The Short Report - March 8, 2023: New critical minerals programs; strengthening biomanufacturing, standards and best practices in youth mental health, and more.

Cindy Graham
March 8, 2023


Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson has announced more details on the implementation of Canada's critical minerals strategy launched in December. More than $344 million in funding will support five new programs and initiatives, including the following:

  • a critical minerals technology and innovation program — $144.4 million for R&D, demonstration, commercialization, and adoption of technologies to support sustainable growth in critical minerals value chains and associated innovation ecosystems. 
  • a critical minerals geoscience and data initiative — $79.2 million to enhance the quality and availability of data and digital technologies to support geoscience and mapping. This will accelerate the development of Canadian critical minerals value chains, including by identifying critical minerals reserves and developing pathways for sustainable mineral development. 
  • a global partnerships program — $70 million to strengthen Canada’s global leadership role in enhancing critical minerals supply chain resiliency through international collaborations. 
  • a northern regulatory initiative — $40 million to advance Canada’s northern and territorial critical minerals agenda, supporting regulatory dialogue, regional studies, land-use planning, impact assessments and Indigenous consultation.
  • renewal of the Critical Minerals Centre of Excellence (CMCE) – $10.6 million so the CMCE can continue the development and implementation of the Canadian critical minerals strategy. Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada has approved six projects through its Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration (CMRDD) program, developing essential mineral value chains contributing to Canada's goal of being a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050. Projects approved include a direct lithium extraction pilot project in Alberta (E3 Lithium; $3,545,000);  a recycling and production of rare earth oxides from permanent magnet scrap (Geomega Resources; $3 million), and accelerating battery supply chain integration (FPX Nickel; $724, 871). Natural Resources Canada

The Governments of Canada and the United Kingdom have released a joint statement of intent to establish a critical minerals supply chains dialogue through facilitating investment, sharing resilience analysis, and promoting skill-sharing and R&D between UK and Canadian industry, academia, and governments. The collaboration was launched following the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada 2023 Convention. Natural Resources Canada and Global Affairs Canada along with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office,  Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Department for Business and Trade will identify an initial set of priorities for collaboration. Natural Resources Canada | Backgrounder

RELATED: Government and industry push to make Canada preferred supplier in critical minerals market dominated by China

Meanwhile, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is committing more than $587 million to make Britain a science “superpower” by the end of the decade, in the build-up to next week’s budget. Sunak is using a “coordinated cross-government approach” to drive innovation in technologies including quantum and super computing, artificial intelligence and engineering biology. He created a dedicated department for science, innovation and technology in a mini-reshuffle of the UK cabinet in February. Bloomberg


A partnership between the Canada Foundation for Innovation's Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund and the three federal research funding agencies’ Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) will invest $570 million —$360 million and $210 million respectively — for research, talent development and research infrastructure projects at five biomedical research hubs awarded funding through Stage 1 of CBRF and in alignment with Canada's Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy. The research hubs will be located at the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa (co-led by McMaster University), and the Université de Montréal to accelerate R&D of vaccines and other medicines and diagnostics, and support training and development of highly skilled bioscience professionals. Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat | CFI| ISED

U.K.-based satellite data processor Terra Motion has announced its partnership with Kanata, Ontario-based  Space Strategies Consulting to launch Terra Motion Canada. Terra Motion uses software to provide interferometric analysis for measuring and quantifying ground surface movement across large areas of remote, inaccessible, and varied terrain. Terra Motion 


Global Affairs Canada has announced the conclusion of negotiations on the creation of a legally binding treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The negotiations took place at the final session of the Intergovernmental Conference on BBNJ in New York from February 20 to March 4, 2023. Global Affairs Canada

The Competition Tribunal has ruled in favour of the Commissioner of Competition in a challenge to Calgary-based Secure Energy Services’ acquisition of waste management and environmental services company Tervita Corporation. The tribunal has ordered Secure to sell 29 facilities to resolve the substantial lessening of competition found in 136 relevant markets. Competition Bureau Canada


Research Canada has published an open letter in the Globe and Mail calling for Budget 2023 to close the growing funding gap in health research. The letter is signed by Research Canada’s board of directors and calls on Canadians to reach out to their Members of Parliament ahead of the upcoming federal budget. Research Canada

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is providing nearly $5 million in 25 research projects, including $1 million in funding to support five research teams in Quebec, examining existing standards and best practices and guidelines for the delivery of mental health and substance use services for children, youth, and young adults. The projects will study standards relevant to different care settings (e.g., hospital emergency departments, juvenile justice), different types of standards (e.g., reduce wait times or deliver culturally inclusive care), standards for specific mental health and substance use conditions (e.g., depression, eating disorders), and several projects will focus on underserved populations who typically face barriers to accessing mental health and substance use services. CIHR

Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng has announced that the Coordinated Accessible National (CAN) Health Network is expanding to Quebec, the territories and remote communities. The ability to expand nationally comes after an additional $30 million in financing through Budget 2022 was finalized. The network provides an integrated market connecting businesses with hospitals and health care providers, giving institutions new medical technologies to help patients. ISED

Markham, Ontario-based VentureLAB has opened a lab focused on development of hardware devices tailored to the needs of startups in the medical hardware space. VentureLAB says its HCI MedTech Lab is an attempt to "showcase what is possible at the intersection of MedTech, AI and hardware" and hopes to attract medtech startups to York region and Ontario. Canadian Manufacturing


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will invest more than $24 million through the Agricultural Clean Technology (ACT) Program on the development and adoption of clean technologies by agricultural businesses in Ontario. The investment brings the province-wide total to more than $39 million supporting 97 projects to date and with the latest round of funding going to 51 approved projects  from the Adoption Stream  and four approved projects through the Research and Innovation Stream, including Burlington, Ontario-based  anaerobic digestion solutions provider Anaergia, who received up to $1.7 million through the ACT — Research and Innovation Stream to develop processes that pre-treat source separated organic waste. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Meanwhile the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario have negotiated a Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership for Ontario that will see upwards of  $1.77 billion in support of the agri-food sector over the next five years, coming into force on April 1. The agreement, which is in line with the priorities the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers agreed to in 2021 in The Guelph Statement, will see $569 million invested in strategic initiatives and roughly $1.2 billion to support business risk management supports for farmers. The program will boost investments in research and innovation, including the launch of the Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program to mitigate climate change and support for the agricultural sector sustainability. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


The Canadian Space Agency has awarded contracts of nearly $7 million for R&D of satellite imagery. Some of the projects funded will increase the power of radar satellite imagery, enable higher resolution images and intelligent anomaly detection, and improve measurements of sea ice thickness. Awardees include MDA (Vancouver; up to $500,000 to investigate multi-aperture exploitation); Astrocom (Ottawa; up to $238,000 to investigate the use of satellites to better distinguish open water from new sea ice) and C-CORE (St. John's; up to $238,000 to develop a satellite instrument to improve the ability to measure sea ice thickness. CSA | Awarded contracts

The University of New Brunswick’s Off-site Construction Research Centre (OCRC) will be expanding, thanks to more than $1.3 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and funding leveraged from other sources. OCRC will use the funds to advance its research and innovation in the area of off-site construction alternatives and support industry partnerships, the construction of a building envelope testing facility, and the development of an off-site construction education and certificate program. UNB

Carleton University researchers have received more than $3 million from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), a single-round record for CIHR funding for the university. Carleton says its external research income has reached more than $97 million, a 79 percent increase over the past four years. The funding will support projects developing solutions to the prevalence of diabetes (lead researcher Dr. Jenny Bruin), chronic pain ( Dr. Michael Hildebrand), gut health disturbances (Dr. Menno Oudhoff), and brain injuries (Dr. Oren Petel). Carleton U.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) says it expects investment in oil and natural gas production to reach $40 billion this year, an 11 percent increase in additional spending over last year. The additional spending will be mainly directed towards environmental protection and emission reduction technologies. CAPP says conventional oil and natural gas capital investment for 2023 is forecast at $28.5 billion, while oil sands investment is expected to reach $11.5 billion. CAPP

The Grapevine

Dr. Genevieve Thompson will be the inaugural holder of the Research Chair in Person-Directed Living, a new research chair created by the University of Manitoba’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and Winnipeg's Riverview Health Centre (RHC), focused on improving the quality of life for people living in long-term care. Thompson will be evaluating evidence-informed practice to improve the quality of life of older people and their families, the quality of care, and the quality of work for those employed at RHC. UManitoba

Dr. Danielle Macdonald has been appointed interim director of Queen's Kaleidoscope Institute (QKI), formerly Queen's University's Institute for Global and Population Health, effective March 1, 2023. Her appointment is effective until August 31, 2023. Macdonald was appointed on the recommendation of Dean Jane Philpott and replaces Dr. Heather Aldersey who led the institute on an interim basis.  QKI collaborates across disciplines on projects to advance global and population health. Queen's U.

Donald Houston has joined the Competition Bureau Legal Services as senior general counsel and legal advisor to the Commissioner of Competition. Houston has advised on competition law and policy-related cases, as well as private actions in the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, and all levels of courts in Ontario. He has also represented the Commissioner of Competition before the courts. Canadian Lawyer





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