Ontario Liberals offering most cohesive STI commitments amongst provincial election hopefuls

Mark Henderson
May 29, 2018

If Canadian elections were fought and won on the quality the parties’ science, technology and innovation (STI) platforms, the Liberal Party of Ontario would be the winner hands down in the provincial contest on June 7, extending its 15-year grip on power for another four years. Building upon a strong suite of research and innovation policies and programs, the Liberals are committing to add $660 million in new money over the next several years, enhance R&D tax credits and launch a new $85-million Venture Technologies Fund, among other initiatives, which are consistent with the 2018 provincial budget.

Yet the Liberals are badly trailing the New Democratic Party and Progressive Conservative Party who are currently neck and neck in the polls and whose STI platforms range from thin (NDP) to non-existent (PC).

The Green Party is the only other party making substantive STI commitments – not surprisingly dominated by cleantech. The Green Party’s plan is to redirect $3.1 billion in existing business support funding towards cleantech, including advanced manufacturing and bio-products. The plan also calls for pulling subsidies from companies that pollute and change procurement rules to support low-carbon products and services.

The Liberal plan is multifaceted and includes new support for virtually all of the high-tech sectors. There’s $500 million over 10 years more for its New Economy Fund, $50 million for a Transformative Technology Partnerships Fund to support innovation in AI, 5G wireless communications, advanced computing and autonomous vehicles and $25 million over five years for regenerative medicine.

On the policy side, the Liberals have committed to creating a data strategy to help firms derive benefit from the publicly funded economy as well as a new strategy to “help Ontario firms protect and leverage their intellectual property”.

The NDP, which is providing stiff competition to the front-running PC Party, is backing clusters as its marquee STI initiative. It will presumably be guided by an advisory panel on the innovation economy comprised of domestic business leaders, experts and workers. The NDP’s proposed cluster strategy would be inclusive, with all regions targeted, including the northern part of the province: financial services in Toronto, automotive and manufacturing in the southwestern regions of the provinces, information technology in Kitchener-Waterloo, telecom in Ottawa and mining in Sudbury.

The NDP platform does not provide details on how its cluster strategy would work or what level of funding it requires, although it does link the strategy to increasing productivity and innovation and economic growth.

Other NDP commitments that indirectly impact STI are $57 million from the Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) to create opportunities in the trades, $1 billion over 10 years to extend broadband service to rural and northern Ontario and a new fund within the JPF to create opportunities for mid-career education, offering training for people who are working and those who are between employment.

Getting a handle on how the PCs would enhance STI in Ontario is problematic, given that the party has not released a platform. Instead, its pitch to voters is largely comprised of a series of slogans –“more access to beer and wine”, “put more money in your pocket”, “make Ontario open for business” – none of which touch on STI.

The PCs have committed to releasing a platform before election day, which suggests that its contents are not considered sufficiently important to give voters sufficient time to compare it to those of the other parties.


Other News

Events For Leaders in
Science, Tech, Innovation, and Policy

Discuss and learn from those in the know at our virtual and in-person events.

See Upcoming Events

You have 1 free article remaining.
Don't miss out - start your free trial today.

Start your FREE trial    Already a member? Log in


By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.