The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Vancouver, British Columbia

March 23, 2017


Good afternoon, everyone.

And thank you, Robin [Silvester, President of Vancouver Fraser Port Authority], for that kind introduction.

It’s great to be back in Vancouver again.

I was just here last week for the B.C. Tech Summit, and I saw for myself the impressive calibre of people who are working in all parts of this province’s diverse economy to turn their ideas into innovations.

In fact, on my way to the summit, I bumped into a group of high-school students.

They were also attending the summit to talk about their innovations.

And I took the opportunity to slip them my job application—because these are the innovators who will create the jobs of tomorrow and employ people like you and me.

I’m a chartered accountant, by the way, so I do have some employable skills.

So I’m delighted to be back this week to talk about Budget 2017 and how it impacts British Columbians.

Specifically, I want to share with you our government’s plan to promote innovation and skills for a better Canada.

Budget 2017 is the next step in the Government’s long-term plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class and those working to join it.

It puts people first.

And it delivers the help that British Columbians need now—not a decade from now.

When we formed government, we promised Canadians that we would put middle-class families first.

And that’s what we did.

First, we asked the wealthiest 1 percent to pay a little more so that we could cut taxes for the middle class.

Second, we introduced a new Canada Child Benefit that’s simpler, more generous and better targeted to those who need it most.

It is also entirely tax-free.

And it will put an average of $2,300 more this year in the pockets of 9 out of 10 families with children.

Third, we helped people retire with more dignity by increasing the maximum benefit under the Canada Pension Plan by about 50 percent.

Fourth, we reached new health agreements with most provinces and territories.

That includes a major transfer of $6.7 billion this year for British Columbia—an increase of $195 million from the previous year.

And we will provide more—and better—home care and mental health support for Canadian families.

Fifth, we are making smart infrastructure investments in our communities.

These ambitious investments include public-transit projects that will shorten commutes, decrease air pollution and allow Canadians to spend more time with their families.

The steps that we have taken to date are having a real and positive impact on our economy—and on Canadians.

Optimism is on the rise, and with good reason.

Forecasters are expecting Canada’s economy to grow even faster.

In the last six months, we have seen the highest job growth in this country since 2002.

But we are not done.

We understand that despite these positive signs, people are still anxious about the future.

As Canadians, we want to be assured that our hard work will result in a better future for our kids and grandkids.

This budget is about investing in skills and training.

That’s how all Canadians will have access to the opportunities we need to succeed now and in the future.

Addressing these real concerns starts with keeping this basic promise that guides Canada’s growth: that hard work will be rewarded and that every Canadian can have a real and fair chance at success.

Allow me to talk about how our government is helping Canadians embrace change and thrive—today and tomorrow.

Budget 2017 focuses on helping workers acquire the skills and training they need for the jobs of the new, innovation economy.

It helps them seize new opportunities at every stage of their work life.

It ensures that every Canadian has a real and fair chance at success.

So we are boosting our support for health care, child care and our veterans.

And we will continue to renew our nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. 

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan

Ladies and gentlemen:

I’m proud to share with you the key elements of Budget 2017 that are part of my portfolio as Canada’s innovation minister.

First, Budget 2017 introduces measures that will deliver simpler, more efficient and coordinated support for this country’s innovators and job creators.

These streamlined services will benefit Canadian entrepreneurs, global companies looking to set up shop in Canada and global investors considering partnerships with innovative Canadian firms.

Our government is also introducing the Innovation and Skills Plan.

This plan will create good, well-paying jobs for the middle class and ensure that the benefits of a more innovative society are shared equally among all Canadians.

Our initial efforts will focus on several industries that touch the lives of all Canadians: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, biosciences, clean tech, digital technology and clean resources.

One way our government can create and shape the new markets that are created by these sectors is to support concentrations of expertise in certain sectors.

Our government’s investment in these hotbeds of innovation will create business-led partnerships. 

Impact of Innovation and Skills Plan on B.C.

I don’t have to explain to you the incredible potential for growth and job creation that come from these sectors.

Just last week, a report by KPMG singled out B.C. for having the number-one technology ecosystem in Canada.

I’ve seen for myself some of the incredibly diverse digital industries that call B.C. home: UrtheCast, which is making a name for itself in Earth observation technologies; D-Wave, which is a world leader in quantum computing; and Electronic Arts, the undisputed leader in the global video-game industry.

This province is also home to nearly one third of Canada’s clean-tech companies—more than 270, to be precise.

Together, these companies employ nearly 14,000 people.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting three of them: Canfor, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation and General Fusion.

These companies are developing alternative energy sources.

Or they are adapting new technologies to make the forestry and auto industries more energy efficient.

Clean-tech jobs pay an average of $84,000 a year.

So we’re talking about good quality, green-collar jobs.

Which is why I’m delighted to announce that Budget 2017 proposes nearly $1.4 billion in new financing for clean tech.

This funding will help the most promising clean-tech companies grow.

And it will create better jobs and opportunities for Canadians.

As for agri-food, the Sidney Centre for Plant Health on Vancouver Island will be replaced with a new, world-class research facility.

Through an investment of $80 million over five years, this facility will support the safety of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector.

It will also facilitate trade and economic growth that benefits all Canadians.

Another area where Canada has world-class expertise is artificial intelligence and deep-learning research.

Budget 2017 will invest $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

This investment will attract and retain top researchers.

It will boost the number of post-graduate fellows studying artificial intelligence and deep learning in Canada.

Budget 2017 will also support the growth of innovative companies across all sectors of the economy.

Starting this year, our government will make available up to $400 million over three years for the new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative.

This initiative will increase the availability of late-stage venture capital in Canada.

With funds leveraged from the private sector, and depending on the proposals received, this investment could inject a total of $1.5 billion into Canada’s innovation capital market.

All of these measures will help the most dynamic Canadian companies and entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

And as companies grow, they will create more well-paying jobs for middle-class Canadians.

Finally, Budget 2017 proposes to make permanent the $37.5 million a year in temporary funding provided to Destination Canada.

Stable funding for our national tourism marketing agency, which is based here in Vancouver, means Canada can attract more international visitors.

As many of you in beautiful British Columbia know, tourism increases economic activity.

And according to the New York Times, Canada is the world’s best place to visit in 2017, our country’s 150th birthday. 

Equipping Canadians with the skills they need for an innovation-driven economy

As I said earlier, we are living in a period of tremendous change.

Innovation is changing the world in which we live.

Economies are shifting.

Automation is on the rise.

And the nature of work—when, where and how we earn a living—is being redefined.

Canada’s workforce is one of the most well-educated and highly skilled in the world.

But keeping pace means honing the skills we need for the jobs of tomorrow.

Budget 2017 will ensure that Canadians thrive in an innovation-driven economy—whether they are recent graduates or have been working for more than 15 years.

That is why Budget 2017 proposes to invest to:

  • empower young Canadians to get the education, skills and work experience they need to start their careers;

  • help women, Indigenous peoples and under-represented groups participate fully in education and employment opportunities; and

  • help adult learners retrain or upgrade their skills to adapt to a changing labour market.

And we need to make sure that those Canadians working hard to re-enter the workforce have access to the training programs and financial support they need to succeed.

This is especially true as our population continues to age.

Our government is creating opportunities for lifelong learning to ensure that the next job is always a better job for Canadians.

That is why Budget 2017 proposes new funding for more Canadians to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and digital literacy.

That’s particularly the case for women, girls and under-represented groups.

Our government will also provide funds to help Mitacs.

That’s a not-for-profit organization based in this city.

Mitacs builds partnerships among industry, colleges and universities.

Through Mitacs, our government will create 10,000 work-integrated learning placements for Canadian post-secondary students and graduates.

That’s up from the current level of 3,750 placements.

Budget 2017 also provides support for mid-career workers who want to pursue post-secondary education but may not have the means to do so without financial assistance.

Our government will introduce a three-year pilot project to test new ways to make it easier for adult learners to qualify for Canada Student Loans and Grants. 

Modern, resilient neighbourhoods and communities

Through Budget 2017, our government is making neighbourhoods healthier places to live.

We are building on last year’s infrastructure investments that are already making a difference in communities across Canada.

Budget 2016 supported the repair of our aging pipes and roads, the construction and renewal of affordable housing, the upgrade of public transit and the improvement of Indigenous communities.

The Fall Economic Statement built on those efforts by targeting public transit, green and social infrastructure, and projects in northern and rural communities.

Total federal investments in infrastructure now top $180 billion over 12 years.

In Budget 2017, the Government is directing some of those funds to improve access to early learning and child care, renew more cultural and recreational centres, and build more accessible public spaces for children and families.

Our government will invest $7 billion over 10 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across the country.

And our investments will target those families most in need.

Our government also recognizes the challenges that many Vancouverites face in finding affordable housing in the country’s most expensive market.

Through the National Housing Strategy, Canadians will have better access to housing that meets their needs.

I’m proud to say that our government is committing more than $11.2 billion over 11 years to build, renew and repair Canada’s stock of affordable housing.

And to support the next phase of ambitious public transit projects, the Government will invest $20.1 billion over 11 years through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories.

Potential projects that could qualify for investment include the Vancouver Broadway subway, the extension of the Millennium Line SkyTrain along the Broadway corridor and targeted funding for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

This trade and transportation corridor will help Canadians get their products to markets around the world.

These investments will make Canada an even better place to call home.

Tax fairness for the middle class

In Canada, everyone must pay their fair share.

Our government will continue to ensure that the tax system is fair for hard-working middle-class Canadians.

That starts with a simpler and more efficient tax system.

Over the past year, the Government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Budget 2017 will build on this progress by:

  • closing tax loopholes that result in unfair tax advantages for some at the expense of others;

  • investing additional resources to crack down on tax evasion;

  • eliminating costly, ineffective and inefficient tax measures;

  • providing greater consistency in the operation of tax rules; and

  • making existing tax relief for individuals and families more effective and accessible. 

For example, Canadians who are caring for loved ones face a caregiver credit system that is complex and difficult for families to navigate.

Budget 2017 proposes to simplify the existing system.

It will replace three existing tax credits with a single new credit.

The Canada Caregiver Credit will provide better support to those who need it the most.

It will apply to caregivers regardless of whether they live with their family member.

We also want to make life easier for individuals with impairments who apply for the Disability Tax Credit.

Many Canadians have nurse practitioners as their first and most frequent point of contact with the health care system.

For that reason, we propose to add them to the list of medical professionals who can certify applications for the Disability Tax Credit.

Finally, Budget 2017 will support single Canadians and same-sex couples who want to start a family but need medical intervention to have kids.

We propose to allow these Canadians to claim expenses for reproductive technologies under the Medical Expense Tax Credit. 


Ladies and gentlemen:

Over the past 18 months, Canadians have seen positive signs that our government’s plan is working.

Our investments in Canadians have contributed to a more favourable economic outlook for our country.

In fact, the International Monetary Fund says that Canada will have the second-fastest-growing economy in the G7 this year and next.

But we can and will do more to help the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Budget 2017 continues the Government’s plan to invest in the middle class and the long-term growth of the Canadian economy.

We are making smart and responsible investments that will lead to better jobs and better opportunities for all Canadians.

Thank you.

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