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Investing in innovation from coast to coast: Highlights from provincial + territorial budgets

By Annalise Huynh and
Matthew Seddon

April 28, 2017

In a year when the federal government is investing heavily in innovation, let’s not forget that provincial governments also have an important role to play in spurring Canada’s innovation and supporting entrepreneurship.

Yesterday, the governments of Ontario and Nova Scotia unveiled their budgets. With that, nearly all of Canada’s provinces and territories* have released their 2017/18 budgets.

Here are the highlights from across Canada:

Table of Contents

British Columbia

  • Tech Strategy: $87 million will be given to key ministries over three years to implement and enhance BC’s tech strategy.
  • Support for Venture Capital: The Equity Tax credit was increased by $3.5 million, which could leverage up to $11.7 million in additional venture capital investment.
  • Talent Development: To support BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, the BC Jobs Plan, and the #BCTECH Strategy, $2.6 billion will be invested in post-secondary institutions to meet future workforce needs.
  • R&D Tax Credits: The scientific research and experimental development tax credit will be extended for five years.

Alberta

  • Spurring Tech Innovation: Funding for the Alberta Enterprise Corporation will continue, to help grow tech companies through investments in venture capital funds and to build a robust innovation ecosystem, including for clean technology.
  • Advancing Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan: About $1 billion will be invested over three years to support innovation and tech, increase adoption of renewables, and help communities adjust. This is part of a broader push to diversify Alberta’s energy sector and drive innovation in energy production.
  • Investment Tax Credits: $71 million in tax credits has been committed to encourage investment in eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and encourage businesses to make capital investments.

Saskatchewan

  • Patent Box: Companies will benefit from a reduced corporate tax rate on income earned from the commercialization of intellectual property (IP) that meets certain scientific and economic criteria, for a period of 10 to 15 years. This initiative aims to incentivize commercial innovation and attract innovative firms to the province.
  • R&D Tax Credit: A refundable 10 percent tax credit is now available to Canadian-controlled firms for their first $1 million in annual qualifying R&D expenditures, on top of an existing non-refundable tax credit.

Manitoba

  • Tax Credits: The Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit and Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit were extended for three years while the R&D Tax Credit is reduced from 20 percent to 15 percent to more closely align support with other provinces.
  • Climate and Green Plan: The Manitoba government is developing a plan to promote sustainable development and reduce carbon emissions, including through technology and innovation.

Ontario

  • Business Growth Initiative: The Ontario government is expanding the BGI to $650 million over five years. The following are some of the BGI’s new investments:
    • Artificial Intelligence: $50 million for the Vector Institute to develop AI technologies and startups, foster an AI talent pipeline and encourage investment in AI.
    • 5G Technology: $67 million and $63 million respectively will be invested over two years in two industry-led projects aimed at advancing development and adoption of telecommunications technologies: Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation (ENCQOR) and the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN).
    • Quantum Computing: Ontario will work with Waterloo’s Quantum Valley to invest $20 million over five years to establish the Ideas Lab. The Lab will support academics and research in quantum science.
    • Advanced Computing: Over five years, $75 million will be spent on implementing the Advanced Research Computing and Big Data Strategy, which will include support for research, hardware investments, and coordination.
    • Autonomous Vehicles: Over five years, $80 million will go to the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Innovation Network, through a partnership with the Ontario Centres of Excellence, to support R&D, create a new Demonstration Zone in Stratford, and attract and develop talent.
  • Financial Technology: The Ontario government will collaborate with fintech firms and the financial sector to promote the sector’s growth, protect consumers, and ensure Ontario remains a leader in financial services.
  • Cybersecurity: Ontario Centres of Excellence will implement a $4 million pilot to connect SMEs with Ontario’s financial institutions increase adoption of cybersecurity technologies. This is in order to grow Ontario’s cybersecurity sector, assist financial institutions with improving their cybersecurity and create jobs.
  • Preparing youth for the jobs of tomorrow: Nearly $190 million will be invested over three years in the Career Kick‐Start Strategy to improve access to work-integrated learning, internships, online learning through Lynda.com and other skills training opportunities. The province will also be revamping its online labour market information tools.
  • Building a Resilient Workforce: Investments are being made in adult skills training and upgrading, and efforts will be made to modernize key employment and training programs. A multi-sector Planning and Partnership Table will guide implementation of Ontario’s Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy and advise on the impact of technological disruption on work.
  • Digital Literacy and Inclusion: To help all Ontarians participate in an economy that is increasingly shaped by technology, Ontario will improve access to technology in public spaces such as libraries, support the launch of Code for Canada and make digital government services easier to use.
  • Digital Health Technology: $15 million will be invested in an action plan on Digital Health to improve access to health services and information in order to improve patient outcomes and stimulate innovation. In addition, the $20 million Health Technologies Fund will provide grants for 15 projects to improve patient care by investing in health technologies. A $1 million grant will develop a proof of concept digital registration system for immunization records.
  • Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy Some of Ontario’s projected Carbon Allowances Proceeds will be invested in promoting clean technology R&D and adoption.
  • Sharing Economy: The province will soon release its Sharing Economy Strategy, which aims to support innovation and growth in the sharing economy while protecting consumers and workers. The province is also working with Ryerson University to explore the role of social enterprises in the sharing economy.
  • Going Global: Nearly $50 million will be spent over three years to help Ontario businesses connect to key international markets.

Quebec

  • Supporting Entrepreneurship:Over $440 million has been committed to promote entrepreneurship and ensure financing for growing businesses, including: $70 million for a new action plan on entrepreneurship; $10 million for an entrepreneurship program in K-12 and vocational schools; an additional $26 million to capitalize funds to support startups and growth of SMEs; $50 million to make it easier for workers to form co-operatives to buy all or part of a company, keeping ownership and jobs in the province; $3.3 million in additional support for social economy hubs; and further investments to create a favorable business environment and promote an “executive-driven economy”.
  • Artificial Intelligence Supercluster: Echoing the federal government’s recent commitments to superclusters and a Pan-Canadian Artifical Intelligence Strategy, the Quebec government is investing $100 million in the creation of an AI supercluster.
  • Research + Innovation: The province will increase funding for the Quebec Research Funds by $180 million over five years to encourage research and innovation in higher education establishments, develop top talent, and foster collaboration and knowledge transfer.
  • Investments in Science: $423 million will be spent on supporting research organizations such as Génome Quebec, fostering a new generation of scientists, advancing and commercializing scientific innovation, and integrating life sciences innovation in health and social services.
  • Sectoral Innovation: $125 million will be invested to promote innovation in the province’s manufacturing sector. $46 million will be invested in innovation in the forestry sector, $22 million in maritime research, and $6 million in mining research. Quebec’s $1.2 billion investment in regional economic development also includes a focus on innovation, for example, in the agri-food sector.
  • Support for Retraining: Recognizing the speed with which technology is changing the nature of work, the province is investing $72 million for continuing education, and part-time or refresher training.
  • Incentives for Business Investment: Businesses will benefit from additional tax breaks to encourage them to transition to digital tech and engage in large investment projects.

New Brunswick

  • Cybersecurity: The province is continuing efforts, in collaboration with academia, the private sector, and other governments, to build a cybersecurity hub with the potential to create high-value jobs.
  • A Hub for Smart Grid Development: The province is aiming to attract startups and large firms looking for a test-bed for smart grid development.
  • Public Universities: An additional $45 million will be invested in New Brunswick’s public universities over four years, including to promote R&D.

Nova Scotia

  • Supporting Innovation: Innovation initiatives will be supported with an investment of $4 million. This includes more support for business startups through incubators and accelerators, as well as a new rebate program.
  • Digital Skills: To prepare youth to participate in an increasingly digital economy, the province is devoting $1 million to double its investment in coding and computer skills initiatives for K-12 students.
  • Connecting New Graduates to the Workforce: To support talent emerging from local universities, Nova Scotia committed an additional $1.7 million to the Graduate to Opportunity program to help recent graduates land their first jobs, and $1.7 million to fund a new Innovate to Opportunity program for employers to hire recent masters and PhD graduates for research and innovation-focused jobs.
  • Engaging the Aging: The province will advance support for a more diverse workforce and ensure the inclusion of an aging population by investing $50,000 for a community Internet digital literacy training project for older adults, $395,000 to establish a social innovation lab focused on aging, and $30,000 to promote entrepreneurship for older adults.
  • Advancing Research: The province will commit $175,000 to establish Research Nova Scotia and enable it to tap into the recently created $25 million Research Nova Scotia Trust.
  • Sectoral Development: $1.3 million has been committed to increase opportunities for export and trade, including a new export accelerator program. The province is also investing $10.7 million to develop its Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE); and $250,000 to encourage innovation in its forestry industry, bringing the total industry forestry innovation budget to $1.2 million.

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • Support for Innovation in Traditional Industries: Over $5 million will be used to leverage private and federal investment in the fishery and aquaculture industries, including for technology adoption and innovation and $1 million will be invested in agricultural R&D.

Prince Edward Island

  • Angel Investing: PEI will make a matching investment of up to $2 million toward a new Angel / Seed Investment Fund to invest in startups that have significant growth opportunities in export markets.

Yukon

  • Innovation and Growth: The Yukon government is looking to improve innovation and economic growth through a $100,000 investment in open data, $1.6 million for eHealth programs and services and support for Yukon College’s transformation to being a university.
  • Green Energy: Small, First Nations and community-owned renewable energy projects will be supported by a $1.5-million fund.

Note: This article was updated on May 2, 2017, following the release of the Yukon budget.

Northwest Territories

  • Connecting the North: $14 million is being invested in the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link project to provide high speed internet to the far North.

Nunavut

  • Promoting Entrepreneurship: The Nunavut government has a broad goal to promote entrepreneurship by simplifying rules for small businesses.
  • Talent Development: The province is focused on improving education and training, including by expanding access to new learning technologies, and developing a new entrepreneurial training program at the Nunavut Arctic College.


General commitments – for example, to invest in economic development, training, education or infrastructure – that were not specific to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship were not included.


For media enquiries, please contact Coralie D’Souza, Director of Communications, Events + Community Relations at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.

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