Prioritizing work-integrated learning, entrepreneurial skills-development, and student success will help build an inclusive labour force for the digital economy. On this front, Budget 2021 proposes to:
- Develop an enterprise-wide digital platform to process immigration applications and amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to give the Minister more authority over choosing skilled candidates.
- Increase financial support for students and earmark $721M to help students find jobs through programs like the Student Work Placement Program, Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, and Canada Summer Jobs program.
- Support almost 585,000 new training and work opportunities for Canadians through ten proposed measures, including a number of programs led by ESDC, ISED, and Mitacs.
- Conduct public consultations on EI reform and make legislative changes to better support and protect self-employed workers and gig-economy workers.
- Establish a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan—worth $30B over 5 years and $8.3B ongoing—with additional funding for programs that tailor to the needs of children with disabilities; Indigenous families.
- Support Northern and Indigenous post-secondary education by supporting the transformation of Aurora College to a polytechnic university; and providing funding to support Indigenous students.
- Provide $364M in funding to various entrepreneurship programs, including specific programs for women entrepreneurs, Black entrepreneurs, and Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Investments in technology adoption, digital infrastructure, R&D, and IP expertise can help Canadian businesses succeed. With this in mind, Budget 2021 proposes to:
- Establish a Canada Digital Adoption Program to help up to 16,000 SMEs adopt new digital technologies; and provide $2.6B to the Business Development Bank of Canada to help SMEs finance tech adoption.
- Provide $1B over 6 years to the Universal Broadband Fund to support and speed up broadband projects.
- Provide an additional $7.2bn over 7 years for the Strategic Innovation Fund; and an additional $60M to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative to stimulate commercial activity.
- Establish programs (e.g., ElevateIP, IRAP, etc.) that help Canadian startups and SMEs access expert IP services.
- Continue work at the Standards Council of Canada on industry-wide data governance standards.
- Establish a Data Commissioner to inform government and business on data-driven issues, protect personal data, and encourage innovation in the digital marketplace.
- Create new capital and revenue opportunities for digital economy businesses using strategic public procurement and programs like the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative
- Implement tax changes, including a new three percent Digital Services Tax and other amendments to the Income Tax Act, to even the playing field for Canadian businesses.
- Ramp up technology-specific strategies by providing an additional $443.8M in funding over 10 years to the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy; establishing a new Pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy (worth $400M over 6 years); and creating a new National Quantum Strategy (worth $360M over 7 years).
- Support private sector R&D (and academic-private sector R&D partnerships) through NSERC and NRC funding programs.
Growing the net-zero economy through Canada’s clean energy and clean tech industries is a core focus of Budget 2021, including proposals to:
- Publish an official green bond framework to precede the government’s first federal green bond (to be established in 2021-22 with an issuance target of $5B).
- Providing $5B over 7 years to the Net Zero Accelerator for projects that will help reduce GHGs across Canada’s economy.
Support Canada’s clean tech industry by:
- Making $1b available on a cash basis over 5 years to help draw in private sector investment in large-scale clean tech projects;
- Implementing changes to tax policy to incentivize private sector investment in things like clean energy and carbon capture technology.
- Establish the Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy to advance the scale-up and commercialization of clean tech; and provide additional funding to GAC for the International Business Development Strategy for Clean Technology.
Improve Canada’s position on zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by:
- Providing new funding ($46.4M) to the NRC to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise in Canada; and
- Providing new funding ($56.1M over 5 years) to Measurement Canada to develop and implement standards for ZEV charging and fueling stations.
Improve Canada’s position on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) tech by:
- Providing new funding ($319M over 7 years) to the NRC to support relevant R&D and commercialization activity; and
- Establishing a new investment tax credit for capital invested in CCUS projects.
Improve Canada’s position on clean/low-carbon fuel by providing:
- $1.5B over 5 years to NRC to establish a Clean Fuels Fund to support the production and distribution of low-carbon/zero-emission fuels;
- $227.9M over 8 years to TBS to implement a Low-Carbon Fuel Procurement Program;
- $67.4M over 7 years to Measurement Canada to ensure that commercial transactions of low-carbon fuels are measured accurately; and $67.2M over 7 years to EEEC to implement and administer the Clean Fuel Standard.
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- Mairead Matthews