Arm , Brock University , BWX Technologies Inc. , Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association , Conference Board of Canada , Government of British Columbia , InMed Pharmaceuticals , Institute of Navigation (ION), Ontario Public Service Employees Union , QS Quacquarelli Symonds, Quantum Industry Canada , Rhodium Group , Rutgers University , Simon Fraser University , Snowflake, Snowflake Canada , University of Calgary , Vidyard , Alberta’s Office of the Chief Scientist, Algonquin College, BC Hydro, CAE, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Infrastructure Bank, Canadian Aviation & Space Museum, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadian Natural, Canadian Space Agency, Carleton University, Cenovus, Chalmers University of Technology, Coalition Avenir Québec government , ConocoPhillips Canada, Corporate Knights., Council of Canadian Academies, Council of Canadian Innovators, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, DMZ, Eocycle Technologies, ETH Zurich, Exxon, Finance Canada, Fraser Institute, French National Centre for Scientific Research, Government of Alberta, Government of New Brunswick, Government of Nova Scotia, Government of Onario, Government of Quebec, Government of Yukon, Greenhouse Technology Network, Harvard University , Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, Laurentian University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, MDA Space, MEG Energy, Michigan State University, Nature Conservancy Canada, Ontario School Safety, Pathways Alliance, Public Health Ontario, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., SNOLAB, Space Canada, Statistics Canada, Suncor Energy, SWTCH Energy, Toronto Metropolitan University, U.S. Army, UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Ulkatcho Energy Corporation, Ulkatcho First Nation, UniUni, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Université du Québec à Rimouski, University Affairs , University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Guelph, University of Lethbridge, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Untether AI, WELL Health Clinic Network Inc., Well Health Technologies Corp., Western University, WonderFi Technologies Inc. , and Xanadu


advanced driver assist systems and autonomous vehicles, Basecamp program for student entrepreneurs, Canada Greener Homes Grant, Canada Greener Homes Loan, Canada-France MOU on hydrogen, Canada's space industry, Canadian Entrepreneurs Incentive in Budget 2024, changes to SR&ED program, closure of Ontario public laboratories, crypto trading platforms, data cloud providing , Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), e-commerce last-mile logistics, Embark Student Foundation Major Grant Program, Energy Research & Social Science (journal) , EV charging technology for multi-tenant buildings, federal Budget 2024, federal government's underspending on climate funding, federal Online Harms Act (Bill C-63), Franco-Canadian International Research Centre on Hydrogen, Green and Inclusive Community Buildings (GICB) Program, health myths online, impact of capital gains tax on startups, impact of radiation and cosmic rays on quantum technologies, increase in capital gains tax in Budget 2024, investment in capital by Canada's business sector, Low Carbon Economy Fund, nano-scale robots , Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF), nuclear power development in Ontario, online health misinformation, Pathways Alliance CCS project, proposed National Space Council, provincial and territorial budgets: spending on postsecondary education, Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF), QS World University Rankings by Subject, Quebec funding for universities and research centres at affiliated university hospitals, research on impact of capital gains tax increases, research on water storage in southern Alberta, robotics operation of the International Space Centre, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Joseph A. Remai Saskatoon Campus, science of positioning, navigation and timing , small wind turbines for rural areas, solar energy project for Ulkatcho First Nation, Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), strengths and weaknesses of Online Harms Act, study on greenwashing by oilsands alliance, technology in medical clinics , training for civil aviation and defence security markets, use of cannabinoids in medical treatments, venture capital raised by quantum computing companies, video messaging technology, wild pollinators and reduced farm productivity, wool as a natural soil enhancer, and Zero Emission Transit Fund

The Short Report: April 24, 2024

Research Money
April 24, 2024


The Government of Quebec is providing $109 million to universities and research centres of affiliated university hospitals, for a total of 36 innovation projects. The funding, which will complement funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, will improve and better support the research community, in addition to maintaining its development and acquiring state-of-the-art equipment, the Quebec government said. Projects from higher education networks will receive $97.2 million in funding, while those under the Ministry of Health and Social Services will receive $12.55 million. In addition, the federal government and other partners have provided assistance, bringing the total investment in Quebec institutions to more than $287 million. The funding includes nearly $3 million for the Université du Québec à Rimouski, to support the project for a laboratory for the study of global changes in the estuarine environment. The  Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières will receive $767,457 to support the development of TRACES, a modern and ancient DNA laboratory that will be the first infrastructure oriented toward the formal linking of unconventional DNA source with other data associated with individuals and populations. TRACES is led by professor Emmanuel Milot, an internationally renowned expert in DNA analysis. Govt. of Quebec

University Affairs published a series of reports on the provincial and territorial budgets that highlight the key takeaways for the postsecondary sector in each region. For each province and the Yukon, writer Hannah Liddle outlines the overall investments into postsecondary education, as well as the targeted funding that the governments allocated to projects and program expansions at universities. Where available, Liddle has also highlighted any notable reactions to the budget by local university leaders, student and faculty union representatives, and other stakeholders. Among the highlights:

  • Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party government will spend $12.2 billion on the postsecondary education sector in 2024-25, an increase of $100 million over last year.
  • Coalition Avenir Quebec expects to spend $11 billion on postsecondary education in 2024-25, a 3.5-per-cent increase from 2023-24.
  • Alberta’s United Conservative Party government allocated $5.6 billion for postsecondary education, an increase of $81 million from what the province had forecasted. 
  • British Columbia’s New Democratic Party government released  earmarked $3.3 billion this year for postsecondary education and “future skills” – a 17-per-cent increase from what was forecasted last year.
  • Yukon’s territorial government led by Premier Ranj Pillaiis projected to spend $93 million on education in 2024-25, a portfolio which includes early learning and child care, public schools and postsecondary education. Yukon University, Canada’s only university in the territories, will receive $31 million – one third of total spending – for its operating budget.
  • New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative party government will spend $534 million on postsecondary education, with the province’s four publicly funded universities receiving a total of $295 million in operational funding. 
  • Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government is expected to spend $726 million in 2024-25 on advanced education, a $32 million increase from its 2023-24 estimate. 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal government is expected to spend $421.6 million on postsecondary education in 2024-25, a 7.5 per cent increase from the year prior. University Affairs

The Government of Canada announced in Budget 2024 that it will create a National Space Council, heeding repeated calls from industry group Space Canada – which represents more than 80 members – for such an agency. “The new National Space Council will enable the level of collaboration required to secure Canada’s future as a leader in the global space race, addressing cross-cutting issues that span commercial, civil, and defence domains. This will also enable the government to leverage Canada’s space industrial base with its world-class capabilities, workforce, and track record of innovation and delivery,” the Budget 2024 document said. It has been five years since the Space Advisory Board was essentially disbanded and two years since the creation of Space Canada. Brian Gallant, CEO of Space Canada, said in a statement: “The creation of a National Space Council will enable the federal government to better coordinate efforts to strengthen the Canadian space ecosystem, and it will send a signal internationally that Canada is ready to step up on the world stage.” Advancements in space play an important role in protecting our oceans and forests, combatting climate change and mitigating its effects, safeguarding Canada’s security and sovereignty, and addressing the digital divide, Gallant said. “Prioritizing space will create a more innovative and competitive Canadian economy that works for everyone.” Budget 2024 also proposed adding $8.6 million to the Canadian Space Agency’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program this year. Budget 2024, spaceQ

The Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia are together investing nearly $16 million in a new solar energy project for the Ulkatcho First Nation. The project is expected to reduce the need for diesel-fuelled generation in the remote community by about 64 per cent – equal to a reduction of 1.1 million litres of diesel a year – and it is estimated to be the largest off-grid solar project in Canada. Located in Anahim Lake in central B.C., the Ulkatcho First Nation’s power is currently 100-per-cent diesel generated. After scientific studies and a business case were completed, it was determined that solar power was the best alternative energy solution for the community. To transition the community to clean energy, a solar power plant will be built by Ulkatcho Energy Corporation south of Anahim Lake. The project also includes the construction of new access roads and paths, control and monitoring of the new facility, fire management, security, signage and other related assets. BC Hydro will buy the solar energy through a Community Electricity Purchase Agreement and integrate the energy into its microgrid through a line interconnection and battery energy storage system to then serve the community. Infrastructure Canada

The Government of Alberta is providing a $500,000 grant to the University of Lethbridge to help explore water storage in lakes and other key environmental issues impacting Southern Alberta and other regions of the province. This collaborative research will help government and university researchers better understand and respond to droughts, species at risk, and changes in climate. The three-year research grant will help support eight collaborative research projects investigating a wide range of topics, including:

  • The water storage potential of Alberta’s lakes
  • Carbon storage and carbon sequestration potential of Alberta wetlands and terrestrial ecosystems
  • The impact of fire on carbon storage in Alberta peatlands
  • The diversity, abundance and biomass of key insects in provincially protected areas.

In addition, the research will explore emerging questions and issues affecting Southern Alberta and the rest of the province:

  • How habitat restoration and oil and gas site reclamation can assist in recovery of endangered sage grouse
  • How changing weather patterns affect the productivity and carbon sequestration potential of native grassland and prairie wetlands
  • How changing water temperature and contaminants may impact rainbow trout and brown trout populations in important fisheries like the Bow River
  • How human recreation and other activities are affecting the Upper Oldman Watershed.

This grant is part of a rotating program led by Alberta’s Office of the Chief Scientist. Previously, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta received funding for key research activities. About $1.5 million in research grants will be awarded by the Office of the Chief Scientist this year to better monitor and understand Alberta’s environment. Govt. of Alberta


Several Canadian postsecondary institutions are among the leaders of the 2024 edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject. Thirty-two Canadian universities appeared among the rankings, with 17 schools appearing in the top 10 for at least one subject area. Looking to the five broad subject areas:

  • University of Toronto ranked #5 in Nursing, #5 in Sports-Related Subjects, #9 in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, #10 in Engineering – Mineral & Mining, tied for 10th in the Arts and Humanities, #12 in Social Sciences and Management, #13 Life Sciences & Medicine, and #14 Medicine.
  • University of British Columbia: #3 Sports-Related Subjects, #14 Anthropology, #11 Engineering – Mineral & Mining, #12 Environmental Sciences, #15 Earth and Marine Sciences, #15 Geology, and #15 Geophysics
  • McGill University ranked #5 Mineral & Mining Engineering
  • University of Alberta: #6 Engineering – Petroleum)and #12 Engineering – Mineral & Mining;.
  • University of Guelph: #9 Veterinary Science.

In comparison, the U.S. had 213 universities in the Rankings by Subject, with 244 in the top 10. The U.K. had 103 universities in the ranked universities, with 148 in the top 10. U.S. universities led in 32 subjects. Harvard University is the world’s strongest-performing institution, first in 19 disciplines. MIT follows, leading in 11 subjects. Switzerland had the highest concentration of #1 entries (4) proportionally to its ranked universities. ETH Zurich leads in three subjects, making it Continental Europe’s strongest institution. The analysis included 1,500-plus universities in 96 countries and territories, ranked across 55 disciplines. QS Quacquarelli Symonds

Algonquin College in Ottawa signed a memorandum of understanding with Montreal-based CAE, a leader in training for the civil aviation and defence and security markets, to advance workforce development and innovation. The agreement covers such projects as the development of an Immersive Learning Lab and the launch of a virtual exhibit on Canada’s Cold War era in partnership with the Canadian Aviation & Space Museum. The collaboration will also support Indigenous education and integrate innovative technologies into learning environments. “I foresee innumerable opportunities within this partnership to equip our learners with the skills needed to meet the dynamic demands of the workforce and drive substantial progress in our society,” said Algonquin President Claude Brulé. Algonquin College

A new collaboration between researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of WaterlooSNOLAB near Sudbury, Ont., and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has been awarded a new grant to investigate the impact of radiation and cosmic rays on quantum technologies. The grant, sponsored by the U.S. Army’s research office, was awarded to Dr. Chris Wilson, a faculty member at IQC and professor in Waterloo’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, alongside Dr. Jeter Hall, director of research at SNOLAB and adjunct professor at Laurentian University, and Dr. Per Delsing, professor at Chalmers University of Technology and director of the Wallenberg Center for Quantum Technology. The research team plans to examine the known link between cosmic rays and quantum bits, or qubits, which hold information at the quantum level. Recent experiments have identified that one source of errors that occur in qubits are from being hit by a high energy particle, such as a cosmic ray or radioactivity. This results in an error “hotspot,” which spreads out to neighbouring qubits, and has been seen happening at a rate of about once every 10 seconds, setting an upper limit on quantum calculation time. High quality superconducting qubits will be manufactured in the fabrication facilities at Chalmers University, and then tested at the surface in both Sweden and Waterloo, as well as two kilometres underground at SNOLAB to study the differences in each environment. Canadian Mining Journal

During a recent meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister of the French Republic Gabriel Attal, Canada and France signed a memorandum of understanding to create the Franco-Canadian International Research Network on hydrogen. The Network will be coordinated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research and involve 10 universities from both countries. The initiative aims to deepen collaborative efforts between Canadian and French researchers to improve low-carbon-emission hydrogen production technologies. The two countries also announced new bilateral co-operation on transportation, in particular decarbonizing aviation and airport activities, railway transportation, decarbonizing the maritime sector, and supply chains. A partnership will be signed to formalize this bilateral initiative. Canada and France also signed a declaration of intent to strengthen their collaboration in fighting wildfires, notably through personnel exchanges during emergencies, in areas such as innovation data- and information-sharing, and firefighter training. In co-operation with British Columbia. Prime Minister’s Office

Brampton, Ont.-based MDA Space announced it received a $250-million contract extension from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to continue supporting robotics operations on the International Space Station (ISS) from 2025 to 2030. As part of the contract, MDA Space will now fulfil robotics flight controller duties to support mission operations on the ISS. Since 2001, MDA Space has worked alongside the CSA and its international partners to provide operational readiness of the Mobile Servicing System, which comprises Canadarm2, Dextre and the Mobile Base System. MDA Space also provides training to the robotic operators and supports mission planning, engineering support and real-time operations. MDA Space

Virginia-headquartered BWX Technologies Inc. is investing $80 million to expand its Cambridge, Ont. nuclear manufacturing plant as Ontario builds out nuclear power generation, including plans for four small modular reactors at the Darlington nuclear site and a new large-scale new nuclear build at the Bruce site. BWXT investment builds on the company’s existing operations in Ontario, which already employ 1,200 people. The expansion, to begin in the third quarter this and to be completed in early 2026, will add more than 250 new, unionized jobs. Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathways to Decarbonization Report forecasts an additional 17,800 MW of nuclear power could be required to meet projected increased power demand in the province, from 42,000 megawatts today to 88,000 MW in 2050. Govt. of Ontario

Montana-headquartered Snowflake, a data cloud provider, announced it’s expanding in Canada and opened a new 52,000-sq-ft downtown Toronto office to serve as the company’s Canadian headquarters. Snowflake first arrived in Canada in 2022, making Toronto home to one of the company’s five global Snowflake Engineering Hubs. The company said as part of its growth strategy, Snowflake Canada is on track to double its team in 2024 and further build out its Canadian presence. Snowflake said it now has over 7,000 global employees, more than 45 global offices, and serves more than  9,400 total customers as of January 31, 2024. Canadian customers include Alberta Health Services, eSentire, Sanofi, and more. Snowflake

Toronto-based semiconductor startup Untether AI announced a collaboration with U.K.-based global chip design company Arm to develop best-in-class solutions optimized for next-generation automotive applications. As part of the collaboration, Untether AI will enable its inference acceleration technology to be implemented alongside the latest-generation Automotive Enhanced technology from Arm, to create solutions that address performance, power, safety and security requirements for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicle applications. Arm’s technology is found in chips made by AMD, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Samsung. Untether AI

WELL Health Clinic Network Inc., a subsidiary of Vancouver-based WELL Health Technologies Corp., a digital health care company, announced an agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. to acquire all of the primary medical clinics operated by Shoppers. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The Health Clinic by Shoppers™ comprises of 10 clinics (four in British Columbia and six in Ontario), with over 35 physicians on staff.  Post-close, WELL will rebrand these clinics under the WELL Clinic brand. WELL said it intends to enhance operational and service capabilities across the newly added clinics, including focusing on optimizing cost structures, integrating digital workflows, adding patient engagement technologies, and implementing advanced AI tools. WELL said it expects the assets to contribute approximately $8M in annual revenue. WELL Health Technologies

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) and members working at Public Health Ontario (PHO) Labs protested at Queen’s Park in Ontario about the potential closure of six out of 11 PHO labs in Ontario. They said the closure poses a risk for all Ontarians, especially rural families and communities. PHO currently has a plan to close the laboratory sites in Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Orillia, Hamilton, Kingston, and Peterborough as part of its “modernization plan.” In December 2023, Ontario’s Auditor General endorsed this plan and recommended that the labs be closed within 12 months. Combined, these labs collect and process thousands of water samples and time-sensitive medical tests each day. Their will “undermine our ability to detect and prevent the spread of disease and compromise our response to future health crises,” according to the union. OPSEU/SEFPO.


Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask Polytech) received a gift of $25 million from real estate developer and philanthropist Joseph A. Remai. To acknowledge this generous donation, which is the largest gift from an individual the institution has ever received, the new Saskatoon campus to be built at Innovation Place will be named the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Joseph A. Remai Saskatoon Campus. Remai, one of 11 children, was born and raised on a farm near Carrot River, Sask. His career spanned six decades, during which he successfully built thousands of multi-residential condominium and rental units, as well as commercial and hotel properties, primarily in Saskatchewan. He is a passionate supporter of education, the Saskatchewan construction industry and the city of Saskatoon, and his companies have employed countless Sask Polytech graduates and apprentices. Sask Polytech

Toronto-based SWTCH Energy, which offers electric vehicle charging solutions for multi-tenant buildings, announced it raised US$27.2 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Blue Earth Capital on behalf of its investment vehicles with participation from Alantra’s Energy Transition Fund, Klima. Additional Series B investors include Active Impact Investments and GIGA Investments Corp. SWTCH said the new funding will enable the company to accelerate EV charging in multi-tenant buildings and advance its innovative EV charging and integrated energy management solutions for real estate customers. SWTCH’s technology It allows building owners to install and manage 10 times more EV chargers with existing electrical infrastructure. SWTCH

Richmond, B.C.-based UniUni, which specializes in e-commerce last-mile logistics, announced it raised $69 million in an oversubscribed Series C financing round led by global venture capital firm DCM. UniUni’s logistics platform is optimized for e-commerce and a variable-cost model for driver recruitment, dispatch and routing. The company said the financing will be used to further develop its proprietary tech stack that powers its logistics platform and to grow UniUni’s network of sorting centers as the company continues to expand delivery coverage across the U.S. Founded in 2019, UniUni delivers tens of millions of parcels from coast to coast in Canada alone, and now has more than 50 high-capacity sorting centres in North America, including in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Miami and Chicago. UniUni

Montreal-based small wind turbine manufacturer Eocycle Technologies announced $25 million in financing in Series A funding to expand its operations in key markets throughout the U.S. Midwest and Great Plains, as well as in Europe. The deal was led by Export Development Canada, and also backed by the Fonds de Solidarité FTQ, which each invested $10 million. The investment was complemented by a $5-million loan from Investissement Québec. Ecocycle manufactures 25-kilowatt and 90-kW “distributed wind turbines” designed for on-site production of clean electricity at rates significantly lower than utilities can provide. The company said model this ideal for farms, or commercial and industrial facilities looking to cut their energy costs and meet emissions targets. “Distributed wind” means that the turbines are connected to the power grid, meaning any excess power they generate will be sold into the grid, ensuring no power is wasted and optimizing the user’s revenue and savings. These small turbines are designed primarily for rural areas. Ecocyle said the financing will be used to increase staff by more than 50 per cent, bringing on new people in sales, production and customer service, as well as ongoing R&D to further optimize financial returns for users. Ecocyle Technologies

Kitchener-Waterloo-based video messaging company Vidyard secured about $21 million in finaincing led by Export Development Canada with participation from BMO Capital Partners, in addition to existing investors Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and iNovia Capital. Vidyard also introduced what it said is the industry’s first hyper-realistic AI Avatars – that look and sound just like the user – to its Vidyard Messages platform. Organizations such as HubSpot, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and S&P Global use the platform to increase effectiveness and scale outreach when communicating with customers and prospects, Vidyard said. AI Avatars help sales organizations scale all stages of the sales cycle and enable marketers to create high-quality, personalized videos while minimizing the time spent recording and editing. Vidyard

 Toronto-based Xanadu is among the 10 venture capital-backed quantum computing companies that have raised the most capital since 2019, according to PitchBook data. Xanadu has raised a total of $241.2 million to date, with investors that include Alumni Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Tiger Global. Xanadu, which as a $1-billion valuation according to PitchBook, is working on quantum photonics, a light-based mode of data transfer that is faster and more efficient than traditional electrical wiring because information can be processed as it moves. PitchBook

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU)-based startup incubator DMZ has received the Embark Student Foundation’s inaugural $500,000 Embark Student Foundation Major Grant Program. This summer, made possible through Embark’s support, the Basecamp program for students will be offered in two phases: Sprint and Voyage. Open to university students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Basecamp Sprint is a four-week pitch coaching experience where students will get the chance to pitch their business at Collision, North America’s premier tech conference, to win a trip to New York City. Basecamp: Voyage is a comprehensive eight-week program designed to help high school and university students develop innovative ideas that leverage technology to address pressing industry challenges. Participants in Basecamp Voyage benefit from expert one-on-one mentoring, customized expert coaching, and the opportunity to connect with leading startups and experts within Canada and DMZ’s global network for an immersive learning experience To date Basecamp has supported 365 student entrepreneurs who have created 151 new startups. TMU


Investment in capital in Canada’s business sector has declined since 2015, StatsCan reports

Investment in capital, a main contributor to the growth in labour productivity in the business sector in Canada, declined following the collapse of commodity prices that started in 2014, according to a report by Statistics Canada (StatsCan).

From 1980 to 2015, the increase in capital intensity contributed 0.9 percentage points per year to the growth in labour productivity. From 2015 to 2022, it contributed about 0.4 percentage points to the growth in labour productivity.

From 1980 to 2000, labour productivity rose at 1.8 per cent per year. From 2015 to 2022, labour productivity rose 0.8 per cent per year. This represents a one percentage point decline in labour productivity growth between these two periods.

Weaker investment in fixed capital was the most significant contributor to the relatively slow labour productivity growth after 2015 compared with the period before 2000.

About 0.5 percentage points – or half of the decline in labour productivity growth – can be traced to the decline in capital intensity.

Multifactor productivity increased 0.6 per cent in the Canadian business sector in 2022, following a decline of 2.2 per cent in 2021, according to StatsCan’s report.

The increase in multifactor productivity in 2022  reflected a 4.4-per-cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and a 3.8- per-cent growth in the combined inputs of capital and labour.

Multifactor productivity measures the extent of efficiency in the use of inputs in the production process. Growth in multifactor productivity is often associated with technological change, organizational change or economies of scale.

Multifactor productivity growth was volatile during the COVID-19 pandemic. A strong GDP growth and a much stronger growth of hours worked in 2021 were caused by the recovery of the economy from its large drop in 2020, which led to a large negative multifactor productivity growth in 2021, according to the report.

Multifactor productivity is one of the three components of labour productivity, the other two being capital intensity and labour skill upgrading. An increase in capital intensity arises from investment in equipment, structures and intellectual property that contributes to growth in labour productivity.

 Skill upgrading is measured by labour composition changes toward workers who are more educated and more experienced. It captures the effect of an increase in worker skills from education and experience on labour productivity.

 The decline in multifactor productivity growth after 2015 compared with the period from 1980 to 2000 contributed to a 0.4 percentage point decline in labour productivity growth. The decline in skill upgrading contributed 0.1 percentage points to this decline.

[Editor’s Note: The linkage between business investment in capital and labour productivity is important, given that the federal government’s 2024 budget increased the capital gains tax inclusion rate for all corporations and trusts to 66.67 per cent from 50 per cent – effective June 25, 2024.]

For individuals with gains over $250,000, the capital gains tax rate also will increase to 66.67 per cent – up from 50 per cent.

Ottawa’s increase to the capital gains tax “might just be the be the single most damaging policy change for Canadian entrepreneurs, stunting economic growth for generations,” Kim Furlong, CEO of the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, said in an op-ed column in the National Post

“This policy would lead to a significant reduction in domestic capital, undermining the nation’s ability to retain existing entrepreneurs and attract new talent. Canada’s investors and entrepreneurs have the ambition to scale; this government just signalled that it does not,” she said.

In addition, higher capital gains tax leads to what is known as the “lock-in” effect, which creates an incentive for people to hold on to low-performing assets, Furlong said. It  leads investors and entrepreneurs to retain existing investments rather than selling them and investing in something new, such as an emerging business, just to avoid the capital gains tax. 

More than 1,400 Canadian tech CEOs, financiers and other leaders have signed an open letter published by the Council of Canadian Innovators calling on Ottawa to scrap the increase on capital gains tax.

Several economists, industry groups and former Liberal finance minister Bill Morneau have criticized the move as well, saying it will not help a country that has been dogged by weak productivity and per-capita economic stagnation.

But the federal government maintained these added taxes will raise $19.4-billion in revenue over five years needed to fund spending commitments in housing, health care, defence and scientific research. 

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who met with a small group of innovators and investors to discuss the budget, argued that academic research suggests raising capital-gains taxes will not threaten entrepreneurship or economic growth. The research she cited included that by the late Simon Fraser University economics professor Jonathan Kesselman.

In a comprehensive review of the academic literature on the capital gains in 2023, Kesselman said that “economic analysis confirms the adverse effects of higher capital gains taxes” on the creation and success of startups.

However, Budget 2024 included a new Canadian Entrepreneurs Incentive where the inclusion rate for the capital gains tax will be only 33.3 per cent.

As the report by Statistics Canada found, even with the current capital gains tax of 50 per cent, investment in capital in Canada’s business sector has been declining since 2015.

Moreover, historical data from Canada’s peer countries show a strong positive relationship between businesses’ investment in machine and equipment (M&E) and labour productivity. Canada’s investment in M&E as a share of GDP is among the lowest of its peers.

“The gap in investment in information and communications technology between Canada and the U.S. accounts for a large proportion of the labour productivity gap between the two countries,” according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada (CoBC).

Corporate investment in Canada as a share of total investment was the lowest among a set of developed countries from 2005 to 2016, according to a report by the Fraser Institute.

From 2010 to 2016, the shares of business in vestment in M&E, as well as in intellectual property products, declined relative to the shares of those assets in total investment for the OECD countries studied, the Fraser Institute said.

Despite the historically low business investment in capital, M&E and IP, CoBC’s analysis of Budget 2024 noted: “Any big shift in corporate tax rules adds to planning uncertainty and puts a chill in business investment intentions. At a time where Canada desperately needs to improve its productive capacity, the measure [increasing the tax on capital gains] is bound to have negative effects trickling broadly through the economy.” StatsCan, The Globe and Mail


SR&ED program should maximize payouts for SMEs working in sectors of critical importance to Canada, Quantum Industry Canada says

The federal government’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit program should implement a prioritization framework that expedites processing and maximizes payout rates for small and medium-sized businesses operating within sectors of critical importance to Canada’s economy and national security, Quantum Industry Canada says in a submission to Finance Canada.

Finance Canada is doing consultations on ways to “modernize” the SR&ED program, which will provide about $3.9 billion in tax credits this year to companies, to make it more effective.

Quantum Industry Canada says its suggested framework should target a specific set of critical technologies, including quantum, as Australia programs do based on the country’s List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest, Quantum Industry Canada says.

The prioritization framework could include:

  • Fast-track processing of SR&ED applications for SMEs advancing critical technologies.
  • Enhanced payout rates, with SMEs in critical sectors receiving SR&ED credits “at the highest possible rates.”
  • A pre-approval mechanism for projects by SMEs within Canada’s strategic sectors.

Quantum Canada also recommends that the SR&ED program streamline approvals and enhance cash flow for innovators, by:

  • Shifting to a system where SR&ED claims containing all necessary documentation are automatically approved. “This change would eliminate the need for detailed technical reviews by [Canada Revenue Agency] staff who may not have the specific expertise to evaluate the technical merits of each claim, thereby reducing the subjective nature of the approval process and administrative overheads while speeding up the time to funding.”
  • Implementing a system of random audits to ensure compliance and integrity of the SR&ED program.
  • Adjusting the reimbursement model to more closely reflect actual R&D expenses, providing companies with more immediate financial relief and better cash flow management.

“Adopting these recommendations would significantly enhance the predictability and accessibility of the SR&ED program for Canadian innovators, encouraging more companies to undertake ambitious R&D projects,” Quantum Industry Canada says.

The association, which represents more than 50 quantum technology companies across Canada, also recommends that Ottawa broaden SR&ED eligible expenditures. This expansion should include:

  • R&D equipment, including specialized lab equipment essential for quantum research and development.
  • Patent and intellectual property costs, such as for patent filings and IP protection including data security and secure research environments. “This change is vital to promote IP retention in Canada and to maintain and advance Canada's position among world leaders in the development of critical technologies like quantum that impact the country’s national interest.”
  • Commercialization and continuous improvement activities, including market analysis, product validation, product-market fit, and scalability activities.

Quantum Industry Canada also recommends the government make a “nuanced revision” to the Canadian-Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC) eligibility criteria for the SR&ED program. The existing CCPC requirements may inadvertently discourage Canadian SMEs from pursuing vital foreign investments, potentially constraining their innovation and growth, the association says.

It says the revisions to the CCPC should include:

  • Acknowledging unintended consequences, by recognizing that stringent adherence to CCPC status for SR&ED eligibility could restrict Canadian SMEs in critical technology sectors from accessing necessary foreign investments.
  • Facilitating access to global capital, by modifying SR&ED eligibility criteria to offer SMEs more flexibility in accepting foreign investments without forfeiting their SR&ED benefits.
  • Prioritizing R&D activities in Canada, by revising the criteria to underscore the importance of conducting and advancing a majority of a company’s R&D activities within Canada, “focusing on the substantial benefits to Canadian business innovation and the economy, rather than solely based on the company's ownership structure.”
  • Support operational flexibility, by allowing SMEs to strategically source capital based on their operational needs and the potential to boost R&D efforts in Canada.

Quantum Industry Canada also urges the government to strengthen IP retention and R&D in Canada by implementing a “poison pill” repayment mechanism within the SR&ED program.

This measure would require companies benefiting from SR&ED, but later relocating their IP or a majority of their R&D outside of Canada, to repay relevant funds received. Repaid funds would be reinvested into the SR&ED program.

The recommendation aims to foster the retention and development of IP in Canada, while ensuring that foreign investment can serve as a catalyst for Canadian innovation and growth without undermining the country’s intellectual assets, the association says.

Finally, Quantum Industry Canada recommends the government implement a patent box regime integrated within a broader innovation policy toolkit.

The aim should be to incentivize the development and retention of IP generated within Canada without tying it to the commercialization of a product, particularly benefiting sectors poised for significant economic impact, such as quantum technology, the association says.

A patent box should be part of a suite of innovation policy reforms, Quantum Industry Canada says. This includes &ED program and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program to ensure that early-stage IP development is adequately supported.

Also, the patent box regime’s benefits should be accessible not only to profitable companies but also to pre-revenue startups and SMEs through mechanism like cash rebates or credits, Quantum Industry Canada recommends.

It says Canadian-controlled spinoff companies utilizing patents developed by Canadian non-profits or public entities, such as universities and research hubs, should benefit from the patent box regime.

Safeguards should be implemented with the regime to prevent exploitation, for example by linking eligibility to the SR&ED program, Quantum Industry Canada says. Quantum Industry Canada

[Editor’s Note: For a comparison on recommendations for the SR&ED program, see Research Money’s stories on the submission by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation in the April 10, 2024 Short Report, and the submission by the Council of Canadian Innovators in the February 28, 2024 Short Report.]


Members of Council of Canadian Academies’ expert panel weigh in on federal Online Harms Act

In late February, the federal government’s Online Harms Act (Bill C-63), which identifies categories of damaging content and proposes legislative and regulatory mechanisms for addressing them, was tabled in the House of Commons.

Bill C-63 still has to go through committee hearings, parliamentary votes, and a review by the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to address concerns raised in Vulnerable Connections, a 2023 report from the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) that details the complex social and legal issues underpinning digital public safety, and the importance of accountable approaches to addressing cyber-enabled harms.

Several members of CCA’s Expert Panel on Public Safety in the Digital Age weighed in on the Online Harms Act, and detailed the road ahead:

The proposed legislation “doesn’t tread on the dangerous ground of regulating speech that would be ‘lawful but awful,’” Florian Martin-Bariteau, associate professor, University Research Chair in Technology and Society, and director of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society at the University of Ottawa, wrote in Policy Options.

Rather, the act focuses on “new obligations for the operators of major digital platforms and the creation of new bodies to support victims,” he said.

Contrary to what some critics may claim, the bill in its current form doesn’t bring undue restrictions to freedom of expression, a right that is never absolute, Martin-Bariteau said.

Bill C-63 strengthens existing mechanisms and sanctions against harmful content already prohibited in Canada, such as that promoting terrorism and violent extremism and incitation to hatred, he said. “It beefs up measures against child pornography, bullying children or messages inciting them to harm themselves, as well as ‘revenge porn’ and the revictimization of survivors of sexual crimes.”

However, Martin-Bariteau said the government missed an opportunity to learn from the best privacy frameworks, in requiring platform operators to appoint resources persons familiar with internal procedures who could support victims – but not requiring these resource persons to be located in Canada.

These resource persons could additionally be “digital safety officers” with guarantees of protection and independence modeled on “data protection officers,” who could act in the event of a problem and influence the organization’s policies, he said.

A curious and problematic point Bill C-63, Martin-Bariteau noted, remains the mention of possible royalties set by the government that would have to be paid by platforms to operate in Canada and would be used to fund the commission.

While the federal budget is limited, the commission must be seen as an investment for Canadian society, he said. Such a funding mechanism could also have a perverse effect on the quality of information and competition in an ecosystem that already relies on a handful of players, he added.

If lessons are learned from recent attempts to levy digital royalties with Bill C-18, some operators could withdraw from the Canadian market, reinforcing existing information oligopolies and cutting Canadians off from certain platforms that are essential in a globalized world, Martin -Bariteau said. “This could be dramatic for not-for-profit platforms such as Wikipedia, which may find themselves regulated but unable to pay royalties.”

One of the bill’s biggest shortcomings is the lack of protection for whistleblowers, Martin-Bariteau said. Several recent cases have demonstrated their essential role in shedding light on operators’ decisions that run counter to the objectives of the law.

While it is true that the bill would oblige the new Digital Safety Commission to protect the identity of those reporting observations, the same cannot be said of operators’ employees, who would have to request anonymity while specifying what could put them at risk, Martin-Bartieau said.

An employee who is unfamiliar with surveillance techniques could put themself at risk, as the bill does not provide for protection from reprisals by the employer, he said. In addition, there are no exceptions to provisions of the Criminal Code protecting trade secrets, or to non-disclosure agreements. Employees thus run the risk of criminal or civil prosecution.

CCA expert panel member Emily Laidlaw, in an op-ed co-authored with Taylor Owen in The Globe and Mail, wrote that proposed Online Harms Act has “the building blocks of a good law” and “gets the big things right.”

However, the proposed legislation would benefit from greater debate around the types of platforms that should be regulated, and how to strike a balance “between legislative clarity, parliamentary oversight and responsive regulation,” they said.

Bill C-63 includes large social-media services and live-streaming or pornography sites that allow users to upload content. But it does not include private messaging services, gaming and search engines.

These are platforms that have facilitated tremendous harm as well, but their inclusion would create thorny rights problems, such as the risk of breaking encryption and incentivizing surveillance, Laidlaw and Owen said.

In terms of what obligations should be detailed in the legislation, and which should be left to regulation, hearing in committee from international regulators who are already implementing such requirements might provide greater clarity, they said.

Bill C-63 also should include some mandatory consideration for protecting users’ fundamental rights – not just harm reduction – which would bring the proposed legislation more in line with the European Union and Britain’s approaches, Laidlaw and Owen said.

Laidlaw is a Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity Law at the University of Calgary. Owen is the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communication at McGill University.

CCA expert panel member Heidi Tworek, in an article co-authored with Chris Tenove in Tech Policy Press, provided a list of outstanding questions about Bill C-63.

“The Act, and the government’s promotion of it, clearly focus on the protection of children,” they wrote. Among the outstanding questions they listed are:

  • Will the public and expert community come to support the bill or turn against it? Some already say it gets the big things right, and even high-profile criticsof the previous bill call the new one an improvement.
  • How will the big social media platforms react? Meta has said it “will look forward to collaborating with lawmakers” regarding the act, a marked improvement over the bad blood created by Canada’s recent Online News Act, which prompted Meta to permanently remove news availability for Canadian users.
  • Did Canada’s approach of melding aspects of the U.K., EU, and Australian legislation with some particular Canadian elements work?

“It’s too soon to predict the final shape and fate of this bill,” Tworek and Tenove said. “But Canada’s approach shows how democratic efforts at platform regulation are shifting from take-downs to transparency and responsibility.”

Tworek is the director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a Canada Research, and an associate professor of international history and policy at University of British Columbia. Tenove is the deputy director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions. CCA: Various sources


Federal government is $14 billion behind in rolling out committed climate funding, says Corporate Knights report

The federal government is at least $14 billion behind in rolling out the climate-related funding it has committed to spending by now, according to a report by Toronto-based media and research company Corporate Knights.

Since 2015, there has been a 30-per-cent shortfall between what the government has committed to spending on climate and what it has actually invested, says the report, by Corporate Knights’ Climate Dollars initiative. “It’s critical to close this climate-investment gap in order to close the emissions-reduction gap,” the firm says.

Corporate Knights calculated, based on tracking 67 climate investment commitments made by Ottawa since 2015, that there was $48.6 billion in budgeted climate commitments from fiscal year 20205/16 to fiscal year 2023/24. However, only $34.3 billion of this money was actually disbursed through FY 2023/24, with $14.3 billion in commitments either behind schedule or unspent, according to its report.

Corporate Knights said its report is the first-ever cross-departmental, quantitative, in-depth inventory  of federal climate commitments and actual spending.

“With this report, Corporate Knights has given us a valuable and readable scorecard that highlights federal government initiatives to address climate change across departments and policy instruments. What was promised? What has been delivered?” writes Kevin Page, the president of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy and former parliamentary budget officer, in the inaugural Climate Dollars report, Committed and Actual Federal Government Climate Spending.

“We need this information to assess, debate and adjust our collective plans to reduce carbon emissions,” Page said.

Corporate Knights noted that to document the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – the single largest investment in climate and energy in U.S. history – the White House has published an interactive map that illustrates the levels of investment in the climate transition across the country.

In addition, a research team from Rhodium Group and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created the Clean Investment Monitor, which provides real-time tracking of all public and private investments in emission-reducing technologies in the United States.

“Without this same level of public reporting and research, the knowledge gap in Canada looms large,” Corporate Knights said.

The company’s previous research showed it will require about $126 billion per year in Canada, including public and private investment, to meet the country’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions-reduction  target.

The Climate Dollars report and its inventory of climate spending looked across government departments, agencies, sectors and types of investments to track the climate-investment announcements, re-announcements and actual expenditures the federal government has made since 2015.

“Our research shows that direct federal spending has thus far been the largest source of the government’s funding for climate solutions, followed by loans and equity investments, and then tax expenditures and refundable tax credits,” wrote Jessica Carradine, project lead on the Climate Dollars initiative.

Going forward, tax expenditures and credits are set to become the largest form of public climate spending, she noted.

Budget 2023 took an approach geared to compete with the IRA’s investment package and outlined five major investment tax credits: hydrogen; carbon capture, utilization and storage; clean technology; clean technology manufacturing; and clean electricity.

Among the 67 federal climate commitments tracked, 10 programs that contribute $11 billion to the $14.3-billion funding shortfall are:

  • Zero Emission Transit Fund: Only $4.44 million has been disbursed to recipients out of $1.65 budgeted to be spent by the end of FY 3023-24.
  • Canada Infrastructure Bank: The corporation has invested 85 per cent of the $13.7 billion it had planned to invest by the end of FY 2024, leaving a funding shortfall of $1.5 billion to reach the FY 2024 target.
  • Canada Greener Homes Loan: To stay on track to provide $4.4 billion in zero-interest loans over five years, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Canada Greener Homes program would have needed to approve upwards of $2.6 billion in loans by FY 2023/24. As of February 2024, $1.2 billion had been approved to go to homeowners –$1.4 billion short of the target.
  • Green and Inclusive Community Buildings (GICB) Program: The full $1.5-billion envelope for this program was scheduled to be disbursed by the end of FY 2023-24. Only $151.9 million has actually been disbursed to recipients, while $873.6 million has been announced for projects under the GICB, but this money hasn’t been disbursed.
  • Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF): DMAF has disbursed $535 million of the $1.5 billion that should have been disbursed by the end of FY 2023/24 for the program to stay on track to distribute the full $4 billion it hs been allocated.
  • Canada Greener Homes Grant: Only $700 million in grants had been disbursed as of February 20254, while $1.6 billion in grants was budgeted to be disbursed by the end of FY 2023/24.
  • Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF): Based on data from the public funding accounts, the SIF has consistently underspent on the funds it has been allocated since SIF was established in 2017. The total funding shortfall for SIF is $907 million.
  • Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF): $684 million was budgeted to be spent via the NSCSF by the end of FY 2023/24, but only $83 million has been disbursed. So only 12 per cent of the money allocated for the fund has actually been disbursed.
  • Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF): Budget 2016 announced that $3.4 billion would be disbursed via the PTIF by the end of FY 2018/19. However, as of the end of FY 2023/24, only $2.88 billion has been disbursed.
  • Low Carbon Economy Fund: $1.9 billion has been spent of the $2.3 billion that was budgeted to be disbursed through the LCEF by the end of FY 2023/24 – leaving a funding shortfall of $450 million.

“Federal government commitments to climate solutions total about $187 billion, most of which has yet to be spent, and much of which is not budgeted to be spent until after 2030, the year by which Canada has pledged to have its greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 440 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is about a third lower than current emission levels,” the Corporate Knights report says.

According to the report, federal government climate disbursements have averaged $4 billion per year over the past decade, but must rapidly increase to more than $15 billion per year if the commitments the government has made are to be realized. Corporate Knights


Expert tackle health myths perpetuated by online information

Fifty-nine per cent of Canadians were very or extremely concerned about any type of misinformation online, according to a 2023 survey by Statistics Canada.

The survey also found that 43 per cent of Canadians felt it was getting harder to decipher online truth from fiction compared with three years earlier.

Misinformation relating to COVID-19 and limited vaccine uptake cost at least 2,800 lives and the health care system $300 million in extended hospital stays and intensive care unit visits between March and November 2021, according to a 2023 report by the Council of Canadian Academies.

This misinformation contributed to vaccine hesitancy for 2.35 million people in Canada during that period, the CCA expert panel’s report said.

A Canadian Medical Association survey found that most Canadians believe that the majority of health information they receive – from friends, family, social media and other sources – is likely to be false, according to a story in Healthy Debate.

One study found that more than 40 per cent of posts about liver disease on TikTok were inaccurate, and contained links to fad diets, detox drinks and herbal remedies.

Another study on the prevalence of health misinformation on social media highlighted that health-related misinformation was most prevalent on X, with drug-related misinformation the most pervasive, followed by misinformation on vaccines and diseases.

Measles outbreaks have “exploded in Europe” with a 45-fold increase last year due in large part to declining trust in vaccines. Now similar outbreaks are happening across Canada. Misleading health information on social media platforms has also been linked with increased disordered eating patterns and unsafe sexual health practices.

Healthy Debate polled a panel of experts on what they see as the most pervasive misinformation in their specialty. Here are some of their responses:

“I think it’s important to recognize that often the goal of ‘misinformation mongers’ is to create distrust in institutions, which makes room for more misinformation,” said Timothy Caufield, author and professor of Healthy Law and Science Policy at the University of Alberta. “We’re seeing increasing distrust of science, scientists and health-care institutions, and that’s the direct result of the spreading of misinformation.”

“The idea that we need to get sick to develop a proper immune system is completely false. There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest this,” said Sabina Vohra-Miller, founder of Unambiguous Science and Doctor of Public Health Student at Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “If experts really felt that infections were good for your immune system, then we wouldn’t spend the time, money and resources to develop vaccines.”

The most pervasive piece of health-related misinformation is the belief that decisions about your health are yours alone to make and that there is no valid basis for others (including the government) to interfere with your health decision-making, said Dr. Maxwell Smith, PhD, assistant professor and Western Research Chair in Public Health Ethics at Western University.

“Unlike noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, where you have free rein to take risks to your health so long as you are personally willing to accept the consequences, decisions about communicable diseases cannot rest solely on your personal risk tolerance,” Smith said. “In fact, beyond impacting other people’s health, the freedom to behave however you’d like can reduce other people’s freedom, too, for example, by making them ill or by creating risks that foreclose certain activities.”

It is a myth that “COVID is mild,” said Dr. Heather Hanwell, PhD, director and spokesperson for Ontario School Safety.

“Every COVID infection can harm us even if acute symptoms are mild or absent,” she said. “For example, COVID can damage blood vessels and affect everywhere blood flows in the body. After COVID, it can be harder for our bodies to fight off infections.”

COVID infections also increase the risk of many serious problems like heart attacks, brain damage and even Type 1 diabetes and long COVID in kids, Hanwell said.

“The only way to prevent long COVID is to prevent infection. To do that, we need public health education campaigns that teach people both that COVID is not mild and that it spreads through the air.” Healthy Debate


Pathways Alliance oilsands coalition actively engaged in “net-zero greenwashing,” study says

A study that evaluated the Pathways Alliance oilsands coalition’s advertising and public relations campaign found several indicators of “net-zero greenwashing,” according to the study by Canadian and U.S. researchers.

Greenwashing is defined as “the dissemination of false or deceptive information regarding an organization's environmental strategies, goals, motivations, and actions.”

The researchers, whose study included examining Pathways Alliance documents spanning a two-year period, said they identified “instances of selective disclosure and omission, misalignment of claim and action, displacement of responsibility, non-credible claims, specious comparisons, nonstandard accounting, and inadequate reporting.”

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, included researchers at Rutgers University in the U.S., the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University. The researchers examined documents obtained through federal Access to Information and Privacy requests, as well as news databases, public-facing media sites and internet archives.

 In June 2021, Alberta’s six largest oilsands companies – together constituting 95 per cent of Canada’s oilsands production – formed Pathways Alliance. The alliance’s members are Canadian Natural, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, Imperial Oil, MEG, and Suncor Energy.

“In addition to extensive lobbying of Canadian politicians, the organization launched a massive advertising and public relations campaign that has blanketed Canadian media with claims that the oil sands will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” according to the study.

Pathways Alliance says it plans to build a $16.5-billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) network, including a 400-km CO2 transportation pipeline, to capture CO2 emissions from 20 oilsands facilities and permanently store the greenhouse gas underground.

According to the study, the evidence of rampant greenwashing in ESG (environmental, social and governance) and net zero claims has encouraged calls for mandatory, standardized, and verified disclosures of information.

In addition, it says, researchers have grown concerned with net-zero as a form of climate delay, whereby oil and gas companies slow the pace of climate action via “policy-focused discourses that exploit contemporary discussions on what action should be taken, how fast, who bears responsibility and where costs and benefits should be allocated.”

 The study found that “The most consistent indicator of greenwashing is Pathways' repeated failure to account publicly for all emissions.”

Pathways indicates its plan includes reducing currentoil sands greenhouse emissions by about 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year by 2030 towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. “Yet, the metric tons emitted annually by Alliance members are omitted” from any Pathways documents, and there’s no reference to a baseline amount of CO2e that Pathways’ net-zero plan is intended to reduce by 2050, the study says.

“Pathways often fails to acknowledge its net-zero plan covers only a small percentage of oil sands emissions (across all three “scopes,” or category of GHG emissions) or that these emissions might have increased since the launch of their net-zero plan,” it says.

“Scope” refers to a commonly accepted categorization of GHG emissions: Scope 1 emissions originate from sources owned or controlled by an organization; Scope 2 emissions are from the energy consumed; and Scope 3 emissions indirectly result from an organization as part of its business model or supply and value chains.

The costs of Pathways’ net-zero plan are never stated, nor are the parties responsible for these costs identified, according to the study. “It is not made clear that the cost of the plan's first phase, which is projected at $16.5 billion for the CCS project and $24.1 billion in total, “is a fraction of its total costs and contingent on vast sums of government support.”

In most cases, while the oilsands sector represents itself as willing to spend vast amounts of money on their net-zero plan, they have not actually committed to spending this money or acknowledged that most of what they propose to spend is government money, the study notes. “No instance in our sample communicates the expected cost of the plan across all phases or how much public funding (tax credits, grants) is needed for their plan to be viable.”

Pathways does not acknowledge that several of its members face charges of misrepresentation, the study says. A lawsuit in Colorado holds that two Pathways members, Suncor and Exxon (the majority owner of Imperial), have “knowingly and substantially contributed to the climate crisis by producing, promoting and selling a substantial portion of the fossil fuels that are causing and exacerbating climate change while concealing and misrepresenting the dangers associated with their intended use.”

Pathways states that the collaborative efforts of oil sands companies are “entirely focused on improving our sector’s environmental performance,” which the study says “is a claim that is untrue given the coalition's extensive public relations and lobbying efforts.”

An early Pathways document also claimed a track record for “clean technology investment,” citing $10 billion spent between 2012 and 2021, some of which helped the industry reduce the carbon-intensity (emissions per barrel of oil produced) of production.

“This technique of aggregating projects across the sector makes verification difficult and is characteristic of greenwashing,” the study says. Claiming reductions in the carbon intensity of oil production as clean technology development is questionable, especially if oilsands production remains more heavily polluted than some conventional sources of oil, it says.

The viability of Pathways’ net-zero plan depends on a regulatory and co-financing framework that “privileges the needs of the oilsands sector and insists that government maintain the continued viability of the sector during the energy transition,” according to the study.

This not only attempts to make end users of oilsands products responsible for Scope 3 emissions, it makes government responsible for most of the costs and risks of a CCS project that is unproven at the projected scale, the study says. “In this way, Pathways appears to transfer the risks of its business model (and the costs of sustaining it) onto the people of Canada. The lack of a climate risk assessment of its plan is notable in this context.”

The categorization of spending (research and technology investments) to improve the emissions intensity profile of oilsands production as an investment in clean technology “is not credible,” given that many conventional oil fields may have better carbon intensity profiles, the study says. “This form of greenwashing is sometimes referred to as misleading by omission, insofar as a minor aspect of one's business is misrepresented as characteristic of a company's activities.”

One response by Canada’s oilsands industry and its supporters has been to characterize Canadian oil as more “ethical,” “friendly,” or morally superior to foreign sources of oil, the study notes. “This reframing of the oil sands displaces concerns with the product's climate impacts through specious association with Canada's political stability, economic growth, and human rights record.”

There are also problems with the way Pathways reports its score on environmental, social and governance performance, according to the study. Rather than use standard metrics used by other countries, Pathways “reports an aggregated score for top reserve holders,” and evaluates oil production based on the country of origin rather than the activities of its producers, the study says. “Pathways selectively reports the result of an irrelevant ranking methodology, while ignoring available data and authoritative rating systems in wide use.”

Pathways hasn’t denied findings by a peer-reviewed study that showed oilsands emissions are likely undercounted, the study says. “The organization fails to engage with the actual evidence of underreported emissions and instead seeks to shift responsibility to government bodies, generate doubt, and discredit scientific findings with a press release.”

The study concludes that “There are numerous indicators of greenwashing in Pathways Alliance's public communication. Their messaging omits important information, uses misleading framing and comparisons, and fails to meet standards expected of a credible net-zero plan.” Energy Research and Social Science

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Vancouver-based InMed Pharmaceuticals announced the addition of Dr. David G. Morgan, a leader in neurogenerative disease, to the company’s scientific advisory board. InMed is engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of rare cannabinoids and proprietary cannabinoid analogs. Morgan is director of the Alzheimer’s Alliance and MSU Foundation Professor of Translational Neuroscience at Michigan State University. His joining InMed’s board appointment reinforces the company’s commitment to advancing its INM-901 program in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the company said. InMed Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Susan Skone, PhD, professor of geomatics engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering and associate vice-president (research) at the University of Calgary, was recognized by the Institute of Navigation (ION). The non-profit professional society advancing the art and science of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) inducted Skone as an ION Fellow. It is the organization’s highest honour for members who have made outstanding sustained contributions to PNT. Skone was  elected for “her sustained contributions to the advancement of geospace studies using global navigation satellite systems and related subjects, and for her selfless service to the broader community,” ION said. Skone is a co-lead on the Space-Defence Technologies Alberta project through Alberta’s Major Innovation Fund. University of Calgary

Toronto-based WonderFi Technologies Inc., which operates regulated crypto trading platforms and other digital assets businesses, appointed Jaime Leverton and Noel Biderman to the board of directors. WonderFi also appointed current director Bobby Halpern as chairman of the board. Leverton most recently served as CEO at Hut 8 Mining Corp., one of the largest publicly traded bitcoin mining companies. Biderman currently serves as co-founder of Avenue Insights, which provides predictive analysis to U.S. and Canadian law firms. Halpern, who has served as a WonderFi board member since July 2023, is principal of Toronto-based Halpern & Co., which led the private buy-out of Bitbuy in early 2018 prior to WonderFi’s acquisition of the platform in 2022. WonderFi directors Christopher Marsh and Nicholas Thadaney stepped down as directors, effective April 16th, 2024. WonderFi

Mahdi Hamidi, professor of mechanical engineering at University of Alberta, has shown that tiny “actuators” – essentially robots so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye – can be built with carbon nanotubes, each five nanometres or 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, laid on a silicon wafer. The entire structure can be as small as five microns, or one-twentieth the width of a human hair. It’s activated by an electric charge prompting it to move in a predetermined way, say bending or opening and closing, to fulfil a specific application. “You can simply send an electric signal, for example, and an electrochemical reaction happens around the surface of the micro-actuator, resulting in swelling used to open and close its open end,” Hamidi said. Hamidi published his study in the journal Advanced Materials. Beyond medical applications – where microrobots, for example, may one day be used non-invasively to conduct a colonoscopy, pelvic exam or blood test – Hamidi says other researchers are considering how they might be used for water purification, swimming through a body of water to scavenge for pollutants, or in the oil and gas industry to detect flaws in pipelines. Hamidi is also exploring how to attach nano-scale computer chips to his actuators, and even working on minuscule batteries with just enough charge to get the job done on any given mission. University of Alberta

University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher Matthew Mitchell, a landscape ecologist in the faculties of Forestry and Land and Food Systems, sheds light on the link between diminishing numbers of wild pollinators and reduced farm productivity, in a study in the journal Environmental Research Letters. In Canada, wild pollinators aid in pollinating crops that generate an annual farm income of nearly $2.8 billion and produce calories and nutrients that could feed the equivalent of around 24 million people (although not all these crops are directly consumed by people, as some go to livestock). Mitchell, collaborating with colleagues at the Nature Conservancy Canada, analyzed publicly available data on crops, farm income and nearby pollinator habitats such as forests, wetlands and grasslands, to estimate the potential food production and farm income that could be gained if wild pollination was increased. In Saskatchewan and Alberta, the two provinces most affected by lack of pollinator habitat near croplands, increasing wild pollinator habitat and populations could potentially increase food production by the equivalent of 11.5 million and 4.3 million people fed, respectively, and increase farm income by approximately $1.6 billion for Saskatchewan and $597 million for Alberta, the researchers found. If addressed, targeted increases in wild pollinator habitat in Canada could help provide additional nutrition for an equivalent of 30 million people annually and increase farmer income by up to $3 billion every year, Mitchell said. UBC

Sheep farmer Jennifer Osborn has partnered with Brock University researchers to determine the effectiveness of wool as a natural soil enhancer. Osborn launched a business, EcoWool Canada, that markets the fibre as a potential natural fertilizer. To get data to validate her product, Osborn turned to Brock University, which is a member of the Ontario-based Greenhouse Technology Network. Professor of biology Liette Vasseur and assistant professor of chemistry Vaughn Mangal are working with Osborn to determine the effectiveness of EcoWool’s pellets as a soil amendment to improve soil health, fertility and crop performance. Research shows wool contains carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur, which are among the elements that boost soil quality. Wool provides further benefit by aerating the soil, retaining moisture, improving water infiltration and reducing erosion. To test EcoWool’s wool pellets, Vasseur and Mangal are growing spinach, sweet peppers, marigolds, basil and yellow beans in pots containing either pellets, conventional fertilizers or nothing added to the soil at all. After harvesting the crops, the researchers will use sophisticated instruments at the Brock-Niagara Validation, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute to measure organic carbon and nitrogen quantity and quality of soil and water samples. Thorold Today




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