The Liberal government’s first budget was tabled yesterday, and it came with a clear message:
In Budget 2016 the government is defining a new vision for Canada’s economy: to build Canada as a centre of global innovation.
Let me start by saying that overall this was an excellent budget for science advancement and innovation in Canada, and Actua looks forward to working alongside the government to help make its vision of Canada as a centre for global innovation a reality.
One of the key investments made in Budget 2016 is the increased funding to Canada’s granting councils, researchers and institutions. We applaud this investment which is a critical step towards building a more innovative culture and globally competitive economy.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) was one of four granting councils to receive increased support. This is very good news for Canada’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach sector which is eager to see increased investments going to NSERC’s PromoScience fund. PromoScience is currently the only national federal funding available to support STEM outreach to youth.
The Canada Science and Technology Museum has also received significant support for the construction of their new museum and conservation centre. Actua is thrilled to see this additional investment being made to build a world-class facility that will position Canada more strongly on the innovation world stage. Science museums and centres are also the places youth visit and become inspired to pursue their own path in STEM.
Creating new opportunities and investing in the future of young Canadians is a commitment Canada’s new Liberal government has made loud and clear. The Prime Minister has reaffirmed this notion that youth are a major priority for the government by appointing himself as the Minister for Youth and has since been seen publicly engaging with youth at events all across the country. One of these events included Actua’s very own Codemakers event at Google Canada’s Waterloo Office Opening in January.
Budget 2016 served as an opportunity to show how serious the government is about investing in youth. We are pleased to see that new consultation bodies are being developed, including the Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council as well as an Expert Panel on Youth Employment. This is an important opportunity for the government to better understand the barriers youth – especially girls, Indigenous youth, and youth facing socioeconomic challenges – are experiencing.
Last but certainly not least, Budget 2016 includes a glimpse into a new strategy around innovation called the “Innovation Agenda.”
Through 2016, the Government will redesign and redefine how it supports innovation and growth, in partnership and coordination with the private sector, provinces, territories and municipalities, universities and colleges, and the not for-profit sector.
While we don’t have any details yet, we believe this will be a fantastic opportunity for the government to increase its attention on the importance of providing young Canadians increased access to hands-on STEM experiences that inspire youth to become Canada’s next great innovators. As Budget 2016 alludes, this will require a collaborative, cooperative approach among stakeholders who have an interest in investing in Canada’s innovative future. We look forward to working together with all parties involved to help make the Innovation Agenda one that is strong and reflective of our collective interest to make Canada recognized as one of the most innovative countries in the world.