By: Maksim Chitov
With the Fall parliamentary session just around the corner, our government is expected to reconvene in the House of Commons in mid-September after a two-month break. The Liberal government is nearing the halfway point of their mandate, and thus September yields a perfect opportunity to look back at what has been done so far, subsequently charting the course for policymaking in the coming months and leading up to the 2019 General Election.
Since the budget passed the Senate in late-June, many of the proposed initiatives (including funding programs) are being rolled out. Skills training and innovation was a primary focus of Budget 2017, with particular emphasis on three key sectors – clean technology, digital and agri-food – to be supported with hefty economic investments. MPs in Ottawa will need to ensure that demand in the labour market is matched with a supply of skilled graduates and post-secondary students, who must in turn have access to a hands-on, innovative work environment.
Surely enough, on Aug. 28 Patty Hajdu (Minister of Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour) announced that the government will help to create 60,000 new work placements over the next five years. Hajdu made the announcement at an event hosted by BioTalent Canada, the administrative partner for many wage subsidy programs in recent years. The multi-million-dollar investment has thus far manifested itself in new programs like the Student Work-Integrated Learning Program (up to $7,000 per placement) and the Science Horizons Program (up to $15,000 per placement) administered by BioTalent Canada. BioTalent itself notes that 33 percent of companies in the biotechnology sector report skills shortages, with the new government funding expected to help fill this void.
Parliamentary efforts in the previous session have also resulted in the brand-new Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), a massive investment of $1.26-billion into four specific categories of innovation activities for businesses:
- R&D and commercialization of new products and services
- Growth and expansion of high-potential companies
- Attraction of new investments to Canada, resulting in business opportunities and new jobs for Canadians
- Public-private collaborations in new technology development
The SIF consolidates four old funding programs, which are now obsolete, and boasts flexibility in accommodating various sectors of the economy by a single program. The fund itself is aligned with the priorities set out in Budget 2017 and under the auspices of the Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a strategy which will continue into the coming years.
At the fall session MPs are expected to review how the SIF and other funding programs have performed thus far, the performance of which will, naturally, be the subject of much debate in the House. With the Liberal mandate at midway and a series of leadership changes in other parties, the coming year leading up to the 2019 Election should be an interesting one to monitor. And if the government sticks to its plan and retains its Budget ‘17 priorities, we will continue to see a series of targeted investments to benefit Canadian businesses.
The budget changes initiated by the Liberals have resulted in modifications and adjustments to existing grant and subsidy programs. Keep your eye out for more updates from Granted on these changes and how they may impact your business’ grant opportunities in the coming months!