Budget 2021: Science underpins targeted investments to drive equitable recovery and long-term prosperity

Monday, April 19, 2021 - 21:28

Today, the Government of Canada tabled its long-awaited budget. This federal budget comes at a turbulent moment in the pandemic, with many regions experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections and accompanying restrictions, as well as ongoing challenges with vaccine roll-outs. 

Previously, we saw a landmark budget for science in 2018, which made historic investments in fundamental research totaling more than $1.7 billion. This was followed by additional commitments in 2019 that included expanded support for research trainees and access to post-secondary education. While no federal budget was tabled in 2020, there have been ongoing investments in Canadian science throughout the pandemic.

Budget 2021 attempts to balance the pressing challenges of the pandemic with a long-term view towards recovery and growth. We are pleased to see strategic investments across the Canadian science ecosystem, including targeted research funding in artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and bioinnovation. There is also a focus on climate action, which outlines a $17.6 billion investment towards green recovery and conservation. There are also noteworthy investments in research and development partnerships, and data capacity. Beyond research, Budget 2021 includes investments in childcare, mental health, Indigenous communities, post-secondary education, and support for gender-based and Black-led initiatives.

We note that this budget does not include significant increases to the federal granting agencies, or legislation to safeguard the Office of the Chief Science Advisor.

Below, we highlight key research-related investments in Budget 2021.

Key investments in health research and innovation

  • $500 million over four years for the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support the bio-science capital and infrastructure needs of post-secondary institutions and research hospitals
  • $250 million over three years to increase clinical research capacity through a new Canadian Institutes of Health Research Clinical Trials Fund.
  • $20 million over five years to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support a new National Institute for Women’s Health Research
  • $30 million over two years to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to fund pediatric cancer research
  • $250 million over four years for the federal research granting councils to create a new tri-council biomedical research fund.
  • $28.6 million over five years with $5.7 million per year ongoing, to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to help address antimicrobial resistance
  • $10 million over five years to the Public Health Agency of Canada for a new Diabetes Challenge Prize
  • $25 million over five years to Health Canada for additional investments for research on diabetes (including juvenile diabetes), surveillance, and prevention, and to work towards the development of a national framework for diabetes. 
  • $59.2 million over three years for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization to support the development of its vaccine candidates and expand its facility in Saskatoon.
  • $400 million over six years in support of a Pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy including $136.7 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, for mission-driven programming delivered by Genome Canada to kick-start the new strategy and complement the government’s existing genomics research and innovation programming.
  • $45 million over three years to the Stem Cell Network to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research.
  • $92 million over four years for adMare to support company creation, scale up, and training activities in the life sciences sector.
  • $50 million over five years to create a life sciences stream in the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative

Key investments in research and development

  • $7.2 billion for the Strategic Innovation Fund over seven years to support the life sciences, automotive, aerospace, and agriculture sectors, as well as the Net Zero Accelerator. 
  • $443.8 million over ten years to the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, including: 
    • $185 million over five years to support the commercialization of artificial intelligence innovations and research in Canada; 
    • $162.2 million over ten years to help retain and attract top academic talent across Canada. This programming will be delivered by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research;
    • $48 million over five years for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to renew and enhance its research, training, and knowledge mobilization programs; 
    • $40 million over five years to provide dedicated computing capacity for researchers at the national artificial intelligence institutes in Edmonton, Toronto, and Montréal;
    • $8.6 million over five years to advance the development and adoption of standards related to artificial intelligence.
  • $90 million over five years to the National Research Council to retool and modernize the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre
  • $360 million over seven years to launch a National Quantum Strategy
  • $9.9 million over two years to the Canadian Space Agency to plan for the next generation of Earth observation satellites.
  • $80.2 million over eleven years to Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to replace and expand critical but aging ground-based infrastructure to receive satellite data.
  • $75 million over three years for the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program to provide high-growth client firms with access to expert intellectual property services.
  • $500 million over five years and $100 million per year ongoing, to expand the Industrial Research Assistance Program to support up to 2,500 additional innovative small and medium-sized firms.
  • $5.7 million over two years to provide more businesses with access to the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program’s Interactive Visits, where firms can access equipment, facilities, and expertise at college-affiliated Technology Access Centres.
  • $10 million over five years and $2 million per year ongoing, to expand opportunities for Canadian SMEs to engage in research and development partnerships with Israeli SMEs as part of the Canadian International Innovation Program
  • $60 million over two years to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative.
  • $708 million over five years to Mitacs to create at least 85,000 work-integrated learning placements.
  • $46.9 million over two years to support additional research partnerships between colleges, CEGEPs, polytechnics, and businesses through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s College and Community Innovation Program.
  • $12 million over three years to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund academic research into systemic barriers facing diverse groups.

Key investments in environment and climate action

  • $5 billion over seven years to the Net Zero Accelerator to provide support for projects that will help reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions across the Canadian economy. This is a portion of the above $7.2 Billion for the Strategic Innovation Fund. 
  • $319 million over seven years to Natural Resources Canada to support research, development, and demonstrations that would improve the commercial viability of carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies.
  • $36.8 million over three years to Natural Resources Canada for federal research and development to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise.
  • $25 million over three years to support pan-Arctic scientific research through the Polar Continental Shelf Program.  
  • $25.6 million over five years and $5.8 million per year ongoing to Statistics Canada, and $1.9 million over five years and $0.3 million per year ongoing to Environment and Climate Change Canada, to create a Census of the Environment to help monitor environmental trends and better inform decision-making.
  • $36.2 million over five years to Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop and apply a climate lens that ensures climate considerations are integrated throughout federal government decision-making. This includes resources to increase economic and emissions modelling capacity.

Key investments in data capacity to help ensure governments and the public can find and use evidence

  • $172 million over five years to Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan to fill data and knowledge gaps.
  • $6.1 million over five years to enable Statistics Canada to bring together key economic, social, and environmental datasets and develop a user interface to better support decision-making and budgeting.
  • $17.6 million over five years, and $3.4 million per year ongoing, to create a Data Commissioner
  • $41.3 million over six years, and $7.7 million ongoing, for Statistics Canada to improve data infrastructure and data collection on supportive care, primary care, and pharmaceuticals.
  • $7.7 million over five years, and $1.6 million ongoing, to enable Statistics Canada to improve quality of life measures and address key data gaps.
  • $8.4 million over five years to the Standards Council of Canada to continue its work to advance industry-wide data governance standards.
  • $6.7 million over five years to Justice Canada and Statistics Canada to improve the collection and use of disaggregated data
  • $73.5 million over three years to continue work towards the development and implementation of a First Nations Data Governance Strategy.
  • $8 million over three years to support Inuit and Métis baseline data capacity, and the development of distinctions-based Inuit and Métis Nation data strategies.
  • $11 million over five years for the Department for Women and Gender Equality for gender-based violence research and knowledge mobilization, with funding supporting community research models, working with Statistics Canada to develop a national femicide database, and enhancing the sample size of national gender-based violence surveys.
  • $12.8 million over five years to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to support further improvements to the online Access to Information and Personal Information Request Service, to accelerate the proactive release of information to Canadians, and to support completion of the Access to Information Act review.

 

Rachael Maxwell

Executive Director

Rachael Maxwell joins Evidence for Democracy with a deep knowledge of the science landscape in Canada and a strong track record of success working at national not-for-profit research organizations. From 2018-21 she held progressively responsible roles at Genome Canada, working across the organization on key priorities in communications, public affairs and strategic planning.