How are Canada’s political parties promising to support research and innovation?

Guest Contributor
September 8, 2021

Critical issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and economic sustainability have elevated the importance of research and innovation for many political parties in this current federal election campaign. Throughout this campaign, Research Money will be compiling and updating a list of the commitments from each party as their platforms are released. Our reporters will also continue to provide comprehensive coverage of each of the party’s innovation platforms and the policy debates surrounding them.

Below is a summary of the pledges made to date when it comes to supporting Canada’s research and innovation ecosystem.

 Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal 2021 Platform includes the following commitments:

  • Establish the Canada Advanced Research Projects Agency (CARPA), based on the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA), as a "public-private bridge" to develop Canadian technologies.
  • Establish a $75-million fund per year to assist colleges and universities with research commercialization.
  • Establish a $100 million a year fund to go towards research into potential vaccines for high-impact diseases.
  • Add 1,000 new Canada Research Chairs.
  • Reform the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program (SR&ED) to "reduce red tape and the need for consultants."
  • Create a Low-Carbon Building Materials Innovation Hub.
  • Establish a $2-billion Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador to support economic diversification.
  • Launch a Clean Jobs Training Centre.
  • Invest $100 billion to fight climate change (with $53.6 billion going towards a green recovery).
  • Invest an extra $1.75 billion in the aerospace sector through the Net Zero Accelerator.
  • Invest in sustainable building material innovation in forestry through the Forestry Industry Transformation Program.
  • Invest $700 million to add 50,000 electric vehicle chargers and hydrogen stations across Canada.
  • Introduce an investment tax credit of up to 30 percent for clean technologies and "triple" the funding for clean technology on farms.
  • "Move forward" with the investments they've already announced in the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the National Quantum Strategy, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the National Research Council’s Photonics Fabrication Centre.

Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative 2021 Platform includes the following commitments:

  • Establish the Calgary-headquartered Canada Advanced Research Agency, modelled after the US Defence Advanced Research Program Agency, which would invest $5 billion over the next five years in priority areas: carbon capture and storage, hydrogen fuel, small modular reactors, electric vehicle development, the space sector, and pharmaceutical research and production.
  • Review all of Canada’s R&D programs to ensure benefits accrue to Canadian innovators and workers rather than foreign multinationals.
  • Move the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) program from Canada Revenue Agency to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, simplify the application process, and make it easier for software development to qualify.
  • Cut the income tax rate in half for new patented technologies developed in Canada.
  • Introduce flow-through shares to make investing in small tech startups more attractive.
  • Exempt Canadian-controlled startups headquartered and with at least two-thirds of their employees in Canada from the current plan to tax stock options.
  • Introduce a “patent box” regime to cut the tax rate in half on income earned from patents on innovative products developed here.
  • Cover up to $10,000 of the administrative and legal costs of each of the first five patents filed by any Canadian small or medium-sized business.
  • Create a tax credit for buying from a Canadian startup.
  • Direct the Canadian government to buy from innovative Canadian startups.
  • Reform the “net benefits” test to better account for the potential effects of a transaction on the broader innovation ecosystem.
  • Implement a food security strategy which would include redirecting some federal agricultural research funding to partnering with the private sector to grow more greenhouse crops.
  • Strengthen Canada’s vaccine research, trials and manufacturing capacity; e.g., by putting in place a sector strategy to grow the pharmaceutical sector, and reviewing regulations that it says “drive pharmaceutical companies out of Canada”.
  • Overhaul Canada’s Pandemic Plan to include domestic vaccine research, trials development and manufacturing capacity and readiness.
  • Develop new high containment lab capabilities, alongside the National Microbiology Laboratory
  • Develop and implement a National Isotope Strategy.
  • End “the bias” against Western provinces in receiving a proportional share of federal funding for university research.
  • Create a new $30-million per year fund for minority francophone post-secondary institutions.

New Democratic Party

The NDP 2021 Platform includes the following commitments:

  • Modernize the Investment Canada Act to prevent foreign investors from taking over Canadian companies without security reviews.
  • Create a centre of excellence for R&D of zero-emission vehicles.
  • Restore the Automotive Innovation Fund.
  • Boost clean tech research.
  • Support startups by assisting with scaling, assisting with training and commercializing new tech
  • Boost cleantech research with new funding and incentives.
  • Strengthen the Global Public Health Intelligence Network.
  • Develop and implement a national autism strategy that will coordinate support for research.
  • Invest in forestry R&D and innovation to help companies commercialize new technologies and expand market access for wood products.
  • Introduce “Buy Canadian” procurement of environmentally friendly technologies.
  • Invest in Indigenous-led science.
  • Eliminate the Invest in Canada agency and create iCanada, a one-stop shop to help attract investors to Canada.
  • Make post-secondary education part of the public education system.

 Bloc Québécois

The Bloc Québécois 2021 Platform (French only) includes the following commitments:

  • Promote the green hydrogen sector.
  • Support R&D in the forestry industry.
  • Invest in ecological innovation and support a green recovery.
  • Redirect Quebec’s share of the money invested in fossil fuels to Quebec research centres focusing on clean energy.
  • Provide aerospace sector with predictable and sustainable support for R&D to design and build fuel-efficient aircraft.
  • Support some 200 small and medium-sized enterprises in the aerospace sector during the aviation industry’s current economic crisis.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party 2021 platform includes the following commitments:

  • Increase funding for granting councils (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) from $22.4 billion to $30 billion.
  • Increase R&D funding to 2.5 percent of the GDP to bring Canada in line with the OECD average.
  • Establish a federally-funded Green Venture Capital Fund of $1 billion to support green start-ups.
  • Establish an innovation agency which supports "joint projects across universities, private industry and national labs."
  • Create an “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” program in Canada’s national labs to support innovation.
  • Develop a Nature Based Climate Solutions strategy to include blue carbon into Canada’s Climate Plan.
  • Provide access to federally funded IP at a discount for Canadian companies that operate within Canada.
  • Build, or assist in building, a global climate supercomputer shared between countries that is “capable of producing the climate models for extreme climate events.”
  • Implement the recommendations from Canada’s Fundamental Science Review.
  • Increase funding for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.
  • Restore Climate Change and Atmospheric Research funding to NSERC.
  • Ensure funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory.
  • Increase funding for private and student-led R&D.
  • Fund the development of environment protection plans for farms.
  • Invest in new R&D within the ageing and age-tech sector.
  • Invest in research and production of vaccines to improve Canada’s ability to domestically source vaccines and medical treatments.
  • Develop a national renewable energy electricity grid.
  • Develop partnerships between government, non-profits, academic institutions and industry, and invest in research and equipment.
  • Strengthen the venture capital ecosystem in Canada.
  • Implement a Buy Clean strategy for sourcing Canadian low-carbon technologies.
  • Reallocate R&D funding to support "local and regional value chains."
  • Invest in renewable energy and move towards a net-zero economy.


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