025-26, for CANARIE, a national non-profit which manages Canada’s ultra high-speed network to connect researchers, educators, and innovators, including through eduroam.
  • $83.5 million over three years, starting in 2026-27, for Canadian Light Source to provide support to researchers examining the microscopic nature of matter using a synchrotron light source.
  • $46.9 million over five years, with $8.5 million in remaining amortization and $11.1 million ongoing, for Natural Resources Canada to renew the Polar Continental Shelf Program to continue supporting northern research logistics.
  • $45.5 million over five years, for the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute, a network of universities and institutes that coordinate astroparticle physics expertise to design, construct, and operate the experiments conducted in Canada’s underground and underwater research infrastructure.
  • $39.2 million over two years for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to advance the next phase of CanCode.
  • $30 million over three years to support the completion of the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for Pandemic Research at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, and enable the study of high-risk pathogens to support vaccine and therapeutic development.
    • Note: $3 million of this amount will be sourced from the Prairies Economic Development Canada’s existing resources.
  • $7.4 million over five years for Natural Resources Canada to provide technical advice on engineering and scientific matters related to the major economic investment tax credits and to support the administration of certain investment tax credits with the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • $5.2 million over two years for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to support the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning.
  • $3.5 million for Polar Knowledge Canada to support its activities, including the operation of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.

Investments in Innovation

  • $2 billion over five years to launch a new AI Compute Access Fund and Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy, to help Canadian researchers, start-ups, and businesses access computational power, and help catalyze the development of Canadian-owned and located AI infrastructure.
  • $8.6 million to the Canadian Space Agency for the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program to support Canada’s space industry and help accelerate the development of new technologies, for example, enhancing remote health care services and improving access to healthy food in remote communities.
  • $50 million over five years to create an AI Safety Institute of Canada to ensure the safe development and deployment of AI, and help Canada better understand and protect against the risks of advanced and generative AI systems. This will involve engagement with stakeholders and international partners with competitive AI policies to inform the final design and stand-up of the AI Safety Institute.
  • $3.5 million over two years to advance Canada’s leadership role with the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, securing Canada’s leadership on the global stage when it comes to advancing the responsible development, governance, and use of AI technologies internationally.
  • The establishment of a new National Space Council to enable collaboration required to address cross-cutting issues that span commercial, civil, and defence domains.

Investments in Data Infrastructure

A number of data infrastructure-related commitments have been outlined in the 2024 federal budget, including the following:

  • $20 million over four years, for Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, to modernize and enhance the collection and dissemination of housing data, including municipal-level data on housing starts and completions.
  • ­$18 million over six years, and $3 million ongoing, to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to expand the scope of their work and create a stand-alone Combatting Hate: Community Information Resource Hub, which includes the collection of hate-crime related data.
  • $12.9 million over six years, with $0.9 million ongoing, to support a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Canadian Heritage and Statistics Canada to improve the collection and availability of hate crime data in Canada.
  • The federal government is conducting a review of its entire federal lands portfolio to identify more land for housing. This will include creating a new Public Land Bank (encompassing an inventory of available lands) before fall 2024 to accelerate construction on public lands; and releasing a new geo-spatial mapping tool to help homebuilders more easily access and navigate public land.

Proposed Legislation

  • The Government of Canada is proposing to introduce legislation to modernize the federal research support system.
  • The Government of Canada is proposing to introduce legislative amendments to the Canada Innovation Corporation Act to enable the establishment of the Canada Innovation Corporation by 2026-27.

Updates on Existing Initiatives

  • In December 2023, the Strategic Science Fund announced the results of its first competition, providing support to 24 third-party science and research organizations.
  • Canada has concluded negotiations to be an associate member of Horizon Europe, enabling Canadians to access a broader range of research opportunities.
  • The Government of Canada’s consultations on creating a patent box regime, to encourage the development and retention of intellectual property in Canada, closed on 15 April 2024, for which submissions are under review.

Opportunities for Science and Expert Advice

  • The Government of Canada will host a second phase of consultations, involving businesses and industry, to inform how the above mentioned investment in the SR&ED program could be targeted to boost research and innovation, as well as input on specific policy parameters. This includes exploring how Canadian public companies could be made eligible for the enhanced credit.
  • The National Research Council will launch consultations with provinces, territories, industry, and fire safety experts to (i) address regulatory barriers (including point block access and single egress designs, and streamline the inspection process); (ii) identify ways to reduce duplication between factory inspections of modular home components and on-site building inspections; and (iii) support efforts to address regulatory barriers to help scale up factory-built housing across the country.
  • The Government of Canada intends to launch consultations on the development of a National Caregiving Strategy.
  • The Government of Canada will engage with industry partners and research institutes to implement AI investment initiatives, with the intent of fostering cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation for technological advancement.
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