Canada's S&T community writ large could use some good news in next week's Budget. The recent release of the Main Estimates shows that most departments and agencies are set to experience stagnation or declines in their funding next year, with the exception of the Canadian Space Agency.
While the dramatic declines in the budgets of the regional development agencies are due to the end of stimulus funding, static granting council budgets and an 8% funding drop for the National Research Council are worrisome.
Ironically, federal ministers have been criss-crossing the countries holding events to re-announce or celebrate previous S&T funding — more likely an indication of a pending election than building anticipation of more to come.
The introduction of new measures to support the new Digital Economy Strategy would certainly be welcome. S&T organizations such as CANARIE and Precarn have been aligning themselves with this initiative, which has been enthusiastically embraced by many sectors. The strategy should be launched with great fanfare to leverage that enthusiasm.
Other areas such as the massive R&D tax credit program and initiatives geared to support for business will likely have to wait another year until the work of the R&D Review panel is complete.
Canada's S&T enterprise could use with re-alignment and more money isn't necessarily the answer to improving Canada's productivity and prosperity. But realistic and appropriate levels of support are the least this government can do to demonstrate its commitment.