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Chapter 1 – Skills, Innovation and Middle Class Jobs


Budget 2017 comes at a time of tremendous change and opportunity. 

All around the world, people are embracing innovation and the opportunities it brings—opportunities to rethink everything from how we manage the demands of work, to how we build our cities, to how we grow our economy.

For Canadians, innovation is nothing new. For the past 150 years, Canada has tapped into the creativity and ingenuity of its people to solve problems. Some Canadian inventions, like the electric oven, improve our lives; others, such as insulin and the artificial pacemaker, can help to save lives. Women and men across the country continue to dream, invent, test and bring to market products that are changing the world.

Canada’s spirit of innovation created the industries and jobs that gave rise to Canada’s middle class. That same sense of curiosity and creativity will fuel the innovations that strengthen and grow the middle class for years to come.

With those innovations will come opportunities—a real and fair chance to build better lives for ourselves and for our children. At the same time, technological change can also create anxiety—among workers who worry if their jobs will disappear due to automation, and among parents who watch their children interact with the world using devices and platforms that didn’t exist just a decade or two ago.

To make the most of these opportunities, and to offer reassurance and real help to those who worry about being left behind, we need to equip Canada’s current and future workers with the tools they will need to succeed in the new economy. That includes making sure that every Canadian can get the training they need to find and keep good, well-paying jobs.

At the same time, there is growing competition from other countries around the world that are eager to make their own mark as innovators.

It’s time for our country to prosper from the hard work and ingenuity of Canadians.

Canada’s new Innovation and Skills Plan is the plan to get there.

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan

The Innovation and Skills Plan is an ambitious effort to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation, to help create more good, well-paying jobs, and help strengthen and grow the middle class.

Canada has always been strengthened by its rich natural resources, but is equally blessed with a smart, diverse, creative and well-educated population. It’s time to invest in our people and in the added value that they bring to our economy.

To deliver the greatest benefits for Canadians, the Plan will target six key areas—advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources—with a focus on expanding growth and creating jobs. The Plan will set clear and ambitious targets to:

These goals place a strong emphasis on exports because of the connection between trade and good, well-paying jobs, as industries that are export-intensive pay wages that are, on average, more than 50 per cent higher than industries that are not.

Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of new export opportunities. With our free trade agreements, we have preferential access to a bigger share of the global economy than any other Group of Seven (G7) country. There is also a unique opportunity to boost exports by Canada’s women-led companies, which are typically underrepresented. The Government is working to solidify Canada’s advantage, strengthening our trade relationship with our most important partner, the United States, and pursuing new opportunities in large and growing markets like Europe and Asia. 

Chart 1.1
Share of Global GDP Covered by G7 Members' Free Trade Agreements1
Share of Global GDP Covered by G7 Members' Free Trade Agreements
1 With the exception of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this includes all free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded, signed or implemented by G7 countries. For Canada, this includes all implemented FTAs, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.
Sources: World Bank; Global Affairs Canada calculations.

[Chart 1.1 - Text version]

To ensure that the Innovation and Skills Plan would meet the real needs of Canadian workers and businesses, the Government undertook broad consultations, and heard from more than 100,000 Canadians, including industry leaders, academics, Indigenous leaders and other orders of government. Through those consultations, Canadians made clear their views on what the Government should seek to accomplish.

They told the Government that the Plan should be comprehensive, and aimed at creating jobs and investing in the services that make our lives better. It should help Canadians adjust and thrive during a period of slow growth and rapid change. And it should ensure that all Canadians—not just a few—benefit from a growing economy. The Government agrees.

This chapter outlines the Government’s plan to deliver its Innovation and Skills Plan. It lays out the specific investments the Government will make to ensure that Canada is home to the most skilled workforce in the world, is a nation of innovators and is a world-leader in the innovation economy.   

Table 1.1 - The Innovation and Skills Plan—Helping Canadians Succeed in the New Economy


Innovation is changing the way Canadians work. Keeping pace with these changes means equipping Canadians with the tools, skills and experience they need to succeed in the workforce, now and into the future. It also means attracting more top talent from around the world to help grow our economy. The Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan must ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to participate and thrive in the new economy.

Most Skilled, Talented, Creative and Diverse Workforce in the World

  • Help young Canadians get the skills and experience they need to kick-start their careers.
  • Make training opportunities more accessible to working Canadians.
  • Increase the number of Canadians participating in work-integrated learning.
  • Increase business investments in training.
  • Improve access to global talent through accelerated processing times.
  • Grow the number of Canadians equipped with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), coding and digital skills, especially among underrepresented groups.

Research, Technology, Commercialization

Canada’s governments and post-secondary institutions invest significantly in science, research and development, but Canada’s business community tends to underinvest in these areas. As a result, Canadian discoveries and innovations often find greater success—and create good, well-paying jobs—in other countries. To better support job growth in Canada, the Innovation and Skills Plan must encourage greater business investment in research and help bridge the commercialization gap.

World-Leading Discovery and Innovation

  • Increase investment in innovation by business in six key areas—advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources.
  • Accelerate a small number of business-led innovation “superclusters” that focus on innovative industries.
  • Increase the number of collaborations between industry, post-secondary institutions and research institutions.
  • Reinforce world class research strengths at post-secondary institutions in areas such as quantum computing, stem cells and artificial intelligence. 
  • Assist Canadian innovators in finding a first customer to test and validate their technologies through the federal government.

Program Simplification

The Government of Canada’s vast array of innovation programs makes it difficult for businesses to find and secure the support they need. The Innovation and Skills Plan must simplify this program suite to be client-centric and ensure that programs offer the best support to Canadian innovators.

Better Supporting Canadian Innovators

  • Review dozens of innovation programs situated across many departments to see how they might be consolidated and simplified.
  • Provide a client-centred approach with simpler application processes, quicker processing, and assistance that is more responsive and focused on results.
  • Bring a greater data focus to understanding, driving and reporting to Canadians on impacts from federal support.

Investment and Scale

Canada is home to many small businesses and innovative start-ups, and is recognized internationally as a good place to invest. At the same time, too many Canadian companies believe that in order to grow, they must relocate outside of Canada. The Innovation and Skills Plan must develop better tools to help Canada attract investment and support the growth of a diverse range of Canadian companies.

Growing Canadian Businesses to Compete in the World

  • Grow Canada’s goods and services exports—from resources, advanced manufacturing and others—by 30 per cent by 2025.
  • Double the number of high-growth companies in Canada, particularly in the digital, clean technology and health technology sectors, from 14,000 to 28,000 by 2025.
  • Create new, good, well-paying jobs in Canada’s areas of economic strength.
  • Increase the availability of late-stage venture capital for growing firms.
  • Help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
  • Provide a single, streamlined tool to attract and support new high-quality business investments that accelerate areas of economic strength and expand the role of Canadian firms in regional and global supply chains.

What Success Will Look Like

  • Canada will have one of the most skilled, talented, creative and diverse workforces in the world, with more opportunities for all Canadians to get the education, skills and work experience they need to participate fully in the workforce of today, as they—and their children—prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
  • Canadian businesses will be strong, growing and globally competitive—capable of becoming world leaders in their fields, leading to greater investment and more job creation in Canada.
  • Canada will be on the leading edge of discovery and innovation, with more ground-breaking research being done here at home, and more world class researchers choosing to do their work at Canadian institutions.
  • Canadian academic and research leadership in artificial intelligence will be translated into a more innovative economy, increased economic growth, and improved quality of life for Canadians. 

Part 1
Equipping Canadians With the Skills They Need to Get Good Jobs

Innovation fundamentally starts with people. Innovation is what happens when smart, skilled and creative people turn their attention to a problem, and work hard to deliver a new and inventive solution.

For Canada to be a world leader in innovation, it must also build one of the smartest, most skilled and most creative workforces in the world. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of Canadians is not new—in many ways, it is what has built Canada into the successful and prosperous country that it is today. With one of the highest rates of post-secondary education in the world—particularly for women—Canada is well-positioned to lead the way when it comes to innovation.

At the same time, innovation itself 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 build our personal and shared economic success—is being redefined.

To ensure that all Canadians can participate and thrive in an innovation-driven economy, they must be equipped with the skills they need to succeed. This is true for all Canadians—no matter their gender, age, income, education or work experience. Every Canadian deserves a chance to contribute to—and benefit from—an economy fuelled by innovation.

To create one of the world’s most skilled, talented, creative and diverse workforces, the Innovation and Skills Plan must do five key things:

Build an innovative economy that is open to all Canadians. Canadian families are diverse, but share a common dream: they want their children to have access to good, well-paying jobs—the kind of jobs that make it possible for them to pay down student debt, buy a home and start a family of their own. More must be done to give every Canadian—including those who are traditionally underrepresented in the workforce, such as Indigenous Peoples, women, Canadians with disabilities and older workers—greater opportunities to succeed. It’s not good enough to build an economy that benefits only a select few. Canada will succeed when all Canadians have a chance to learn, work and help grow the economy.

Help Canadians adapt to the changing nature of work. Jobs today are different from those that existed even a generation ago. The rise of contract and temporary work challenges our understanding of what it means to be fully employed, and employers and governments need to be more responsive to workers’ needs than ever before. By better supporting hard-working Canadians and giving them more opportunities to learn and strengthen their skills, we can keep more people in the workforce, grow our economy and strengthen our middle class. This is especially true for Millennials, who are entering the workforce at a time of tremendous change.

Help young Canadians as they enter the workforce. To give the next generation of workers a real and fair chance at success, and to ensure that Canada has enough workers to keep the economy strong and growing, the Plan must take into account the needs of young Canadians. Barriers to youth employment must be addressed, and more must be done to help young people make the transition from school to work, in a way that gets them working sooner, in jobs that make the best use of their skills.

Encourage a culture of lifelong learning. Just a generation or two ago, Canadian workers could expect to train for a good, well-paying job and then keep that job through to retirement. This is increasingly rare. Today, innovation is both changing the skills Canadian workers need to succeed, and accelerating the need to learn and develop new skills. However, it can be difficult for adults who are already employed and who may have family responsibilities to pursue training or upgrade their credentials. To better support workers in an innovation-driven economy, Canada must do more to support and encourage lifelong learning.

Create an open and creative society that attracts the best and brightest from around the world. From its earliest days, Canada’s success has been driven by the hope and hard work of those who came here in search of better opportunities for themselves and their families. The talents, skills and entrepreneurial spirit of those who come to Canada to study and work help to grow our economy, and create new jobs for Canadians. Attracting the best and brightest from around the world benefits all Canadians, and is one of the Government’s top priorities.

More Support for Canadian Workers and Their Families

For most Canadians, balancing work and family life is a daily challenge—one that can be made easier by smart and responsive policy decisions.

To give Canadian workers and their families flexible benefits that adjust to unique family and work circumstances, the Government:

Implemented the Canada Child Benefit, a tax-free monthly benefit that puts more money in the pockets of nine out of ten families who were receiving benefits under the previous system, and helps them with the high costs of raising their children.

Will make significant new investments in early learning and child care, to improve access to child care and give parents more choices when it comes to participation in work, education or training.

Will introduce a new Employment Insurance caregiving benefit, to help eligible Canadians caring for critically ill or injured family members.

Will give federally regulated employees the right to request more flexible work arrangements, such as flexible start and finish times, the ability to work from home, and new unpaid leaves to help them manage family responsibilities.

To meet these challenges, Budget 2017 proposes investments to help adult learners retrain or upgrade their skills to adapt to a changing labour market; to help young Canadians get the education, skills and work experience they need to start their careers; and to help women, older workers, Indigenous Peoples and underrepresented groups more fully participate in education and employment opportunities.

In addition, Budget 2017 proposes new funding to help Canadians prepare for the economy of tomorrow by promoting the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and digital literacy, particularly for women, girls and underrepresented groups.

What Success Will Look Like

When they are fully implemented, the investments proposed in Budget 2017 will:

  • Encourage a culture of lifelong learning, with more accessible post-secondary education, training and employment supports for all Canadian women and men, at all stages during their life.
  • Increase post-secondary education participation rates, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and other underrepresented groups.
  • Equip more young Canadians with the practical work experience and digital skills necessary to participate in the workforce of tomorrow.
  • Provide greater support for workers under the Canada Labour Code.
  • Ensure Canadian businesses can find and attract highly skilled talent from around the world, so that they can grow and succeed in the global marketplace.
  • Support greater equality in the workforce, with better outcomes for all Canadians. 
  • Improve our collective understanding of the skills and jobs employers expect to demand in the future.

Skills and Inclusive Growth

“Canada should seek to equip workers with the skills they will need to thrive in this innovative economy and encourage labour force participation among underrepresented groups in the population.”

Advisory Council on Economic Growth, Unlocking Innovation to Drive Scale and Growth, February 6, 2017

Lifelong Learning: Supporting Working Canadians

Canada’s economic success rests on the talent and creativity of its people.

Canada is already home to one of the best-educated workforces in the world, but in an increasingly competitive global economy, more needs to be done to ensure that Canada’s workers can learn, adapt and have good jobs throughout their working lives.

Every Canadian deserves a real and fair chance at success. This means more opportunities for all Canadians to improve their skills and upgrade their credentials throughout their career. For unemployed and underemployed Canadians, as well as those underrepresented in the workforce, it means greater access to the training programs and financial supports needed to get good, well-paying jobs. And for Millennials—the first generation to learn that traditional education isn’t what it used to be—it means a commitment to lifelong learning and constant adaptation to the changing nature of work.

As in many other countries, Canada’s population is aging. Ensuring our country’s long-term economic growth also requires us to tap into the experience and potential of older workers, and to better support their continued participation in the workforce.

Budget 2017 proposes a series of measures that will set the foundation for a culture of lifelong learning—one that will help equip Canadians with the skills they need to be competitive in the workforce, now and into the future.

Helping Canadians Get New and Better Jobs

Each year, the Government invests nearly $3 billion so that provinces and territories can offer a range of programs, from skills training to career counselling to job search assistance, to help unemployed and underemployed Canadians improve their skills and get their next job. This is done through four Labour Market Transfer Agreements with the provinces and territories. 

Last year, the Government held broad-based consultations on how to improve these agreements. The message back was clear—we need agreements that are more flexible and responsive to the needs of employers and Canadians, especially those who are currently underrepresented in the workforce.

The Government intends to undertake a significant reform of the Labour Market Transfer Agreements, in collaboration with the provinces and territories. This reform will ensure that more Canadians get the assistance they need to find and keep good jobs in the new economy, and build better lives for themselves and their families.

In addition to this collaborative reform, Budget 2017 proposes to invest an additional $1.8 billion over six years, starting in 2017–18, to expand the Labour Market Development Agreements. For Canadians looking for work, this means more opportunities to upgrade their skills, gain experience or get help to start their own business. It also means more support, like employment counselling, to help them plan their career.

Currently, a large number of unemployed and underemployed Canadians are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)-funded training under the Labour Market Development Agreements. To ensure that these Canadians continue to have access to the supports they need to get their next job, Budget 2017 also proposes to invest an additional $900 million over six years, starting in 2017–18, for new Workforce Development Agreements. The Workforce Development Agreements, which will consolidate the existing Canada Job Fund Agreements, the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities and the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, will make transfers to the provinces and territories simpler and more flexible.

In addition to these investments, the Government proposes to amend the Employment Insurance Act to broaden worker eligibility for programs and services under the Labour Market Development Agreements, allowing even more Canadians, especially underrepresented groups, to access EI-funded skills training and employment supports.

Budget 2017’s Gender Statement (Chapter 5) outlines the ways in which these changes are particularly beneficial for Canadian women.  

Helping Working Adults Upgrade Their Skills

To help Canadians pursue education and upgrade their skills, the Government of Canada provides a range of programs and services—from Canada Student Loans and Grants to training supports for workers to tax measures such as the Tuition Tax Credit.

While these programs help many Canadians, for too many adult workers, the high cost of post-secondary education, combined with the high cost of raising a family, can make it difficult to get the training they need to make better-paying, more secure jobs a reality. More can be done to assist those who are already employed, including workers who are in part-time, contract or precarious work, to return to school to upgrade their skills so that they can find and keep better jobs. This is especially true for women, who typically take on a greater share of unpaid work, leaving them with less time to retrain or upgrade their skills. 

Budget 2016 Investments for Adult Learners

Budget 2016 included measures to help make post-secondary education more affordable, including for adult learners looking to learn new skills. These measures included:

  • A 50 per cent increase in Canada Student Grants available for part-time students, beginning in the 2016–17 academic year. An estimated 16,000 part-time students will receive an additional $600 each year as a result of this measure. This increased support will help make post-secondary education more affordable for adult learners, many of whom are part-time students.
  • A new flat-rate contribution model to determine eligibility under the Canada Student Loans Program. This new model comes into effect for the 2017–18 academic year and replaces the old system, which focused on student income and financial assets. This new model will benefit adult learners, many of whom may work while studying or own a home or other assets.  
Part-Time Students

To ensure that more Canadians pursuing part-time studies can receive the assistance they need to upgrade their skills, without the burden of substantial new student debt, the Government intends to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants for students attending school part-time. This builds on initial actions taken in Budget 2016.

Under expanded eligibility, the existing income thresholds, which presently vary by province and territory, will be replaced with a higher, single national threshold. As family income increases, the amount of grant support received will gradually decline, depending on family size.

In addition, the threshold for eligibility for Canada Student Loans for part-time students will be increased so that even more part-time students can qualify for assistance.

Together, these changes, which will be in place for the 2018–19 academic year, are expected to make an additional 10,000 part-time students eligible for Canada Student Grants and Loans each year. To expand eligibility, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $59.8 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $17 million per year thereafter.

Students Who Support Families

To make post-secondary education more affordable for adult learners with dependent children, the Government also intends to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants for students with dependent children, starting in the 2018–19 academic year. 

Higher thresholds are expected to give an additional 13,000 students with dependants access to non-repayable student grants each year, making it more affordable for them to retrain and upgrade their skills while raising their families. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $107.4 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $29.3 million per year thereafter, to expand eligibility for these students.

Adults Returning to School

Adult students can face challenges to pursuing post-secondary education—not only because of the cost of education itself but also because of the financial pressures of maintaining their homes and supporting their families. At present, if an adult worker leaves their job to go back to school to get a new degree, diploma or certificate, they may not have access to many tools that could help make education more affordable. Canada Student Loans and Grants, for example, are often unavailable to adult workers because their prior-year incomes can make them ineligible.

To help adults who wish to return to school after spending several years in the workforce, the Government intends to introduce a three-year pilot project to test new approaches to make it easier for adult learners to qualify for Canada Student Loans and Grants. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $287.2 million over three years, starting in 2018–19, for this pilot project. Over the next year, the Government will work to finalize program design so that the pilot project is in place starting in the 2018–19 academic year.

These measures are expected to benefit Canadian women in particular, who often strive to improve their career prospects while balancing family responsibilities. Women represent nearly two-thirds of the Canada Student Loans Program’s part-time recipients, while approximately four out of five students receiving the Canada Student Grant for students with dependent children are women.

Taken together, these initiatives represent an investment of $454.4 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $46.3 million per year thereafter, to help Canada’s middle class workers find and keep good jobs.

Enhanced Canada Student Loans and Grants

Selena is a single parent of an 8-year-old son. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, where she works as an administrative assistant and earns a pre-tax income of $35,000 per year. Selena is considering enrolling in a part-time Business Administration program at Lethbridge College—the program would allow her to upgrade her qualifications, while continuing to work and care for her son.

In 2016–17, Selena would have been eligible for a Canada Student Loan of up to $10,000, but would not have qualified for the Canada Student Grant for Part-Time Studies.

Beginning in the 2018–19 academic year, the eligibility for part-time grants will be expanded. In addition to student loans, Selena will be eligible to receive an $1,800 Canada Student Grant for Part-Time Studies, as well as $1,360 in grant funding for students with dependent children. This will give Selena a total of $3,160 in non-repayable Canada Student Grants to help with the cost of her studies.

Encouraging Unemployed Canadians to Seek New Training Through Employment Insurance

Today, if an unemployed worker is receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, they may lose their eligibility for those benefits if they return to school or undertake training for more than 14 hours per week without the necessary referral from designated authorities. This occurs because current EI policies require individuals to actively seek work. However, without EI benefits, many unemployed Canadians can’t afford to pay the bills and support their families while also pursuing the training they need to improve their skills and find new work.

To help more unemployed Canadians get the training they need to get a good, well-paying job, the Government proposes to make better use of existing flexibilities within the EI program that allow claimants to pursue self-funded training and maintain their EI status. For unemployed workers receiving EI, this will mean that they can return to school to get the training they need to find a new job—without fear of losing the EI benefits they need to support themselves and their families. This will provide greater security to Canadian families at a time when they need help most.

Budget 2017 proposes to provide $132.4 million over four years, beginning in 2018–19, and $37.9 million per year thereafter, to allow unemployed Canadians to pursue self-funded training while receiving EI benefits.

Investing in Skills Innovation

As recommended by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth and the Forum of Labour Market Ministers, new approaches are needed to address skills gaps and support lifelong learning throughout Canadians’ working lives. To that end, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $225 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $75 million per year thereafter, to establish a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada.

Working in partnership with willing provinces and territories, the private sector, educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations, this organization will:

Further details on this new organization will be shared in the coming months.

Table 1.2
Helping Working Adults Upgrade Their Skills
  Canada Student Loans and Grants Expanded Labour Market Development Agreements New Workforce Development Agreements Employment Insurance (EI) Regular Benefits
Worker 1—Brad

Brad is an unemployed adult who has been laid off due to an economic shock. He qualifies for EI and would benefit from long-term training.
Depending on family income, Brad would be eligible for the Canada Student Grant for Full- or Part-Time Studies, in addition to Canada Student Loans. Increased funding for the Labour Market Development Agreements will allow more Canadians, like Brad, to access skills training and employment supports. While Brad may qualify for training under the Workforce Development Agreements, these agreements will focus training and employment supports towards unemployed and underemployed Canadians not eligible for EI-funded training. Brad qualifies for EI regular benefits, based on his employment history.

New flexibilities will allow him to pursue self-funded training without losing his EI benefits.
Worker 2—Riya

Riya is a mother of two. She has been out of the workforce for several years but wants to return. She doesn’t qualify for EI, but wants to go back to school.
Depending on family income, Riya would be eligible for the Canada Student Grant for Full- or Part-Time Studies and the Canada Student Grant for Students with Dependants, in addition to Canada Student Loans. Expanded worker eligibility under the Labour Market Development Agreements would potentially allow Riya to access skills training and employment supports. Riya could have access to training and employment supports under the new Workforce Development Agreements.  Riya does not qualify for EI regular benefits based on her employment history.
Worker 3—Adnan

Adnan is married with two kids. He works at a job in an industry that is in decline. He wants to pursue training while he works to prepare for a better job.
Depending on family income, Adnan would be eligible for the Canada Student Grant for Part-Time Studies and the Canada Student Grant for Students with Dependants, in addition to Canada Student Loans. Expanded worker eligibility under the Labour Market Development Agreements would potentially allow employed Canadians like Adnan to access skills training and employment supports. Adnan could potentially have access to training and employment supports under the new Workforce Development Agreements. Adnan is not eligible for EI regular benefits as he is employed. He would be eligible for benefits if he loses his job.
Worker 4—Léa

Léa is a young adult who is precariously employed, and is struggling to make ends meet through part-time work. She didn’t complete post-secondary education but wants to upgrade her skills while she works.
Depending on family income, Léa would be eligible for the Canada Student Grant for Part-Time Studies, in addition to Canada Student Loans. Expanded worker eligibility under the Labour Market Development Agreements would potentially allow employed Canadians like Léa to access skills training and employment supports. Léa could have access to training and employment supports under the new Workforce Development Agreements. Léa is not eligible for EI regular benefits as she is employed. She would be eligible for benefits if she loses her job.

Helping Young Canadians Succeed

Young Canadians will be the ones who drive the future growth of Canada’s economy—yet too many struggle to complete the education they need to succeed now, and in the future.

Even young Canadians who do well in school can find it difficult to get the practical work experience they need to find and keep good, well-paying jobs after graduation. 

To help young Canadians succeed, Budget 2017 proposes a number of measures that will help create good, well-paying jobs and support young Canadians as they transition into the workforce.

Expanding the Youth Employment Strategy

Canadian youth have the talent and drive to succeed in the labour market. To help them make the transition from school to work and get a strong start in their careers, the Government invests in the Youth Employment Strategy, a government-wide initiative to help support Canada’s newest workers.

Last year, the Government announced new investments in the Youth Employment Strategy and the Canada Summer Jobs program, which help to create short-term job opportunities for students between the ages of 15 and 30. 

These investments are supporting the creation of:

To further expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, Budget 2017 proposes to provide an additional $395.5 million over three years, starting in 2017–18, for the Youth Employment Strategy. Combined with Budget 2016 measures, these investments will help more than 33,000 vulnerable youth develop the skills they need to find work or go back to school; create 15,000 new green jobs for young Canadians; and provide over 1,600 new employment opportunities for youth in the heritage sector.

Real Talk About the Barriers to Youth Employment

Budget 2016 announced the creation of an Expert Panel on Youth Employment to examine the barriers that young Canadians—especially vulnerable youth—face in finding and keeping jobs. The Panel, which consulted with young people, employers, community organizations and service providers in communities all across Canada, was also tasked with considering innovative practices that could be used to help improve young Canadians’ job prospects.  

In its interim report, released in December 2016, the Panel described the feedback it had received to date. Young people talked about the challenges they face in transitioning to work—from the need to develop “soft” skills like workplace communication, to more practical challenges like finding transportation to work. Employers expressed a positive view of young people, but weren’t always sure how to navigate hiring programs, or how to best use the talents and skills that young people possess. Other issues, like the future of work and the value of entrepreneurship, were also discussed.

The Panel is expected to deliver its final report in the spring of 2017. Its recommendations will help inform future decisions on how best to help young Canadians succeed in the labour market.

A New, Ambitious Approach to Work-Integrated Learning

Co-operative education and work-integrated learning programs, such as the ones offered by the University of Waterloo, the Université de Sherbrooke, Dalhousie University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, are a proven way for students to get the work experience they need to build their résumés and build a network of professional contacts.

To create new co-op placements and work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and business programs, Budget 2016 provided $73 million over four years for job-creating partnerships between employers and interested post-secondary institutions. This investment is expected to create up to 8,700 new work-integrated learning placements over the next four years, making more opportunities available to young women and men interested in STEM.

To create even more work-integrated learning opportunities for Canadian students, the Government intends to renew and expand federal funding for Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between industry and educational institutions.

Mitacs has set an ambitious goal of providing 10,000 work-integrated learning placements for Canadian post-secondary students and graduates each year—up from the current level of around 3,750 placements. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $221 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to achieve this goal and provide relevant work experience to Canadian students.

Renewing Investments in Pathways to Education Canada

Each year, too many young Canadians drop out of high school—often because they don’t have access to the basic supports needed to succeed in school. To help these young students, the Government provides support to Pathways to Education Canada, a charitable organization that helps youth in lower-income communities across Canada complete high school and successfully transition into post-secondary education and employment.

Budget 2017 proposes to renew the Government’s support for Pathways to Education Canada by providing $38 million over four years, starting in 2018–19. Of this amount, $14 million will be reallocated from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources. With this renewed funding, Pathways to Education Canada will provide more vulnerable youth with the supports they need to succeed in school, including tutoring, career mentoring and financial help, such as scholarships and internships.  

Pathways to Education Canada

Established in 2001, Pathways to Education Canada works with local partners to provide youth from lower-income neighbourhoods with the academic, social and financial supports they need to complete high school. Launched as a pilot project in the Regent Park area of Toronto, the Pathways program has since expanded to18 communities across Canada, and served more than 5,300 students in 2014–15.

The Pathways program has proven to be very successful—on average, high school graduation rates increased by 85 per cent in communities offering the Pathways program. Between 2004 and 2015, more than 4,000 Pathways students successfully graduated from high school; nearly three-quarters of these graduates have gone on to pursue post-secondary education or training, further improving their prospects for finding good, well-paying jobs.

Improving Access to the Canada Learning Bond

When families are able to get an early start in saving for post-secondary education, the benefits are two-fold: it makes post-secondary education more affordable and reduces student debt loads upon graduation.

Currently, the Government encourages families to save for their children’s post-secondary education through tax-assisted Registered Education Savings Plans, and provides additional support to help low-income families get a head start on their savings through the Canada Learning Bond.

Unfortunately, some low-income families face barriers in accessing these opportunities to save. In 2015, only one-third of eligible children received the Canada Learning Bond.

To help more low-income families benefit from the Canada Learning Bond, Budget 2017 proposes to reallocate $12.5 million over six years, starting in 2017–18, from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources to launch a pilot project. Working with community organizations and businesses, the pilot project will explore new ways to increase awareness of the program and reduce barriers to access.

Budget 2017 also proposes to amend the Canada Education Savings Act to allow the cohabiting spouse or common-law partner of the primary caregiver to apply for the Canada Learning Bond and the Additional Canada Education Savings Grant. This change will simplify the application process, ensuring that more children who are eligible for these benefits receive the support they need to help pursue post-secondary education.

Youth Service

As announced in Budget 2016, the Youth Service Initiative will help young Canadians gain valuable work experience while providing support for communities across Canada. The Government will launch the Initiative in the fall of 2017, including a call for proposals to give youth the opportunity to serve.

Building a Workforce That Looks Like Canada

Though the number of Canadians in the workforce continues to grow, the pace of growth is slowing. Canada’s future economic success rests on building a workforce that is more innovative and more inclusive, and better reflects the full range of Canadian talent.

Expanding Employment Insurance Benefits to Offer More Flexibility for Families

Every Canadian family is different—and has different needs when it comes to how they manage work and family responsibilities.

Today, millions of Canadians provide informal care and support for seriously ill family members. Currently, Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are available to eligible caregivers in cases where a loved one is gravely ill and at significant risk of death, or where a child is critically ill or injured. 

To better support caregivers, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $691.3 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $168.1 million per year thereafter, to create a new EI caregiving benefit of up to 15 weeks. The new benefit will cover a broader range of situations where individuals are providing care to an adult family member who requires significant support in order to recover from a critical illness or injury. Parents of critically ill children will continue to have access to up to 35 weeks of benefits, with additional flexibility to share these benefits with more family members.

To help working parents navigate the challenges that come with a growing family, Budget 2017 proposes to make EI parental benefits more flexible. Proposed changes will allow parents to choose to receive EI parental benefits over an extended period of up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33 per cent of average weekly earnings. EI parental benefits will continue to be available at the existing benefit rate of 55 per cent over a period of up to 12 months. Making EI parental benefits more flexible is expected to cost $152 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $27.5 million per year thereafter.

Budget 2017 also proposes to allow women to claim EI maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date—expanded from the current standard of 8 weeks—if they so choose. The additional flexibility is expected to cost $43.1 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $9.2 million per year thereafter.

To implement these measures, Budget 2017 proposes to amend the Employment Insurance Act. The Government also proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated sectors have the job protection they need while they are receiving caregiving, parental or maternity benefits.

Improving Benefit Delivery

The Government of Canada delivers billions of dollars in direct benefits to Canadians through its many federal programs, including Employment Insurance, Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan. Canadians expect that benefits will be delivered in a timely manner and that they will have secure and easy-to-use options for interacting with federal services.

To that end, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $12.1 million in 2017–18 to Employment and Social Development Canada to develop modern approaches to service delivery, beginning with Employment Insurance. Through the modernization of benefit delivery, the Government will improve Canadians’ access to services and benefits, including speeding up application processes.

Modernizing the Canada Labour Code

As the nature of work changes, so too should the rules governing federally regulated workers. To ensure that laws reflect the changing world of work, and to better support Canadian workers as they seek to balance the responsibilities of work and family, Budget 2017 proposes targeted amendments to the Canada Labour Code. 

Proposed amendments will:

Strengthen and modernize compliance and enforcement provisions. To ensure that hard-working Canadians can more easily recover wages owed to them by their employer, and to ensure that employers who repeatedly offend will be punished, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $13 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $2.5 million per year ongoing, to strengthen compliance and enforcement mechanisms. Of this amount, $3 million over five years will be reallocated from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources.

Give federally regulated employees the right to request more flexible work arrangements. To help Canadians better balance work and family demands, Budget 2017 proposes to give federally regulated workers the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employer, such as flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home. Proposed changes will also provide federally regulated workers with new unpaid leaves for family responsibilities, to participate in traditional Indigenous practices, and to seek care if they are victims of family violence. Changes will also make bereavement leave more flexible. 

Limit unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors. While internships can give young Canadians the hands-on work experience they need to make a successful transition into the workforce, some internships—in particular those that are unpaid—can be unfair and exploitative. Budget 2017 proposes to eliminate unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors where the internships are not part of a formal educational program. These changes will also ensure that unpaid interns who are part of an educational program are entitled to labour standard protections, such as maximum hours of work, weekly days of rest and general holidays.

Creating More Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples are among the youngest and fastest-growing segments of the Canadian population. There have historically been many barriers to their success—particularly when it comes to pursuing post-secondary education and finding good, well-paying work. The Government is committed to renewing Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples and making real progress on the issues that matter most to them, including helping Indigenous Peoples get the skills and work experience they need to succeed. 

The proposed investments in Budget 2017 will help to improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples and contribute to stronger economic growth in Indigenous communities, and in Canada as a whole.

Post-Secondary Student Support Program

Indigenous Peoples face a range of challenges in accessing post-secondary education, including financial barriers. To ensure that Indigenous students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students, Budget 2017 proposes to increase funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program by $90 million over two years, beginning in 2017–18.

This funding will support the post-secondary education financial needs of over 4,600 students over the two-year period.

The Government will also undertake a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review will be to ensure that these programs meet the needs of individual students while supporting attendance at, and completion of, a post-secondary degree or credential. 


Indspire is an Indigenous-led registered charitable organization with a proven track record of helping Indigenous students attend post-secondary institutions and find good jobs. It assists First Nations, Inuit and Métis students with the financial support they need to complete their education, become self-sufficient, contribute to the economy and give back to their communities.  

Budget 2017 proposes to provide Indspire with $5 million per year for five years, starting in 2017–18, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector. In total, this will provide $40 million over five years in bursaries and scholarships for more than 12,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.

In addition, the Government will propose amendments to the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, so that students who are registered under the Indian Act but do not have Canadian citizenship can access the Canada Student Loans Program.

Supporting Access to Skills Development and Training for Indigenous Peoples

The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) helps Indigenous Peoples in all parts of the country get the skills and training they need to fully participate in the economy and contribute to the success of their communities.

To ensure that programming continues to meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the Government will work with Indigenous organizations, employers, educational institutions and other stakeholders in the coming year to renew and improve ASETS. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $50 million in 2017–18 in ASETS, which includes new funding, the investment made in Budget 2016, as well as additional reallocated resources from other programming that support skills and training more generally. These investments will provide ASETS service providers with added capacity to meet the growing demand from Indigenous Peoples for skills development and job training. 

Reducing Employment Barriers for First Nations Youth Living On-Reserve

First Nations youth on-reserve face unique challenges to enter the labour force. It is important that youth have the supports they need to access employment opportunities so that they can begin careers that will benefit them over the course of their lifetimes. To help First Nations youth acquire better pre-employment skills, access education and training, and overcome barriers to employment, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $39.2 million in 2017–18 to provide case management services for youth living on-reserve. 

Investing in Adult Basic Education in the North

The Northern Adult Basic Education Program is designed to provide residents in the three territories with targeted training so that they can participate more fully in the labour market. To support the delivery of adult basic education services by local colleges, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $14.7 million over three years starting in 2017–18 to extend and enhance the Northern Adult Basic Education Program.

Attracting Top Talent From Around the World

Innovative industries are well-served by the deep pool of Canadian talent, but the fast pace of change and growth often means that they need to look beyond Canada’s borders for workers who possess unique and specialized skills.

In recognition of the fact that diversity is a source of strength, the Government supports immigration programs that help to attract top talent to Canada, with a particular focus on attracting talent that will help innovative businesses grow and lead to the creation of more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians.

Global Skills Strategy

As announced in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, the Government will launch a Global Skills Strategy to faciliate faster access to top global talent for companies doing business in Canada that are committing to bring new skills to Canada and create more Canadian jobs. 

The Global Skills Strategy will set an ambitious two-week standard for processing visas and work permits for global talent. The Strategy will support:

Building on funding announced in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, Budget 2017 proposes to provide an additional $7.8 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to implement a new Global Talent Stream under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as part of the Global Skills Strategy. 

Also under the Global Skills Strategy, the Government will introduce a new work permit exemption for short-duration work terms. The short-duration work permit exemption will apply for work terms of fewer than 30 days in a year—or for brief academic stays—and will be used for short-term, inter-company work exchanges, study exchanges or the entrance of temporary expertise.

Budget 2017 also proposes to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to ensure that the Express Entry system—the system that manages Canada’s economic permanent residence programs—is responsive to the needs of the Canadian labour market, and that the candidates most likely to succeed in Canada are selected. Budget 2017 also proposes to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow the Government to set relevant fees in a timely manner.

Attracting Talent to Strengthen University Research

Canada is a world leader when it comes to investing in research at post-secondary institutions, ranking first among G7 nations and eighth among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations. A significant portion of these investments are made by the Government. Federal investments in post-secondary research and research training are summarized below.

Federal Investments in Post-Secondary Research and Research Training in 2016–17

$3,060 million

in planned granting agency support for research and research training.

E.g., scholarships, fellowships, research grants, and support for the overhead costs associated with federally funded research conducted in post-secondary institutions.

$340 million

in planned support for equipment and facilities for post-secondary institutions, research hospitals, and other not-for-profit institutions.

E.g., the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which supports research infrastructure, Compute Canada and CANARIE, which provides an ultra-high-speed network for researchers.

$158 million

in planned support for arm's length organizations, most of which support higher education research.

E.g., Mitacs, which supports collaborative industry-academia research projects with a focus on the training of highly qualified personnel, Genome Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Stem Cell Network, the Institute for Quantum Computing, Brain Canada and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

$741 million

for investments to accelerate infrastructure projects at universities and colleges and affiliated institutions through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

$186 million

in other expenditures for research and development and related scientific activities in the higher education sector.

E.g., research performed by institutions in the post-secondary sector for science-based departments and agencies.

In recognition of the importance of research excellence and in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, approximately 25 Canada 150 Research Chairs will be created to attract top-tier international scholars and researchers to Canada and enhance Canada’s reputation as a global centre for innovation, science and research excellence. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $117.6 million over eight years for these new chairs, funded with resources within the existing Canada Excellence Research Chairs program.

Canada’s Research Chair Programs Attract World Class Researchers

Canada Research Chair in Medical Genomics: Dr. Jacques Corbeil

Dr. Jacques Corbeil, Canada Research Chair in Medical Genomics at Université Laval, focuses his research on deciphering the interactions between agents such as HIV-1, respiratory viruses and other microorganisms, and the human host.

Dr. Corbeil’s research will lead to improved understanding of infectious diseases, and could result in improved diagnostic tools and treatments to fight them.

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human Pain Genetics: Dr. Luda Diatchenko

At McGill University, Dr. Luda Diatchenko focuses her research on the genetic basis of pain in humans, and on developing personalized approaches to treatment.

Approximately 20 per cent of Canadians suffer from chronic pain, making it not only the number one reason that people seek health care, but also the number one concern of patients with long-term illnesses.

Working with her team at McGill University’s Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, Dr. Diatchenko aims to facilitate the development of individualized treatments and therapies for conditions related to chronic pain.

Improving the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program

To ensure that Canadian workers are always considered first for available jobs, while giving Canadian employers the opportunity to hire temporary foreign workers to fill jobs where labour shortages have been proven, the Government intends to make improvements to the two programs that govern the entry of temporary foreign workers into Canada.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest $279.8 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $49.8 million per year thereafter, to support the continued delivery of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program. This investment will build on Canada’s new Global Skills Strategy, which will help to facilitate the temporary entry of high-skilled global talent.

Ensuring that employers comply with program rules, and taking steps to ensure that foreign workers are aware of their rights while in Canada, will help to improve working conditions for foreign workers in every Canadian community. 

Budget 2017 also proposes to eliminate the Labour Market Impact Assessment processing fee for families seeking to hire foreign caregivers to provide care for persons with high medical needs, and for middle class families with less than $150,000 in annual income seeking to hire foreign caregivers to provide child care. Waiving the fee for these families will ensure that support is targeted at those most in need of assistance to meet their family caregiving responsibilities. The cost of this measure is $24.5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $4.9 million per year thereafter.

The Government will continue to work and engage with stakeholders to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program meets the needs of workers and employers.

A Better Future for Temporary Foreign Workers

In December 2016, the Government announced plans to improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In particular, changes will:

  • Introduce stronger recruitment requirements for low-wage employers, where appropriate, so that Canadian workers that are traditionally underrepresented in the labour market have better access to available job opportunities.
  • Eliminate the four-year cumulative duration rule, which has caused unnecessary hardship and instability for both temporary foreign workers and their employers.
  • Extend the exemption to the cap on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers employed by firms in seasonal industries for 2017.
  • Include further work on developing pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers.

Recognizing Foreign Credentials

Once in Canada as permanent residents, highly skilled newcomers can face barriers that limit their employment opportunities.

To ensure that newcomers to Canada are able to put their skills to good use and maximize their contribution to the economy, Budget 2017 proposes to reallocate $27.5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $5.5 million per year thereafter from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources to support a Targeted Employment Strategy for Newcomers.

The Strategy will have three components:

The Strategy will help reduce barriers and support newcomers as they put their skills to work in the Canadian economy.

Giving Canadians Living With Disabilities an Opportunity to Succeed

Canadians living with disabilities have the same ambitions as all other Canadians—they want an opportunity to find good, well-paying jobs, make a contribution to their communities and the economy, and build a better life for themselves and their families.

In the coming year, the Government will explore options to improve work opportunities and employment outcomes for persons with disabilities. This will include the development of new planned federal accessibility legislation, which will promote equality of opportunity and increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians who have disabilities or functional limitations by increasing accessibility and removing barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction. The Government sought input from Canadians on this planned legislation through consultations held between July 2016 and February 2017.

Preparing for the Digital Economy

More and more aspects of Canadians’ lives are touched by digital technology on a daily basis. Digital skills are increasingly relevant—in school, at home and in the workplace. To ensure that Canadians have the digital skills they need to succeed, the Government intends to invest in developing and supporting the digital skills of younger and older Canadians, and groups that are underrepresented in the digital economy.

Teaching Kids to Code

Providing educational opportunities for digital skills development to Canadian girls and boys—from kindergarten to grade 12—will give them the head start they need to find and keep good, well-paying, in-demand jobs. To help provide coding and digital skills education to more young Canadians, the Government intends to launch a competitive process through which digital skills training organizations can apply for funding. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $50 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to support these teaching initiatives.

Expanding Digital Learning Opportunities

Digital skills widen Canadians’ access to a world of possibilities. Budget 2017 proposes $29.5 million over the next five years for a new Digital Literacy Exchange program. The program will support non-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills, including how to use the Internet safely and effectively, at pre-existing facilities such as public libraries, refugee housing complexes and seniors’ homes. The program will focus on vulnerable groups such as low-income individuals and families, and seniors.

Developing Assistive Technology

Assistive technologies such as screen readers, alternative keyboards and refreshable braille displays can make it easier for Canadians with disabilities to more fully participate in the digital economy. To expand the range of assistive technologies, and to give more Canadians better access to digital services, the Government proposes to establish a new Accessible Technology Development program. This program would co-fund innovative projects led by private sector firms, non-profit organizations and research institutes, to develop new assistive devices and technologies. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $22.3 million over five years to establish this program.

Targeted Improvements to Internet Inclusivity

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Canada is tied for 8th out of 75 countries in terms of Internet inclusivity. Canada does particularly well on measures of Internet affordability—ranking first overall. Canada is also successful in terms of Internet quality and availability and in terms of having local and relevant Internet content. An area where Canada can improve, however, is by addressing digital divides that result in some Canadians being underserved by the digital economy. The Digital Literacy Exchange and Accessible Technology Development programs proposed in Budget 2017 will enable Canada to make progress in this important area.

Making Home Internet Access More Affordable for Low-Income Families

Access to the Internet opens up a world of opportunities—from social connections with friends and family to new ways to learn and work. Most Canadians are already online, but many low-income families face financial barriers to access, such as the cost of purchasing a computer and the high cost of an Internet connection at home. 

Budget 2017 proposes to invest $13.2 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, in a new Affordable Access program, which will help service providers offer low-cost home Internet packages to interested low-income families.

As the cost of computer hardware is also a barrier for some families, a target of 50,000 computers refurbished through the existing Computers for Success Canada program will also be distributed to families, along with the low-cost Internet packages.

To better understand how Canadians use digital technology, Budget 2017 also proposes to allocate $5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, for Statistics Canada and private sector-led surveys on the impact of digital technology in Canada.

What Success Will Look Like

Dave, 35, is a single father of two young children. Unable to complete high school when he was a teenager, Dave is currently working full-time in a retail job but hopes to obtain his high school diploma and possibly go to college.

Because of his work and family responsibilities, Dave would prefer to take high school classes online, so that he can be at home with his children while he studies. Unfortunately, his monthly expenses make it difficult to save for a quality home Internet connection and a computer. Beyond his own needs, Dave is also worried that the lack of a computer and Internet connection will affect his children’s ability to participate in school and learning activities outside the classroom.

When the Affordable Access program is in place, Dave will be able to contact an Internet service provider that offers low-cost Internet packages to low-income families. Dave will also be eligible to receive a free refurbished computer so he and his children can access the Internet to learn and play.

Promoting STEM to Young Canadians

Young Canadians are curious, talented, entrepreneurial and well-educated—traits that make them well-positioned to deliver the next great breakthrough in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

In order to unlock this potential, young Canadians need to have equal access to the formative experiences that can spark new ideas and inspire careers in these important fields. This is especially true for those young Canadians who are traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields, including women and Indigenous Peoples.

The PromoScience Program helps to introduce diverse groups of young Canadians to the power and potential of these exciting fields through hands-on learning experiences, such as space camps and conservation projects. To support these efforts, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $10.8 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to allow PromoScience to support more STEM learning activities for Canadian youth—in particular underrepresented groups.

Teachers also play an important role in keeping students engaged in formal STEM learning, and in developing the culture of innovation that Canada needs today, and in the future. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $1.5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to expand the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence to include 17 new STEM-themed awards. These awards will recognize teaching excellence and allow for broad sharing of teaching practices at the national level.

To help more Canadians learn about and celebrate extraordinary accomplishments in research excellence, Budget 2017 also proposes to create a new Prime Minister’s Gold Medal. This award will recognize scientific excellence and bring greater international acclaim to Canadian scientists and researchers.

Inspiring Ideas From Young Canadians

The Minister of Finance’s Post-Secondary Policy Forum invites post-secondary students from across Canada to play the role of public policy advisor, and contribute their best ideas to the Minister of Finance.

More than 40 students participated in submitting proposals on a range of important issues, tackling challenges ranging from how to reform the Employment Insurance system to better fit with the modern economy, to how to moderate housing prices in hot real estate markets, to how to encourage investment in Canada through tax reform. Every submission provided a fresh perspective and inspired policy-makers to rethink their approach to solving Canada’s most pressing challenges.

The winning submission—a proposal entitled “Recalibrating Canadian Labour Development for a Precarious Economy”—was submitted by students at McMaster University. In recognition of their creative and innovative thinking, the student team was invited to Ottawa to further discuss their idea and attend events related to Budget Day, 2017.

Part 2
A Nation of Innovators

To help Canada realize its potential as a global leader in innovation, the Government must ensure that its services best meet the needs of Canada’s innovators and job creators.

That includes finding new ways to deliver business innovation programs. Budget 2017 proposes measures that will help deliver simpler, more efficient and more coordinated support to Canadian entrepreneurs, global companies looking to set up shop in Canada, and global investors considering partnerships with innovative Canadian firms.

In advancing the Innovation and Skills Plan, Canada and Canadian firms face several challenges:

Bringing Canadian innovations to market. Canada’s governments and post-secondary institutions invest significantly in science, research and development, but Canada’s business community tends to underinvest in these areas. As a result, Canadian discoveries and innovations often find greater success—and create good, well-paying jobs—in other countries. To better support job growth in Canada, the Innovation and Skills Plan needs to better support business investment in research, and help bridge the commercialization gap.

Streamlining Canada’s innovation programs. While the Government broadly supports any initiatives that help make Canadian companies more innovative, at present, the vast array of innovation programs makes it difficult for businesses to find and secure the support they need. The Innovation and Skills Plan must simplify Canada’s existing suite of innovation programs, make them more client-centric, and ensure that they offer the best support to Canadian innovators. This is particularly important in industries where certain groups, such as women, are underrepresented.

Attracting investment and encouraging growth in Canada. Canada is home to many small businesses and innovative start-ups, and is recognized internationally as a good place to invest. At the same time, too many Canadian companies believe that in order to grow, they must relocate outside of Canada. To ensure that good, well-paying jobs stay in Canada, the Innovation and Skills Plan must develop better tools to help attract investment and support the growth of a diverse range of Canadian companies.

What Success Will Look Like

  • Superclusters that will make it easier for innovators and potential customers to work closely together on research, development and demonstration activities that pursue major commercial opportunities, to boost productivity, and create jobs and drive economic growth.
  • Greater collaboration between creative thinkers from all parts of society, who can work together to solve the shared challenges that matter for Canada (such as encouraging more equal participation in the workforce) and spur innovation and growth within the economy.
  • A stronger track record for attracting and retaining high-quality business investments that build on Canadian technology and industrial strengths.
  • Better support for Canadian innovators, including better access to more streamlined, simpler and timelier help that responds to business needs and is focused on results.

Innovation Canada: A New Approach to Supporting Canadian Innovators

To make it easier for Canadian innovators to access and benefit from Government-led innovation programs, the Government proposes to review dozens of innovation programs situated across many departments to see how they might be consolidated and simplified. This will reduce the amount of legwork and paperwork required, give more timely and more relevant access to innovation services, and ultimately put more money in the hands of Canadian innovators.

Calling for Change

“The Council strongly recommends reviewing and retooling Canada’s innovation programs to support Canada’s 21st century inclusive growth ambitions. This would involve examining current programs, eliminating ones that are not effective, redirecting resources, and adopting the analytical frameworks to create effective innovation programs and manage them using data. To help Canada compete globally, Canada must fund innovation programs that are relevant in a changing context and that support a coherent, agile and data-driven innovation ecosystem.”

Advisory Council on Economic Growth, Unlocking Innovation to Drive Scale and Growth, February 6, 2017

Budget 2017 proposes to establish Innovation Canada, a new platform led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada that will coordinate and simplify the support available to Canada’s innovators.

To better support Canada’s innovators, Innovation Canada will: 

Lead the creation of Canada’s economic growth strategies. Working with leading Canadian innovators, Innovation Canada will develop six Economic Strategy Tables to identify innovation opportunities in advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources. The Economic Strategy Tables will set ambitious growth targets for Canadian innovators, identify sector-specific challenges and “bottlenecks” to innovation as well as barriers to greater participation across gender lines, and lay out specific strategies to help innovators achieve their targets. The Economic Strategy Tables will help guide the Government in its efforts to provide relevant and effective programs for Canada’s innovators.

Figure 1.1
Economic Strategies — A Value Chain Approach
Figure 1.1 - Economic Strategies — A Value Chain Approach

[Figure 1.1 - Text version]

Initiate a whole-of-government review of business innovation programs. To ensure that its programs are simple and effective and best meet the needs of Canada’s innovators, the Government will review existing programs with the help of external experts. The review will encompass all relevant federal organizations, including Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. In parallel, the Government will also review the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive program to ensure its continued effectiveness and efficiency.

In time, Innovation Canada will serve as a one-stop-shop for Canada’s innovators. Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs will no longer need to spend time figuring out which department to go to or which program best meets their needs. Innovation Canada will host the federal government’s simplified suite of innovation programs that will better enable and support Canadian innovators.

Figure 1.2
Innovation Canada
Figure 1.2 - Innovation Canada
Note: Measures described throughout Chapter 1.

[Figure 1.2 - Text version]

Accelerating Innovation Through Superclusters

Clusters—dense areas of business activity that contain large and small companies, post-secondary institutions and specialized talent and infrastructure—energize economies and act as engines of growth. They create jobs, encourage knowledge sharing, drive business specialization and help to attract “anchor” companies from around the world. Successful clusters like the ones in Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tel Aviv and the Toronto-Waterloo corridor contribute significantly to both regional and national economies.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest up to $950 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to be provided on a competitive basis in support of a small number of business-led innovation “superclusters” that have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth.

The competition will launch in 2017 and focus on superclusters that enhance Canada’s global competitiveness by focusing on highly innovative industries such as advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health/bio-sciences and clean resources, as well as infrastructure and transportation.

These are industries that traditionally attract more skilled workers who are men, compared to women. Budget 2017 proposes to work with partners from all aspects of Canadian society to shift this trend, help more women succeed and help grow Canada’s middle class.

Of the $950 million, $800 million will be drawn from the Budget 2016 provision for innovation networks and clusters and $150 million will be drawn from the public transit and green infrastructure allocations provisioned in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement.

What Would Superclusters Look Like?

Risk sharing to develop platform technologies and disruptive technologies that will boost Canada’s competitiveness in areas of economic strength (e.g. advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital economy, health/bio-sciences, clean resources, and infrastructure and transportation).


Strong connections between businesses, from large anchor firms to start-ups, post-secondary institutions and research institutions that support private sector-led research and development that is linked to commercial outcomes with application in the real economy.


Create opportunities to grow Canadian companies through globally integrated supply chains.


Diverse and skilled talent pools enhanced by advisory services and business mentoring for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises that lead to opportunities for Canadians to access high-value, well-paying jobs.


Focus on innovative solutions that will improve the quality of life of Canadians and allow businesses to better perform in a competitive environment.

Innovating to Solve Canada’s Big Challenges

Innovation can do more than just drive strong economic growth. It also has the potential to solve the big challenges that face Canadians and their communities. For its part, the Government is committed to taking an innovative approach to solving difficult public policy challenges. This includes opening up the problem-solving process to Canadian and global innovators, who can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to Canada’s big challenges.

From building more affordable housing in Indigenous communities to providing affordable high-speed Internet access to more homes and accelerating the adoption of renewable energy in our cities and transportation systems, the Government recognizes that big challenges demand new and innovative solutions.

By working with innovators from the private sector, non-profit organizations and social enterprises—as well as individual citizens—these new, innovative solutions can be found.

Budget 2017 proposes to create a new initiative, the Impact Canada Fund, to introduce a new mission- or “challenge”-based approach for the federal government and help focus and accelerate efforts toward solving Canada’s big challenges. The Impact Canada Fund will focus its initial efforts in two problem-solving streams:

  1. A clean technology stream, supported by up to $75 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to address challenges such as helping Canada’s rural and remote communities reduce their reliance on diesel as a power source.
  2. A smart cities stream, supported by $300 million over 11 years, that will support the Smart Cities Challenge (see Chapter 2 for additional details).

Budget 2017 also proposes to provide $8.1 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to oversee the implementation of the Impact Canada Fund. This initiative will also help advance the President of the Treasury Board’s mandate commitment to devote a fixed percentage of government program funds to experimentation.

The New Strategic Innovation Fund: A Simpler, More Flexible Tool to Grow Canada’s Economy

Making sure that Canada is a top destination for businesses to invest, grow and create jobs and prosperity for Canadians is one of the Government’s top priorities.

Budget 2017 proposes to create a new $1.26 billion five-year Strategic Innovation Fund to consolidate and simplify existing business innovation programming, in particular the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, Technology Demonstration Program, Automotive Innovation Fund and Automotive Supplier Innovation Program.

With a single, streamlined Fund, businesses will have access to a simpler application process, more timely processing, and assistance that is more responsive and focused on results.

The Strategic Innovation Fund will attract and support new high-quality business investments—and will continue to be available to aerospace and automotive firms, while also expanding its support to other dynamic and emerging sectors, such as clean technology and agri-food.

To support this program expansion, Budget 2017 proposes to provide a further $200 million over three years, starting in 2017–18, to supplement existing funding. Of this amount, $100 million will be new funding and $100 million will be drawn from the $1 billion announced in Budget 2016 to support clean technology.

In allocating this funding, the Government will look to accelerate areas of economic strength, strengthen and expand the role of Canadian firms in regional and global supply chains, support economic strategies, and attract investment that creates new, good, well-paying jobs. 

What Success Will Look Like

In May 2016, the Government announced $54 million for MDA Systems Ltd. and its partners to collaborate to develop new satellite technologies. It was the first project to be funded under the Government’s Technology Demonstration Program. Federal funding in support of projects like this one achieves the objective of encouraging early-stage research and development and promoting collaborative efforts among firms, universities and research institutions.

Supporting Canadian Innovators Through Venture Capital

Venture capital is a type of private equity financing that takes educated risks on great ideas and smart people, giving young companies the opportunity to take their ideas to market. 

In addition to capital, venture capital fund managers bring operational experience, technical knowledge, networks and mentorship to the firms in which they invest.  

Because of the funding and expertise it provides, a strong and steady stream of venture capital is essential to the success of many Canadian start-ups—and will play a critical role in helping to realize one of the Innovation and Skills Plan’s key objectives: to support the growth of Canadian companies.

To support the continued growth of Canada’s innovative companies, Budget 2017 proposes to make available through the Business Development Bank of Canada $400 million on a cash basis over three years, starting in 2017–18, for a new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative that will increase late-stage venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs (late-stage venture capital is typically offered to young, established businesses with sales and revenue, in order to help the businesses grow).

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

To access the funds, private sector parties will submit proposals to the Government that would be evaluated on the amount of private sector capital already secured; expected benefits for Canadian firms; the proposed approach for risk sharing between the Government and private sector; and the investment strategy, among other considerations.

Following consultation with private sector experts, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development will announce further details on the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative’s application and competitive selection process in the coming months.

The Canadian Business Growth Fund

The private sector is also taking action to support growing firms, with the announcement on March 9, 2017 of the creation of the Canadian Business Growth Fund to provide long-term capital through minority interests in small and medium-sized Canadian enterprises.

The Fund brings together Canada’s leading banks and other key financial institutions, which have jointly committed to invest initially over $500 million, with scope to increase up to $1 billion over 10 years, to support Canada’s promising small and medium-sized firms.

Fund investments will typically range from $3 million to $20 million. This long-term capital will be provided to promising companies, along with guidance, mentorship and access to the investors’ networks, so that the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators can grow their businesses, create good, well-paying jobs for Canadians and lead the way in the new economy.

Helping Women Entrepreneurs Grow Their Businesses and the Economy

A 2015 report from the Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs stated that “the energy and talents of half of Canada’s population is a resource that no economy can afford to squander.” The Government of Canada agrees wholeheartedly.

Women entrepreneurs have been constantly vocal about the tools that are needed to help them succeed. Despite many conversations about helping women grow their businesses, the success rates and growth opportunities for women-led companies do not match their male counterparts.

An ecosystem of support exists; however, there are gaps and an overall lack of awareness and coordination—of the programs available, mentorship opportunities, and the needs of enterprises to maximize their growth potential.

Although progress has been made, it is also clear that women in Canada do not have the same opportunities as men when it comes to representation at senior leadership tables. The February 2017 report from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth highlighted that there is considerable work to be done to break the glass ceiling in Canada:

“The statistics show that Canadian companies are good at hiring women but less effective at advancing them: women make up 46 percent of the country’s labour force but hold less than one-third of all senior management positions. Strikingly, the companies in the Canadian TSX 60 have only one woman CEO among them. The share of seats that women hold on the boards of Canadian stock-index companies has received much attention. In 2014, it was just under 21 percent, a smaller proportion than in many other OECD countries.”

The Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders will be capitalizing on the work of the Expert Panel, Growth Council and other sources of expertise to advise the Government on swift actions to address barriers that affect women serving in senior leadership positions and increase competitiveness for women entrepreneurs.

Supporting the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Driven by boundless creativity and an innate comfort with technology, young entrepreneurs are already leaders in Canada’s economy.

Futurpreneur Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that helps young entrepreneurs by providing them with mentorship, learning resources and start-up financing to help them bring their business ideas to life—and to market. The results are impressive: Futurpreneur Canada’s core program has helped nearly 10,000 young entrepreneurs launch more than 8,000 new businesses over the past two decades. Last year, 40 per cent of the businesses supported by Futurpreneur were owned by women—more than double the national average.

Budget 2017 proposes to provide Futurpreneur Canada with $14 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to continue its important work of supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs. Futurpreneur Canada will match these investments with funding received from other government and private sector partners.

Helping Innovative Companies Grow Through Strategic Procurement

As the single largest purchaser of Canadian goods and services the Government of Canada has a unique opportunity to support the growth of Canadian innovations.

Canadian companies have long asked for the federal government to act as a first customer—to test and validate Canadian technologies in areas of strategic importance to our economy, and to help Canadian businesses to scale up, create new jobs, and find new customers around the world. Gaining early access to innovative products and services also offers benefits for the Government, which is constantly seeking new ways to reduce costs and improve results.

The Procurement Opportunity

“The Council believes that strategic procurement could be used in Canada to support innovation and help small companies scale up and gain the credibility to become integrated in global supply chains ... Done well, strategic procurement also offers the opportunity of better servicing all Canadians, and of improving the efficiency of government by applying new technology and approaches to longstanding problems.”

Advisory Council on Economic Growth, Unlocking Innovation to Drive Scale and Growth, February 6, 2017

Budget 2017 proposes to provide up to $50 million, starting in 2017–18, to launch a new procurement program, Innovative Solutions Canada, modelled on the very successful U.S. Small Business Innovation Research program.  

Under Innovative Solutions Canada, a portion of funding from federal departments and agencies will be allocated towards early-stage research and development, late-stage prototypes and other goods and services from Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs. In return, the Government will have access to the latest, most innovative products and services—a true win-win for citizens and the businesses that employ them.

This program will be designed to be scalable, so that other Canadian jurisdictions can take part in the future, if they wish to do so. To encourage inclusive growth, particular effort will also be made to encourage procurement from companies led by women and other underrepresented groups. All jurisdictions will be encouraged to publicly share the results of this program.

Further details about initial participation and spending targets will follow in the coming months.

What Success Will Look Like

Salima is an entrepreneur with several successful products already developed, tested, produced and on the market. Her latest innovation is a large-scale water filter that makes it easier and more affordable for manufacturers to reuse wastewater.

Under the proposed Innovative Solutions Canada, Salima may be eligible to have her new product purchased, deployed and tested by Environment and Climate Change Canada. With the feedback she receives, Salima can further refine her innovative product, and better market it to other potential customers.

Obtaining the Best Value in Procurement

Procurement undertaken in support of key Government of Canada priorities involves significant sums of money and can often be complex. The Government will renew the Cost and Profit Assurance Program at $3 million per year for two years, starting in 2017–18, in order to provide clarity to businesses and to ensure that procurement continues to be fair and transparent to both Canadian businesses and taxpayers.

In addition, Budget 2017 proposes that legislative amendments be made in order to make procurement and delivery of information technology goods and services to federal organizations more efficient.

Intellectual Property Strategy 2017

Canada’s intellectual property regime provides a framework that supports innovation across all sectors of the economy. Intellectual property rights incentivize creativity and the development of new ideas and technologies by helping companies, academics and inventors recoup their investment once new products reach the marketplace.

In recognition of the importance of a well-functioning intellectual property regime, Budget 2017 announces the Government will develop a new intellectual property strategy over the coming year. The strategy will help ensure that Canada’s intellectual property regime is modern and robust and supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century.

Fundamental Science Review

In 2016, the Government launched an independent review of federal investments in and funding for fundamental science research. 

The review, led by an independent panel of distinguished research leaders and innovators, has involved broad consultations with research communities, industry and civil society to assess the effectiveness of current supports for scientists and scientific research.

In particular, the panel looked at the challenges facing women and other underrepresented groups, and considered ways to make current supports more accessible and inclusive.

Findings from the review will help maintain and strengthen Canada's international standing in fundamental science and ensure that our scientists have the tools, training and support needed to excel globally.

The panel’s report and recommendations will be made public in the coming months.

Strengthening Science in Government

Canada’s world class federal science laboratories and facilities enable scientists to conduct research that promotes evidence-based decision-making. Touching on everything from clean air and water to food security, this research plays a crucial role in protecting and improving the lives of Canadians.

Budget 2017 proposes to elevate the importance of science in government, with the establishment of a Chief Science Advisor and related secretariat. As part of her/his mandate, the Chief Science Advisor will provide advice on how to ensure that government science is open to the public, that federal scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that science is effectively communicated across government.

The Chief Science Advisor will be responsible for providing advice to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science, and will serve primarily in an advisory and coordinating capacity. Budget 2017 proposes to establish an annual budget of $2 million for the Chief Science Advisor and related secretariat.

In addition, over the coming year, the Government will work to develop a new federal science infrastructure strategy. This will include a review of existing investments in federal science infrastructure, including federal laboratories and testing facilities, and provide a roadmap for future investments. The strategy will offer a more integrated and effective approach to federal laboratories, information technology and human resources in the federal science community, and will seek to ensure that federal scientists have the access to the world class infrastructure, innovative equipment and computer networks they need to produce the best results for Canadians.

As part of the Government’s commitment to establishing and maintaining modern federal science infrastructure, Budget 2017 also proposes to provide $80 million on a cash basis over five years, starting in 2017–18, to replace the Sidney Centre for Plant Health, located in Sidney, British Columbia. A new, world class plant health research facility will help support the safety of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector, while facilitating trade and economic growth that benefits all Canadians.

Positioning National Research Council Canada Within the Innovation and Skills Plan

In keeping with the mandate of the new President of the National Research Council, the Government will undertake a review in 2017 to assess how the Council can best support the Innovation and Skills Plan.

The National Research Council has a long track record of success in helping industry take ideas from the research stage through to development and demonstration. Recognizing the National Research Council’s important role in fostering and supporting innovation in Canada, Budget 2017 proposes to renew funding of $59.6 million in 2017–18, to support the Council’s business innovation initiatives. The Council provides research and development services covering areas from aerospace to medical devices, maintains hundreds of partnerships with organizations and engages with thousands of clients. These initiatives include providing technical services, lending scientific expertise, and offering the unique facilities that businesses across Canada need to successfully bring their innovations to market.

As part of the review, the Government will also examine what future role the National Research Council could play in supporting innovation, creating more opportunities for women researchers and innovators, and supporting mission-driven, breakthrough research in collaboration with the new Impact Canada Fund. 

Budget 2017 also proposes the following investments to support innovation and economic growth:

Stem Cell Research

The Stem Cell Network, established in 2001, is a national not-for-profit organization that helps translate stem cell research into clinical applications, commercial products and public policy. Its research holds great promise, offering the potential for new therapies and medical treatments for respiratory and heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, auto-immune disorders and Parkinson’s disease. To support this important work, Budget 2017 proposes to provide the Stem Cell Network with renewed funding of $6 million in 2018–19.

Space Exploration

Canada has a long and proud history as a space-faring nation. As our international partners prepare to chart new missions, Budget 2017 proposes investments that will underscore Canada’s commitment to innovation and leadership in space. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $80.9 million on a cash basis over five years, starting in 2017–18, for new projects through the Canadian Space Agency that will demonstrate and utilize Canadian innovations in space, including in the field of quantum technology as well as for Mars surface observation. The latter project will enable Canada to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) next Mars Orbiter Mission.

Quantum Information

The development of new quantum technologies has the potential to transform markets, create new industries and produce leading-edge jobs. The Institute for Quantum Computing is a world-leading Canadian research facility that furthers our understanding of these innovative technologies. Budget 2017 proposes to provide the Institute with renewed funding of $10 million over two years, starting in 2017–18.

Social Innovation

Through community-college partnerships, the Community and College Social Innovation Fund fosters positive social outcomes, such as the integration of vulnerable populations into Canadian communities. Following the success of this pilot program, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $10 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to continue this work.

International Research Collaborations

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) connects Canadian researchers with collaborative research networks led by eminent Canadian and international researchers on topics that touch all humanity. Past collaborations facilitated by CIFAR are credited with fostering Canada’s leadership in artificial intelligence and deep learning. Budget 2017 proposes to provide renewed and enhanced funding of $35 million over five years, starting in 2017–18.

Attracting International Tourists to Grow Our Economy

Representing almost 2 per cent of Canada’s GDP, tourism directly or indirectly supports more than 1 million jobs in communities all across Canada. The 192,000 businesses that support tourism—the vast majority of which are small and medium-sized businesses—are preparing for a record year in 2017. Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations are expected to draw record numbers of visitors to Canada this year, followed by a year dedicated to Canada-China tourism in 2018.

Canada as a Destination of Choice

“Canada is … a world unto itself, with cosmopolitan cities, barely explored natural wonders and everything in between.”

New York Times


“…with dynamic cities that dominate global livability indices and a reputation for inclusiveness and impeccable politeness, the world’s second-largest country will usher in its sesquicentennial in 2017 in rollicking good health.”

Lonely Planet

To attract more international visitors to Canada, Budget 2017 proposes to make permanent the $37.5 million per year in temporary funding previously provided to Destination Canada, Canada’s national tourism marketing organization, starting in 2018–19. Stabilized funding will allow Destination Canada to continue its strong collaboration with industry partners to maximize the impacts of its marketing campaigns to draw in more tourists from abroad and increase economic activity.

To complement Destination Canada’s activities, Budget 2017 also proposes to provide $8.6 million over four years, starting in 2017–18, to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to support the development of Canada’s unique and authentic Indigenous tourism industry, including contributing to the implementation of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada’s five‑year Indigenous Tourism Strategy.

To ensure that tourism operators and governments make the most of their efforts and investments, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $13.6 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $2.7 million per year thereafter, to Statistics Canada to broaden tourism data collection. The International Travel Survey Program would be enhanced, resulting in better data at more detailed geographic levels, while the Tourism Satellite Account would be expanded to include data at the provincial and territorial level.

Improving Canadian Frameworks for Trade and Investment

The Government is taking a number of additional steps to improve its trade and investment frameworks to support Canadian firms:

Establishing an Invest in Canada Hub. As announced in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, the Government will take the necessary steps to create an Invest in Canada Hub—a new federal body dedicated to attracting leading global firms to Canada to support middle class prosperity by bringing good jobs, fresh capital and new technologies to our economy. More trade commissioners will also be placed in strategic markets abroad to support this investment attraction. The Government has committed $218 million over five years to these efforts.  

The Investment Canada Act. Canada’s legislative frameworks support a safe and stable business environment that can be attractive for global investment. The Investment Canada Act allows for the review of proposed global investments to determine if they are likely to be of economic benefit to Canada, and whether they could be injurious to our national security. To support global investment that is beneficial to Canada, Budget 2017 proposes to amend the Act to increase the net benefit review threshold to $1 billion, two years earlier than planned, and to require the publication of an Annual Report on the administration of the national security provisions. It further proposes $1.25 million for Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for continued operations related to the Investment Canada Act’s National Security Review Program.

An effective trade remedy system. Building on Budget 2016, the Government has been consulting Canadians on additional steps to modernize and strengthen Canada’s trade remedy system, to ensure that Canadian companies are competing on a level playing field with foreign exporters. Informed by these consultations, the Government is moving forward with a package of measures that enhances the effectiveness of the trade remedy system, while also reflecting a balance of interests among economic stakeholders and compliance with international trade rules. Budget 2017 proposes legislative and regulatory amendments to improve enforcement of trade remedy measures, address the circumvention of duties, better account for market and price distortions, and provide unions with the ability to participate in trade remedy proceedings. These steps will provide Canadian producers with a more rigorous response to unfair trade and better align Canada’s trade remedy system with those of our major trading partners.

Advancing regulatory alignment. Regulatory cooperation is a key element in fostering international trade and providing Canadian consumers with greater choice. Past cooperation efforts have led to significant advancements in the areas of agriculture and food, health and consumer products, transport and the environment. Budget 2017 proposes to provide the Treasury Board Secretariat with $6 million over three years to continue its efforts in supporting business growth by promoting regulatory alignment with Canada’s trade partners.  

Supporting Early-Stage Mineral Exploration by Junior Companies

The 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit helps junior exploration companies raise capital to finance “grassroots” mineral exploration away from an existing mine site. It does so by providing an additional incentive to individuals who invest in flow-through shares issued to finance this early-stage exploration (flow-through shares allow resource companies to transfer expenses associated with their Canadian exploration activities to investors, who can deduct the expenses in calculating their own taxable income).

This tax credit is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2017. On March 5, 2017 the Minister of Natural Resources announced that the Government proposes to extend the credit for an additional year, until March 31, 2018.

This measure will help junior exploration companies to raise more equity and is expected to result in a net tax reduction of approximately $30 million over the 2017–18 to 2018–19 period.

Supporting Jobs in the Resource Sector

The Government understands the challenging economic circumstances arising from weak commodity prices affecting the oil and gas sector.

Budget 2017 proposes to provide a one-time payment of $30 million to the Government of Alberta to support provincial actions that will stimulate economic activity and employment in Alberta’s resource sector. This specialized workforce is necessary to generate wealth for Albertan and Canadian citizens now and in the future.

Strengthening Trade Within Canada

As the Government works to strengthen Canada’s economy in an increasingly challenging international environment, the Innovation and Skills Plan aims to do more to grow the next generation of globally competitive Canadian companies. To that end, the Government has worked closely with provincial and territorial governments to negotiate a new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).

The CFTA will bring real benefits to Canadians and their businesses in a wide range of sectors in all 13 provinces and territories. Opportunities will increase for Canadian businesses of all sizes to grow and innovate at home so they are better equipped to compete internationally. It will increase choice and lower costs for consumers, and create jobs in a range of sectors across the country for the middle class. The agreement also establishes a process for future trade liberalization in areas such as interprovincial trade in alcoholic beverages. The CFTA is expected to enter into force in 2017.

The CFTA will benefit Canadians by:

Part 3
Canada’s Innovation Economy: Clean Technology, Digital Industries and Agri-Food

The Innovation and Skills Plan is an ambitious effort to make Canada a world leader in innovation, with a focus on expanding growth and creating good, well-paying jobs in six key areas: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources.

Initial efforts will centre on three industries that touch the lives of all Canadians and offer great potential for growth and job creation: clean technology, digital industries and agri-food.

According to Analytica Advisors, the global market for clean technology (cleantech) has surpassed $1 trillion per year and will continue to grow over the next decade. As the world increasingly seeks out more sustainable and renewable sources of energy, and new technologies to improve the quality of air and water, Canadian companies can lead the way. Our clean technology companies are well-positioned to compete and win in this large and growing global market.

At the same time, the global economy is becoming increasingly digital. All industries, from manufacturing to agriculture to finance, are embracing digital technology to grow their businesses and improve the lives of the people they serve. From “smart homes” to the promise of self-driving cars, digital technology is reshaping the world we live in. It’s a world in which Canada has a real and serious chance to lead.

Around the world, the demand for food is expected to continue to grow. In Asia, where some three billion people are expected to join the middle class over the next two decades, demand is changing, with consumers seeking out more high-quality foods and more protein. As the world’s fifth largest agri-food exporter—with a strong reputation for safe, high-quality products—and key trade agreements in markets accounting for 55 per cent of global GDP, Canada is in a uniquely strong position to capitalize on global agri-food growth.

Canada’s Clean Technology Advantage

The global campaign against climate change is an economic opportunity for Canada. The world is undeniably moving towards cleaner technologies, ones that use renewable and sustainable sources of energy, emit less pollution and use fewer resources. 

When it comes to clean technology, Canada has the opportunity to be a true global leader—creating good jobs for Canadians while helping to meet our climate change goals.

In Budget 2016, the Government committed to invest more than $1 billion over four years to support clean technology, including in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture sectors. 

In Budget 2017, the Government expands on that commitment by taking action to boost the growth of Canada’s clean technology sector, with the aim of fostering the growth of Canadian technologies and companies. 

To that end, Budget 2017 proposes measures that will:

Through its participation in Mission Innovation, Canada has committed to double its investments in clean energy research, development and demonstration over the next five years. The investments announced in Budget 2017 support this commitment, and will help Canada to reduce carbon pollution while creating good, well-paying jobs in communities all across Canada.

Canada’s Participation in Mission Innovation

In November 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau announced Canada’s participation in Mission Innovation, a global initiative of countries working together to accelerate clean energy innovation. As part of this initiative, countries agreed to double their national investments in clean energy innovation over five years, while encouraging greater levels of private sector investment in transformative clean energy technologies. The Government of Canada has made a commitment under Mission Innovation to double its 2014–15 baseline expenditures of $387 million for clean energy and clean technology research, development and demonstration by 2020. Budget 2017 proposes a number of measures, including in the areas of green infrastructure and clean technology, that will help to meet this commitment while generating more good, well-paying jobs in the clean growth economy.

Access to Financing for Cleantech Firms

Financing fuels the growth of companies. It provides the capital needed to hire new staff, develop products, and support sales both at home and internationally.

Budget 2017 proposes to increase financing support for Canada’s clean technology sector by making available more equity finance, working capital and project finance to promising clean technology firms. Nearly $1.4 billion in new financing, on a cash basis, will be made available to help Canada’s clean technology firms grow and expand.

CanadaCleantech Alliance on Clean Technology Financing Challenges:

“Deployment of cleantech solutions is often capital-intensive, requiring large sums of project debt to achieve even a single deployment. Canadian commercial banks and other lenders are risk averse and unwilling to finance these industrial-scale projects because the technology has yet to be fully commercially proven (i.e., pre-profit stage). This inability to take on technology risk for major capital projects is a significant barrier to commercialization and a competitive disadvantage for Canadian cleantech companies.”

CanadaCleantech Alliance, representing hundreds of clean technology companies, in its submission to the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs

This new financing will be available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), further expanding their business growth and export financing support to Canadian clean technology companies and building on their client-centred collaboration in this sector. This new financing will be used alongside other private sources of financing to increase the amount of capital available to Canada’s clean technology firms as they grow their businesses and create more good, well-paying jobs for all Canadians.

Specifically, Budget 2017 proposes:

Promoting the Demonstration of Clean Technologies

The SD Tech Fund™ supports the development and pre-commercial demonstration of clean technologies. As the flagship program of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), it is leading the way in bringing clean technology to market.

Since its launch in 2001, SDTC has invested $928 million in 320 clean technology projects, and leveraged more than $2.45 billion from other project partners, with more than 80 per cent of investments coming from the private sector. Collectively, these investments have created more than 9,200 jobs and are responsible for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 6.3 megatonnes per year.

Building on these investments, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $400 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to recapitalize the SD Tech Fund™. This funding will support projects across Canada to develop and demonstrate new clean technologies that promote sustainable development, including those that address environmental issues such as climate change, air quality, clean water and clean soil.

Success Story: Cooledge Lighting

Cooledge, headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia, has developed a portfolio of luminous surfaces products featuring lighting technologies that can be integrated into all forms and scale of the built environment. By enabling illumination from large architectural surfaces such as ceilings, walls and facades instead of light points, the company provides its customers with more flexibility and creativity while maximizing energy efficiency through low power consumption and minimum heat generation.  

In 2011, Sustainable Development Technology Canada initiated a project with Cooledge, providing $4.46 million in funding over five years to develop and demonstrate this light sheet technology. As a result of this funding, the company demonstrated a three-fold environmental benefit over fluorescent, incandescent and LED light bulbs, including increasing energy efficiency, eliminating heat sink in fixture design and avoiding an end-of-life mercury disposal requirement. 

Building on the initial project funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, EDC and BDC have supported the growth of Cooledge through its early commercialization with investments since 2013 and 2014, respectively, and through EDC’s bonding support since 2015 and financing support since 2016. 

Investing in Research and Development for Clean Energy and Transportation

Clean energy and transportation research and development (R&D) maintains economic competitiveness and contributes to lower-cost emissions reductions in the energy and transportation sectors. The Government proposes to provide $229 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, to Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada to continue R&D activities through their core clean energy and clean transportation innovation programming.

Encouraging Clean Technology in the Natural Resources Sectors

To support clean technology research, and the development, demonstration and adoption of clean technology in Canada’s natural resources sectors, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $200 million over four years, starting in 2017–18, to Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Technologies at varying stages of maturity will be eligible, and eligible recipients will include industry, academia, federal laboratories and other research organizations.

Expanding Tax Support for Clean Energy

Canada’s income tax system encourages businesses to invest in clean energy generation and energy efficiency equipment by allowing them to deduct the cost of eligible capital assets on an accelerated basis.

Geothermal energy is one renewable energy source with the potential to reliably meet a portion of Canada's heating and electricity generation needs, including in northern and remote communities, where reliance on fossil fuels remains high. To encourage greater use of geothermal energy, Budget 2017 proposes to:

Capitalizing on International Business Development for Clean Technology

Canada’s clean technology companies are a true success story, but their future growth and success rely on their ability to access and serve international clients. Global Affairs Canada can support clean technology firms by connecting entrepreneurs with international networks, and educating them on business supports provided by the Government of Canada. To better support international business development, a clean technology strategy will be developed, to support Canadian firms in becoming world leaders in clean technology and capitalize on growing global market opportunities while continuing to deliver clean economic growth and create good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $15 million over four years, starting in 2017–18, for Global Affairs Canada to implement this strategy.

Establishing a Clean Technology Data Strategy and the Clean Growth Hub

To foster innovation, improve knowledge in the private sector and stakeholder communities, and help inform future government decision-making, the Government intends to establish a Clean Technology Data Strategy. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $14.5 million over four years, starting in 2017–18, to Natural Resources Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for the creation of this strategy.

The Government will also streamline client services, improve federal program coordination, enable tracking and reporting on clean technology results across government, and connect stakeholders to international markets. To this end, the Government will provide $12 million over four years, starting in 2017–18, to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Natural Resources Canada to establish a Clean Growth Hub within the new Innovation Canada single-window service.

Accelerating the Growth of High-Impact Firms

Budget 2017 reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the vision and mandate of the Accelerated Growth Service (AGS), a national project created to coordinate support for businesses across a number of federal departments and agencies. To date, this initiative has helped 142 high-impact firms to scale up and grow their businesses, with a broader goal of helping 1,000 firms expand and create more good, well-paying jobs. To improve delivery of this service, the Government is currently exploring ways to better share information among federal organizations and may propose legislative amendments if necessary. 

Here is one success story:

Terramera Reaches Out to Global Markets

Clean technology firm Terramera Inc. (Vancouver, British Columbia) specializes in replacing conventional chemical pesticides with high-performance plant-based products for use in agriculture, in pest control and by consumers. Terramera joined the AGS pilot project in May 2016.

Terramera’s goal is to increase sales and grow into a billion-dollar business by scaling production, strengthening its customer base and finding new customers around the world. The company faced challenges when trying to reach out beyond Canada for new business. Regulatory approvals in new markets—in particular, in Japan, Mexico, India and Europe—will be key to the company’s future growth. To help Terramera secure these approvals, AGS partners have provided it with assistance in securing capital and financing, as well as with hiring, intellectual property and research and development, domestic regulatory approvals and export growth.

Thanks to the AGS support, Terramera has been successful in leveraging the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service network in Canada and abroad to support its export market development and expansion initiatives. In July 2016, it was able to secure new Japanese investment, and the company has also secured a direct equity investment from IKEA in Sweden.

Through National Research Council Canada, the company was able to explore opportunities under the EUREKA program, an international network for market-driven industrial research and development that includes over 40 economies from the European Union, Europe, Israel, South Korea, and now Canada. Terramera was also able to secure financing support from the Business Development Bank of Canada and Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Canada’s Digital Future

The world is increasingly connected—it is expected that by 2021 over 4.5 billion people will have access to the Internet. This is just one of the effects of a worldwide shift toward a new digital reality, one that by 2020 includes over 25 billion devices embedded with Internet-based systems, sees a million minutes of video content cross the network every second, and delivers an estimated $6.6 trillion in economic opportunities each year in the G20.

For Canadians, this digital shift is all around us. Many already live in “smart homes” where lighting, temperature, security and appliances are interconnected, and the promise of self-driving cars grows closer every day.

In our communities, Internet-connected devices help to shape our daily commutes, with “smart” traffic lights that measure and adapt timing to improve traffic flows. In connected cities, electricity is now distributed across dispersed energy storage systems, sending energy derived from remote solar, wind and geothermal generating stations to wherever power is needed. Underground, connected sewer systems will detect leaks and monitor real-time water flow, and on our roads and highways, our transportation systems will show real-time information on rail traffic, transport capacity and port loading times, making supply chains faster and more reliable.

At the same time, these world-changing opportunities present challenges for Canada’s middle class and those working hard to join it. As more and more industries embrace the digital future, Canadian workers will need new tools and new skills in order to stay competitive.

Some Canadians also face barriers to full participation in the digital economy. Addressing these digital divides means ensuring all Canadians have the digital skills and opportunities to participate online. Budget 2017 is making important investments to address these challenges, including through affordable Internet, skills training for older workers, coding education for kids and improved online accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

To help Canadian companies succeed in this new world, the Government is placing a priority on providing support to Canada’s digital innovation.

Investments made in Budget 2016 and Budget 2017 set the stage for a new plan for Canada’s digital future, one that will:

Work is already underway to make this digital future a reality.

Canada as an Advanced Digital Environment

To accelerate the development of more “smart cities” where people and places are better connected, where machine-to-machine communication helps to ease traffic congestion and protect water systems, and where communities are better able to prepare for future challenges, the Government proposes to launch the Smart Cities Challenge initiative in partnership with the Impact Canada Fund (see the section “Innovating to Solve Canada’s Big Challenges” in this chapter).

Because people need new skills and tools in order to succeed in a new digital world, the Government is also investing to help Canadians of all ages navigate new opportunities, such as teaching kids digital skills, Mitacs’ work-integrated learning programs and enhanced access to Canada Student Loans and Grants.

Additional investments to support the creation of superclusters, attract and support new high-quality business investments (via the Strategic Innovation Fund), and support innovative businesses with venture capital will help to secure Canada’s future as a digital leader. 

Growing Canada’s Advantage in Artificial Intelligence

From smartphone applications that can understand human speech to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is changing the way that people interact with each other and our world. It has the potential to drive strong economic growth, by improving the way we produce goods, deliver services and tackle challenges like climate change. Artificial intelligence opens up possibilities across many sectors, from agriculture to financial services, creating opportunities for companies of all sizes, whether technology start-ups or Canada’s largest financial institutions.

Strong public support for research programs and world class expertise at Canadian universities has helped propel Canada to a position as leader in artificial intelligence and deep learning research and use. Canadian talent and ideas are in high demand around the world—but activity needs to remain in Canada to harness the benefits from artificial intelligence.

To retain and attract top academic talent, and to increase the number of post-graduate trainees and researchers studying artificial intelligence and deep learning, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy for research and talent. The Strategy will promote collaboration between Canada’s main centres of expertise in Montréal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton and position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation. Expanding the pipeline of Canadian talent for artificial intelligence will benefit businesses that wish to develop and submit a proposal for an artificial intelligence supercluster.

A leader in the area of artificial intelligence, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) will be responsible for administering the funding for the new Strategy.

Canada a Pioneer in Deep Learning in Machines and Brains

CIFAR’s Learning in Machines & Brains program has shaken up the field of artificial intelligence by pioneering a technique called “deep learning,” a computer technique inspired by the human brain and neural networks, which is now routinely used by the likes of Google and Facebook. The program brings together computer scientists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists and others, and the result is rich collaborations that have propelled artificial intelligence research forward. The program is co-directed by one of Canada’s foremost experts in artificial intelligence, the Université de Montréal’s Yoshua Bengio, and for his many contributions to the program, the University of Toronto’s Geoffrey Hinton, another Canadian leader in this field, was awarded the title of Distinguished Fellow by CIFAR in 2014.

Supporting Innovation in Financial Services

When it comes to managing their money, Canadians are increasingly using digital products and services, including mobile payments, lending, insurance and securities. Financial technology firms (“fintechs”) are at the forefront of digital innovation. These firms, along with Canadian banks, insurers and credit unions, are innovating to make financial services more accessible, more useful and more affordable. The Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan will help fintech entrepreneurs realize their full growth potential by bringing together high-skilled talent, financing solutions, business advisory services and export support. To support greater financial innovation, the Government and federal regulatory agencies are committed to working with provincial and territorial regulatory authorities to better coordinate and share information.

To promote a well-functioning payments system that fosters innovation and better protects consumers, the Government will also release a consultation paper on a new retail payments oversight framework. This paper will be released in 2017. Based on the results of its consultations, the Government will propose legislation to implement the oversight framework.

The Government is also committed to working with stakeholders to assess developments in the fintech sector, and consider the implications for the federal financial sector legislative and regulatory framework. This process will culminate in the Review of the Federal Financial Sector Framework.

Canadian Digital Services

The Government has an opportunity—and a responsibility—to lead the way when it comes to digital innovation to support more widespread adoption of digital tools, and to better serve Canadians.

Informed by similar initiatives in the U.S. (the U.S. Digital Service/18F) and the United Kingdom (the Government Digital Service), the Government will adopt new ways of serving Canadians. Better use of digital technologies could improve the ways in which businesses can access government services, speed up immigration processing times through better-integrated information, or make it easier for Canadians to access benefits or tax information online.

Some work already underway that could be further advanced by the Government to support better digital services to Canadians includes: 

High-Speed Internet for All Canadians, No Matter Where They Live

In Budget 2016, the Government committed to invest $500 million to bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities in Canada. A new program, Connect to Innovate, is focused on investing in backbone networks—the digital highways that carry traffic between communities—with support also available for last-mile applications. The program’s competitive application process is open until April 20, 2017.

In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also updated its standards for minimum Internet speeds, and announced recommended measures to achieve its ambitious goal.

The Government is committed to working with the CRTC to coordinate targets and to establish effective ways to meet them. 

A Real Opportunity to Be Part of the Digital Economy

Technological change brings with it tremendous opportunities but not every Canadian is able to access the benefits that are part of an evolving digital world.

To make sure that all Canadians can be full participants in the digital economy and experience its benefits first-hand, the Government is investing in programs to better help underserved Canadians.

These investments include making home Internet access more affordable for low-income families, helping working adults upgrade their skills, and investing in the development of new assistive technologies to help Canadians living with disabilities.

An Open, Transparent and Innovative Internet

Over the past year, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has consulted with Canadians on the future of the Internet, the future of news media, and the role of Canadian content in an increasingly digital world.

For its part, the Government believes in an open and transparent Internet environment that emphasizes freedom—freedom to innovate, freedom to connect with others, and freedom of discussion. 

This is a future that must include Canada’s creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders, who are essential to building an inclusive and innovative Canada. From advertising and design to television and film to fashion and publishing, Canada’s creative industries are facing rapid and disruptive change, including the shift to online technologies, the push for new business models, and increased competition due to globalization. Along with these risks comes the opportunity for Canada—and its creative sector—to lead the way in creating new experiences, new technologies, and new, well-paying jobs for Canadians.

Over the next year, the Government will outline a new approach to growing Canada’s creative sector—one that is focused on the future, and on bringing the best of Canada to the world, rather than a protectionist stance that restricts growth and limits opportunities. 

The Government also recognizes that Canada’s media industries, and the systems that allow for broadcasting, distribution and the exchange of ideas, are fundamentally changing in the digital age.

To ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from an open and innovative Internet, the Government proposes to review and modernize the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act.

In this review, the Government will look to examine issues such as telecommunications and content creation in the digital age, net neutrality and cultural diversity, and how to strengthen the future of Canadian media and Canadian content creation. Further details on the review will be announced in the coming months.

Growing the Economy Through Agri-Food Innovation

Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector is an important driver of economic growth, accounting for more than 6 per cent of Canada’s GDP, and employing one out of every eight Canadians. The Advisory Council on Economic Growth recently highlighted this sector’s potential for growth, citing Canada’s natural endowment of water and arable land, research strengths and accomplishments, and strong network of entrepreneurs. 

The Council also pointed to the significant opportunity that increasing international demand for food and an expanding global middle class should create for Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. The recent launch of the “Canada Pavilion” on the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba is one example of the ways Canadian agri-food companies are showcasing the quality of Canadian products and taking advantage of emerging market opportunities.

It is for this reason that the Innovation and Skills Plan has set an ambitious target to grow Canada’s agri-food exports to at least $75 billion annually by 2025. In recent years, industry growth has been strong, with farm revenues, annual exports and farm incomes all reaching record highs. Despite this strong performance, there is still room for further growth—growth that can be achieved through innovation and the development of value-added products.  

In addition to specific investments made to support the growth of and innovation in Canada’s agri-food sector, the Government has undertaken efforts to support Canada’s farmers and food processors, including:

Developing the Next Agricultural Policy Framework

The next agricultural policy framework will be launched in 2018 where federal, provincial and territorial governments will renew their commitments to investing in this critical sector. As part of the development of the next framework, governments will consider the ways in which innovation in agriculture can help strengthen the sector as a whole, enhance our value-added exports and create more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians.

The current framework, Growing Forward 2 (2013–18), includes average federal-provincial-territorial spending of over $600 million per year for programming to support innovation, competitiveness and market development. The framework also includes a comprehensive suite of business risk management programs to help farmers manage risks associated with severe market volatility and disaster situations, with average spending of approximately $2 billion per year. 

Since January 2016, federal, provincial and territorial governments have consulted with Canadians, including stakeholders across the agriculture and agri-food value chain, to support the development of the next framework. This process assists in identifying and addressing barriers to growth and in determining how best Canada should target investments to achieve long-term, sustainable growth for the sector.

Further details of the next agricultural policy framework will be announced over the coming year.

Advancing Agricultural Science and Innovation

Budget 2016 invested $30 million over six years to support advanced research in agricultural science and genomics at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Budget 2017 builds on this funding by proposing to invest $70 million over six years, starting in 2017–18, to further support agricultural discovery science and innovation, with a focus on addressing emerging priorities, such as climate change and soil and water conservation.

In addition, as part of the $200 million provided for the Clean Growth in the Natural Resources program, Budget 2017 proposes to provide funding to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to support the expanded adoption of clean technology by Canadian agricultural producers.

Table 1.3
Skills, Innovation and Middle Class Jobs
millions of dollars
  2016–2017   2017–2018   2018–2019   2019–2020   2020–2021   2021–2022   Total
Equipping Canadians With the Skills They Need to Get Good Jobs              
  Helping Canadians Get New and Better Jobs 0 200 300 400 550 625 2,075
  Helping Working Adults Upgrade Their Skills 0 0 93 151 164 46 454
  Encouraging Unemployed Canadians to Seek New Training Through Employment Insurance 0 0 22 36 37 38 132
  Investing in Skills Innovation 0 0 25 50 75 75 225
  Expanding the Youth Employment Strategy 0 150 150 96 0 0 396
  A New, Ambitious Approach to Work-Integrated Learning 0 12 36 45 48 80 221
  Renewing Investments in Pathways to Education Canada 0 0 10 10 10 10 38
  Improving Access to the Canada Learning Bond 0 1 2 3 3 3 11
  Expanding Employment Insurance Benefits to Offer More Flexibility for Families 0 108 188 190 196 205 886
  Improving Benefit Delivery 0 12 0 0 0 0 12
  Modernizing the Canada Labour Code 0 2 3 3 3 2 13
  Post-Secondary Student Support Program 0 45 45 0 0 0 90
  Indspire 0 5 5 5 5 5 25
  Supporting Access to Skills Development and Training for Indigenous Peoples 0 50 0 0 0 0 50
  Reducing Employment Barriers for First Nations Youth Living On-Reserve 0 39 0 0 0 0 39
  Investing in Adult Basic Education in the North 0 5 5 5 0 0 15
  Global Skills Strategy 0 4 4 0 0 0 8
  Attracting Talent to Strenghten University Research 0 4 17 17 17 17 71
  Improving the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program 0 82 56 56 56 56 304
  Recognizing Foreign Credentials 0 6 6 6 6 6 28
  Teaching Kids to Code 0 20 30 0 0 0 50
  Expanding Digital Learning Opportunities 0 1 5 8 8 8 30
  Developing Assistive Technology 0 2 4 5 5 6 22
  Making Home Internet Access More Affordable for Low-Income Families 0 3 5 6 3 2 18
  Promoting STEM to Young Canadians 0 4 3 2 2 2 12
  Subtotal—Equipping Canadians With the Skills They Need to Get Good Jobs 0 753 1,013 1,090 1,185 1,184 5,225
A Nation of Innovators              
  Accelerating Innovation Through Superclusters 0 50 250 250 250 150 950
  Innovating to Solve Canada's Big Challenges 0 37 42 2 2 2 83
  The New Strategic Innovation Fund: A Simpler, More Flexible Tool to Grow Canada’s Economy 0 50 100 50 0 0 200
  Supporting Canadian Innovators Through Venture Capital 0 3 10 14 6 -7 26
  Supporting the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs 0 7 7 0 0 0 14
  Helping Innovative Companies Grow Through Strategic Procurement 0 10 10 10 10 10 50
  Obtaining the Best Value in Procurement 0 3 3 0 0 0 6
  Strenghtening Science in Government 0 2 2 4 4 4 16
  Positioning National Research Council Canada Within the Innovation and Skills Plan 0 60 0 0 0 0 60
  Stem Cell Research 0 0 6 0 0 0 6
  Space Exploration 0 2 0 0 0 11 12
  Quantum Information 0 5 5 0 0 0 10
  Social Innovation 0 5 5 0 0 0 10
  International Research Collaborations 0 7 7 7 7 7 35
  Attracting International Tourists to Grow Our Economy 0 5 42 42 43 40 172
  The Investment Canada Act 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
  Advancing Regulatory Alignment 0 2 2 2 0 0 6
  Supporting Early-Stage Mineral Exploration by Junior Companies 0 45 -15 0 0 0 30
  Supporting Jobs in the Resource Sector 0 30 0 0 0 0 30
  Subtotal—A Nation of Innovators 0 323 475 381 321 216 1,717
Canada’s Innovation Economy: Clean Technology, Digital Industries and Agri-Food              
  Access to Financing for Cleantech Firms 0 51 51 51 26 26 207
  Promoting the Demonstration of Clean Technologies 0 25 70 90 90 125 400
  Investing in Research and Development for Clean Energy and Transportation 0 0 57 57 57 57 229
  Encouraging Clean Technology in the Natural Resources Sectors 0 13 65 66 56 0 200
  Expanding Tax Support for Clean Energy 0 2 3 2 1 1 9
  Capitalizing on International Business Development for Clean Technology 0 3 4 4 4 0 15
  Establishing a Clean Technology Data Strategy and the Clean Growth Hub 0 6 6 7 7 0 27
  Growing Canada's Advantage in Artificial Intelligence 125 0 0 0 0 0 125
  Advancing Agricultural Science and Innovation 0 4 9 16 16 15 60
  Subtotal—Canada's Innovation Economy: Clean Technology, Digital Industries and Agri-Food 125 104 266 294 257 225 1,271
Total—Chapter 1: Skills, Innovation and Middle Class Jobs 125 1,180 1,754 1,766 1,764 1,625 8,213
    Less funds existing in the fiscal framework 0 -547 -706 -677 -639 -197 -2,766
    Less projected revenues 0 -107 -299 -305 -316 -329 -1,356
    Less funds sourced from departmental resources 0 -38 -14 -14 -14 -14 -94
Net Fiscal Cost 125 487 736 770 794 1,086 3,997
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.
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