Lab Canada

New federal budget furthers commitment to research and development

Ottawa, ON – March 24, 2004 – The federal government’s new budget includes further growth in funding for research and development related programs across the country, bringing to $13 billion its cumulative increase in funding since the late 1990s.

The funding includes an increase of $90 million annually to the budgets of the three federal granting councils: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

An additional $20 million a year will be provided to universities and research hospitals to help offset the indirect costs of research.

Reflecting the sale of Petro-Canada shares, the government says it will commit $200 million to Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm’s length foundation that supports development and demonstration of environmental technologies, and a further $800 million over the next seven years to support emerging environmental technologies.

An additional $60 million is being allocated to Genome Canada to strengthen research in genomics, the study of the genetic code of people and other living things.

In addition, the government says it wants to further existing efforts to commercialize research discoveries. The budget adds:

– $50 million over five years to improve the capacity for commercialization at universities, hospitals and other research facilities.

– $25 million over five years to support proposals by federal science-based departments and agencies aimed at improving their research commercialization activities.

– $5 million per year to the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to strengthen its support for the regional innovation initiatives sponsored by the National Research Council (NRC).

A total of $270 million is being set aside for new investments in venture capital financing by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Farm Credit Corporation (FCC). This will include $100 million for direct investment in new technologies; 100 million to support the creation of specialized funds that will lever additional private equity investment in leading-edge technologies; $50 million to invest directly in innovative start-up and early-stage companies to further support the commercialization of enabling technologies; and $20 million over two years to provide venture capital financing for promising agriculture and agri-food companies.

Finally, Canada’s ability to deal with health emergencies will be boosted with $665 million over this year and the next two years. The money will be used to establish a new Canada Public Health Agency that will act as a focal point for disease control and emergency response. The funding includes:

– $165 million to assist in creating the new agency and to fund its main activities. (This is in addition to about $400 million to be transferred from Health Canada to the new agency.) Resources will be used to increase emergency response capacity, enhance surveillance by developing and implementing data collection standards, establish regional centres of excellence, expand laboratory capacity, and strengthen international coordination.

– $100 million to be invested in Canada Health Infoway to assess, develop and implement a high quality, real-time public health surveillance system to assist in the timely identification of infectious disease outbreaks such as SARS.

$400 million to provinces and territories over the next three years to support a national immunization strategy and to relieve stresses on provincial and territorial public health systems that were identified during the SARS outbreak.

“The Canadian government is sending a clear message: that Canada is and will continue to be an international player in the field of genomics and proteomics research,” says Dr Martin Godbout, president & CEO of Genome Canada. “As we approach the one-year anniversary of the sequencing of the SARS coronavirus by Canadian scientists, we are reminded that past investments in science and research have yielded tremendous new capabilities to do world class research right here in Canada. With this budget, Canada’s research capacity is strengthened even more.”