Backgrounder: Supporting Researchers to Build a More Innovative Canadian Economy


We have always understood that better is possible, and time after time, we have used curiosity, courage and collaboration to create positive change for ourselves—and the world. This spirit of innovation has helped to create the industries and jobs that strengthened and grew Canada's middle class. Today, that same drive to innovate creates new jobs and export opportunities across industries.

By making smart investments today, the Government can provide Canadians with the skills they need to qualify for jobs that will lead the future economy. Research expands our basic understanding of the world, generates new ideas, and helps to build a workforce that is better able to respond to challenges with creativity and confidence. In Budget 2018, the Government is taking the next steps in supporting leading-edge science by making historic investments in the next generation of Canadian researchers. This means the young, diverse scientists of the future. The Government will strengthen scientific research in Canada in a way that reflects Canada's diversity—including support for the next generation of women, visible minority and Indigenous researchers.

Through Budget 2018, the Government is making an historic investment of nearly $4 billion over five years to support the next generation of Canadian researchers, including nearly $1.2 billion over five years for Canada's granting councils, ongoing funding for Canada Research Chairs, and investments in the laboratories, equipment and infrastructure that researchers rely on every day.

With Budget 2018 the Government proposes to:

  • Invest in the next generation of Canadian research and researchers—including increasing the number of women, underrepresented groups and early-career researchers—by providing $1.2 billion over five years to the granting councils for fundamental research, which will provide increased support and training opportunities for the work of some 21,000 researchers, students and high-quality personnel every year. This funding includes $275 million for research that is international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and higher-risk, to accelerate a more modern approach to research.
  • Ensure researchers have the necessary space and support to undertake high-quality multidisciplinary research by allocating $231.3 million over five years for the Research Support Fund, which provides universities with resources to cover the indirect costs of research, such as overhead costs related to laboratory maintenance.
  • Attract and retain leading, young and early-career researchers at post-secondary institutions across the country by proposing $210 million in new funding over five years, with $50 million ongoing, for the Canada Research Chairs program. This will help promising researchers establish their careers and increase the diversity of Canada's talented scientists.
  • Ensure researchers have access to the world-class research laboratories and equipment they need at Canadian universities, polytechnics, colleges and research hospitals, by providing the Canada Foundation for Innovation with $763 million over five years, including $160 million to provide additional support through the Foundation's Major Science Initiatives Fund. Through Budget 2018, the Government will also take an historic step to provide ongoing funding for this core part of the research system, reaching $462 million per year by 2023–24.
  • Enhance Canada's advanced computing and big data capabilities for researchers across the country by proposing $572.5 million over five years, with $52 million on an ongoing basis, to implement a Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy for this essential tool for progress in science, underpinning world-class research across all disciplines.
  • Invest in colleges and polytechnics to ensure they continue to be innovation intermediaries that actively collaborate with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their communities to solve business challenges. To this end, the Government will provide an additional $140 million over five years to enhance the College and Community Innovation Program.

With Budget 2018, the Government also proposes to renew its commitment to supporting scientific research by:

  • Transforming the National Research Council to reinforce its research strengths and its role as a trusted partner with large-scale national teams of Canada's top scientists and SMEs committed to cutting-edge research and commercialization, supported by a further $540 million over five years, with $108 million ongoing. This will help reduce fees for participating businesses and advance high-potential research.
  • Bringing together federal scientists and researchers across the country by investing to build collaborative federal science and technology facilities that will advance our understanding in areas such as ocean science, human health and food safety, and climate change.

Through Budget 2018, the Government is also investing $2.6 billion to make it easier for Canadians to do business and for entrepreneurs to more easily access the resources they need to innovate, scale up, create jobs, and reach new customers around the world. With Budget 2018, the Government will:

  • Increase support for women-owned businesses by making available $1.65 billion over three years in new financing for women entrepreneurs through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. In addition, the Government will provide $115 million over five years as part of a Women's Entrepreneurship Strategy that will comprehensively address barriers facing women entrepreneurs to starting and growing businesses, particularly in high-growth areas of the economy. This will include establishing a target that 15 per cent of SMEs supplying the Government of Canada are firms owned by women, in order to reflect their share of the SME population.
  • Pursue historic reform of business innovation programs to build on the one-stop shop—the recently launched Innovation Canada—further streamlining business support programs along four new flagship "platforms" that will bring together multiple programs:
    • The Industrial Research Assistance Program, which will support small business research and development for projects up to a new threshold of $10 million. Through Budget 2018, the Government will provide a further $700 million over five years to this program and $150 million ongoing.
    • The Strategic Innovation Fund, which will allow for more focused support for business research and development projects over $10 million.
    • The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, which will help Canadian businesses access new opportunities and new customers around the world with simple modern tools and innovative services that are geared to help them grow.
    • Renewed regional development agencies, which will encourage economic growth in communities across Canada. Through Budget 2018, the Government is providing an additional $511 million over five years on a cash basis to support the Innovation and Skills Plan across all regions of Canada through its regional development agencies. Of this amount, $105 million will support nationally coordinated and regionally tailored support for women entrepreneurs.
  • Announce a new, modern approach to intellectual property to help Canadian companies lead in the knowledge-based economy by providing a new framework, educational resources and strategic tools, which will allow Canadian innovators to better compete and access global markets.
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