Colleges and Institutes Canada , Independent Electricity System Operator , Statistics Canada , 4AG Robotics, Abegweit First Nation, Accurate Industries (Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation) , Ada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, AKA Energy Systems, Alberta Investment Management Corp., All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance, ALS Society of Canada, Arcfield Canada, AtkinsRéalis, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp., B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food , BDC Capital, Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation , BMI Group , Boeing, Bombardier, Borden Ladner Gervais , Brain Canada, Business Council of Canada, Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. , Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Canada’s Semiconductor Council, Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, Canadian Wheat Research Coalition, Canva, Cap Inclusive, Celesta Capital , Cenovus Energy Inc., Certn, CHAR Technologies, Clean Economy Fund, Clio, Cognito, Cohere, Cube Business Media, Dalhousie University, Department of National Defence, Department of National Defence, Diversio , Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec, Eastward Energy , Employment and Social Development Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Export Development Canada, Facebook, Ferme La Rose des Vents , Finance Canada, First Nations Major Projects Coalition , First Nations University , Fisheries and Oceans Canada, FlightHub, Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation , Fort Nelson First Nation, Fortinet , Frontier Lithium Inc. , Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd., Global Indigenous Development Trust , Global Partnerships Initiative , Google, Government of Alberta, Government of Australia, Government of British Columbia, Government of Canada, Government of Manitoba, Government of Nova Scotia, Government of Ontario, Government of Prince Edward Island, Impact Canada, InBC, Infrastructure Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Innovative BC, Insurance Bureau of Canada , Intellectual Property Ontario, International Union of Geological Sciences , Keewatin Tribal Council, KKR, KU Leuven (Belgium), Kyra Inc. , Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc., Life House, Lithium Americas (Argentina) Corp., Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation, Magneto Investments Limited Partnership , Maple Leaf Foods, McGill University, McMaster University, MD Applications , MDA Space, MDF Commerce, MedReddie, Meta Platforms Inc., Ministries of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Ministry of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Miovision, Mitsubishi Corporation , National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, National Bank of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Nimble Science, Nordest, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, NorthStar Earth & Space Inc. , Ocean Decade Collaborative Centre for the Northeast Pacific , Ontraccr Technologies, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pathways Alliance, PayShepherd, Pegasus, Pembina Institute, Quantum Industry Canada, Region of Durham , Research Canada, Rock Tech Lithium Inc. , Rogers Communications Inc., Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resources Centre of Excellence , Saudi Space Agency , Shaft Sinking Engineered Products Ltd., Shopify, SkyAcres, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, SRG Mining Inc. , StormFisher Hydrogen , Support Our Science, Taalas Inc. , Task Force for Housing & Climate, Technologies Ecofixe , Telus Corp., Tentree, Tomorrow’s Legends, Traffic Technology Services , Tula Foundation, U15 Canada, UMass Chan Medical School (USA), Université de Montréal, Université Laval, University of Alberta, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo, and York University



The Short Report: March 13, 2024

Research Money
March 13, 2024


Finance Canada announced that Chrystia Freeland (photo at right), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, will present Budget 2024 in the House of Commons on Tuesday April 16, 2024, at approximately 4 p.m. ET. Freeland has said that housing construction, affordability and employment are priorities for the budget. The Business Council of Canada is calling for a budget that “cultivates the conditions for economic growth,” including: avoid new net spending; do a comprehensive review of federal programs; reevaluate “ill-advised regulations;” improve the impact assessment and permitting processes for major projects; and establish a national Indigenous loan program. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is urging the government to focus on growth driven by the private sector, including with no new taxes, regulatory reform, dismantling of interprovincial trade barriers, committing to long-term investment through a Canada Trade Infrastructure Plan, and targeted support for struggling SMEs. Research Canada, U15 Canada, and Support Our Science (which represents Canadian academic researchers), are calling for increased funding for the Tri-Council agencies and for graduate scholarships and post-doc fellowships. Colleges and Institutes Canada is looking for a $2.6-billion investment over three years in a new Student Housing Loan and Grant Program. Canada’s Semiconductor Council is recommending the government implement a Pan-Canadian Semiconductor Strategy and establish a Semiconductor Supply Resiliency Fund. Finance Canada

The Department of National Defence (DND) has awarded a $211.6-million five-year contract (with five subsequent one-year options) to Calgary-based Arcfield Canada, to maintain the country’s fleet of CF-18 fighter jets. Arcfield Canada will continue to support the CF-18 fleet’s avionics weapons system and supply parts as needed. The company will provide end-to-end supply chain services related to these parts including planning, purchasing, warehouse management and repair of spare parts. Arcfield Canada will also ensure, through engineering and technical services, that repairs can be executed effectively in the field, and that the users and maintainers of the CF-18 will have access to the fully maintained technical publications they require to execute their mission. DND said the investment will help ensure that Canada’s fighter fleet remains interoperable with that of our allies, meets civil/military aviation regulations, and effectively fulfills operational commitments primarily with North American Air Defence Command and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – until the permanent replacement fighter fleet of F-35 jets which is expected to be fully operational in 2032. DND

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) announced a call for proposals under the new Sustainable Jobs Training Fund (SJTF), with an allocated investment of just over $99 million over four years. A second call for proposals will be launched in late June this year under the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy. These two new funding streams will support tens of thousands of workers across the country with a range of training projects to upgrade or gain new skills for jobs in the low-carbon economy. The SJTF is a new targeted fund that will support a range of training projects. Not-for-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, Indigenous organizations, and provincial or territorial governments are eligible to apply for funding under this call for proposals. Eligible projects for the SJTF must focus on at least one of three areas – low-carbon energy and carbon management, green building and retrofits, and electric vehicle maintenance and charging infrastructure. Organizations have until May 15, 2024, to apply for funding. The new Sustainable Jobs stream of the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy’s Union Training and Innovation Program will support unions in developing green skills training for workers in the trades. ESDC

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) announced more than $28.9 million over four years for 15 projects that will help approximately 6,400 women get the apprenticeship training and support they need to enter the skilled trades workforce. Funded under the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy’s Women in the Skilled Trades Initiative, these projects will recruit and retain women apprentices in 39 eligible Red Seal trades found predominantly in the construction and manufacturing sectors. The initiative includes more than $1.5 million in funding to the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society for its Immigrant Women Trades Apprenticeship project. This project will support 120 newcomer women apprentices from equity-deserving groups in securing sustainable, rewarding and long-term employment in British Columbia’s carpentry, construction, craft working, construction electrical, plumbing and welding trades. ESDC

The Government of British Columbia plans to launch an Indigenous loan-guarantee program backstopped by up to $1 billion in government funds, embracing a model already operating in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The First Nations Equity Financing Framework, announced in the provincial NDP government’s annual budget, would include a special account set up with a $10-million inaugural balance and a cumulative loan guarantee limit of $1 billion, to be reviewed each year. The program marks a significant policy shift and bodes well for future projects, said Niilo Edwards, chief executive officer of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC), a Vancouver-based group that has lobbied the B.C. and federal governments to provide Indigenous loan guarantees. B.C.’s new loan-guarantee program, which is subject to legislative approval, follows years of reports that have flagged access to capital as a significant barrier to economic development for Indigenous peoples in Canada. In a 2023 report, FNMPC listed several projects that feature First Nations ownership, including the Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal Project in B.C., led by Fort Nelson First Nation, and the Chatham to Lakeshore Transmission Project in Ontario, a Hydro One project in which a group of five First Nations has an option to acquire a 50-per-cent stake. These and 12 other major projects in which FNMPC members are pursuing equity stakes amount to nearly $55 billion in capital costs, the report said, highlighting the need for loan guarantees. The federal government said in its fall economic statement last November that details on its Indigenous loan-guarantee program would come in Budget 2024. The Globe and Mail

The Government of Alberta is investing $20 million in grant programming to support graduates who are creating new technologies. The Innovation Catalyst Grant (ICG) program promotes collaboration between post-secondary institutions and industry to help its participants develop skills, talent and partnerships to attract investment and commercialize research. The funding will support graduates from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in post-secondaries to pursue entrepreneurship, develop business skills and commercialize innovative technologies. The ICG program provides two years of funding for participants to develop their startup companies. Govt. of Alberta

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced $16.7 million for a project by Ontario’s power grid operator that will strengthen its electricity grid operations. Federal funding for the project will specifically help the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in the province to increase the number and diversity of clean energy resources that can participate in delivering electricity in Ontario, which will give Ontario households and businesses greater access to more reliable, cost-effective and clean options to meet rising demand. Some improvements that will be made possible through this federal funding include:

  • Providing the IESO’s control centre with real-time data on the state of charge of battery storage facilities, so that electricity system operators are aware of how much stored energy is available at any given moment.
  • Enabling aggregators to consolidate smaller resources in different cities and communities around Ontario to collectively bid into Ontario’s electricity markets.
  • Allowing supply as small as 100 kilowatts in Ontario’s electricity markets (such as a manufacturing plant’s roof-top solar array).  

Funding for this project is provided through the federal Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program, which is supporting smart renewable energy, energy storage and electrical grid modernization projects across the country. NRCan

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced an investment of $15 million to support six clean fuels projects across Canada, including $10 million for two projects in the Niagara region. The investments, through NRCan’s Clean Fuels Fund, include:

  • $4.6 million to StormFisher Hydrogen to support a front-end engineering (FEED) study for a renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility at BMI’s Multimodal Hub in Thorold, Ontario.  Upon completion of the FEED study in the summer of 2025 and construction of the planned $200-million low-carbon fuel production facility in 2027, StormFisher Hydrogen will combine renewable electricity from Ontario’s clean grid along with biogenic carbon dioxide emissions from local industry to produce 1.25 million gigajoules of RNG and decarbonize16,000 homes and businesses in Ontario. 
  • More than $5 million to CHAR Technologies to support FEED studies that will enable CHAR to replicate their first-of-its-kind woody-biomass-to-renewable-energy facility in Thorold, Ontario and in other parts of Canada. Supported by an existing investment of $5 million from NRCan, CHAR is finalizing construction of its clean fuels production facility at BMI’s Multimodal Hub in Thorold, which will convert woody biomass to renewable energy like RNG and biocarbon. The new NRCan funding will enable CHAR Technologies to replicate this work at four new facilities in Kirkland Lake, Ontario; in Drayton Valley, Alberta; and in Saint Félicien and La Sarre, Quebec, and create a distributed network of low-carbon fuels production facilities across three provinces in Canada.
  • $5 million to support Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp. in delivering a FEED study to support the construction and operation of a sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) production facility in Port Colborne, Ontario. The FEED study is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and the construction of the planned facility would be commenced immediately following a positive final investment decision. The planned processing facility in Port Colborne will leverage Canada’s agricultural sector to produce SAF that will meet the growing demand to help reduce emissions from the aviation sector. NRCan

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced more than $15 million in projects to increase Indigenous participation and support the development of Canada’s critical minerals sector. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, also announced at the 2024 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention, the launch of the first call for proposals for Indigenous grants under the Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund (CMIF). The first call for proposals will provide up to $3.5 million in federal funding available to support Indigenous engagement, knowledge sharing and capacity building related to clean energy and transportation projects to enable critical minerals development. Overall, the CMIF Indigenous grant stream will provide $13.5 million in funding and run until March 31, 2030. NRCan

To support Indigenous communities in seizing the economic opportunities presented by sustainably sourced mineral resources, the Government of Canada will be funding seven mining projects representing over $10.4 million under the Indigenous Natural Resource Partnerships (INRP) program. Activities funded through these projects include capacity- building initiatives, support for the development of partnership programs, conducting key feasibility studies, expanding skills training and advancing important infrastructure projects. Recipients of the INRP funding include:

  • Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation – $1,974,675
  • Global Indigenous Development Trust – $2,408,543
  • Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resources Centre of Excellence – $4,500,000
  • Accurate Industries (Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation) – $234,467
  • Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation – $688,998
  • Keewatin Tribal Council – $324,432
  • Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation – $352,500

The Government of Canada also provided $4.49 million to Magneto Investments Limited Partnership through the Critical Minerals Research Development and Demonstration Program. This funding will go toward new and innovative technologies and processes that will help increase the supply of battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulphate, which are essential to developing a secure and sustainable domestic electric vehicle value chain. Magneto’s project will support Canada in participating directly in the growing market of battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulphate domestically, instead of shipping concentrate overseas to feed the stainless-steel industry. NRCan

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced up to $11.2 million for the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition. Funding is provided through the AgriScience Program - Clusters Component, an initiative under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Cluster aims to drive innovation in Canadian wheat production, while ensuring profitability and sustainability. Among other research activities, the Cluster will explore best management practices and new genomics tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate breeding, and increase wheat production resilience in response to evolving threats like pests and diseases associated with climate change. The Canadian wheat sector produces about four per cent of the world’s total supply of wheat and durum and accounts for about 13 per cent of total volume of world exports. AAFC

The Government of Ontario is providing more than $3.7 million to 11 mining supply and service sector companies in Northern Ontario. This investment, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, is promoting innovation, workplace safety, business development and job creation in the mining industry. The funding includes $250,000 for Sudbury-based Shaft Sinking Engineered Products Ltd., to develop and test a mucking machine that will automate the development of mine shafts and shaft stations, making mining operations safer and more economical. Govt. of Ontario

The Government of Manitoba is providing $3.3 million to 15 mineral development projects through the Manitoba Mineral Development Fund. The $3.3 million in conditionally approved funding will result in more than $37 million in total capital project investment to support mineral exploration activities, drill programs and supporting community engagement. Several of the projects involve critical minerals such as lithium and nickel, used in EV batteries and other applications. Manitoba, which has 29 of the 31 minerals on Canada’s critical minerals list, is developing a critical minerals strategy. Govt. of Manitoba

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) announced $2.5 million to enhance the Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and create the Indigenous Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Program enhancements, to be delivered in partnership with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, will help further break down barriers for Indigenous women to start up and scale up their own businesses, ISED said. This investment will help up to 2,400 Indigenous women entrepreneurs access the resources they need for their businesses. The Indigenous Youth Entrepreneurship Program will expand leadership development opportunities for Indigenous youth entrepreneurs and help develop resources with the needs of young business owners in mind. Canada is home to more than 50,000 Indigenous-owned businesses across this country that contribute billions to Canada’s GDP annually. ISED

Infrastructure Canada announced an investment of more than $2.1 million for Tomorrow’s Legends, a non-profit organization based in Sydney, Nova Scotia, to convert a former hockey arena to a solar-powered, multisport facility. The project will provide a state-of-the-art, indoor sports facility for community members and athletes in Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The former Centennial Arena will be retrofitted with rooftop solar panels and a new exterior, creating a sustainable, energy-efficient, net-zero carbon facility. These improvements are expected to reduce the facility’s fuel consumption by an estimated 104 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 620 tonnes. The upgraded facility will include indoor playing surfaces for basketball, volleyball, pickleball and other indoor activities, as well as a community meeting space, and cultural and hall of fame exhibits. Infrastructure Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a $1.95-million investment under the Global Partnerships Initiative to contribute to the existing Climate Smart Mining Initiative (CSM), which will advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The CSM aims to decarbonize and reduce the material footprint of minerals needed for the clean energy transition, particularly in resource-rich developing countries. This initiative aligns with the objectives of the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy and will allow Canada to influence and introduce new areas of programming that align with Canadian decarbonization goals, NRCan said. In particular, the investment builds on Canada’s strengths in critical minerals sector innovation, clean technology adoption and clean metals. NRCan

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a federal investment, through the Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program, of $1.8 million to the Region of Durham to install 174 electric vehicle chargers across the region. The chargers are expected to be installed by November 2025. Before hitting the roads, Canadians can easily map out their route by consulting NRCan's Electric Charging and Alternative Fuelling Station Locator. To help drivers make the switch, the federal government is supporting the deployment of a coast-to-coast-to-coast network of charging stations along highways and in communities’ public places, on-street, in multi-use residential buildings, at workplaces and for vehicle fleets. To date, federal investments are helping to deploy over 47,000 EV chargers across the country. NRCan

The Tula Foundation’s Ocean Decade Collaborative Centre for the Northeast Pacific announced 11 proposals selected for funding under the Climate Ready B.C. Seafood program. The $1.7-million program from B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food aims to enhance understanding of ocean acidification and hypoxia in British Columba and support the resilience of B.C.’s coastal food security. Over the next two years, the Climate Ready B.C. Seafood program will deliver targeted funding across four priority program areas outlined in the B.C. OAH Action Plan. Ocean Decade

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced more than $1.5 million to support eight innovative projects for businesses and community organizations in Eastern Prince Edward Island. The Government of Prince Edward Island is also contributing more than $900,000 toward five of the eight projects. Among the recipients is AKA Energy Systems, a world-leading advanced manufacturing company based in Montague, P.E.I. AKA’s novel technology is improving fuel efficiency and reliability in the marine industry. Another recipient, Abegweit First Nation, will receive support to develop a five-year energy strategy. The First Nation has seen substantial growth in recent years and the community’s energy requirements are increasing. The plan will identify potential partnerships and opportunities in climate technology, clean energy, renewable energy and transitional fuels. ACOA

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced repayable contributions totalling nearly $1.4 million for four women‑owned businesses. This  support will make it possible to boost their growth by improving performance and productivity, including through the acquisition of equipment. The businesses are:

  • Nordest, a Hautes‑Laurentides SME specializes in the processing and sale of food products from Quebec (meat, poultry, ready‑to‑eat meals). The $700,000 repayable contribution will make it possible for Nordest to build a food processing plant in the new Mont‑Laurier industrial park and acquire digital and automated equipment.
  • Ferme La Rose des Vents is a family business in Mont-Laurier that specializes in poultry production and processing. The $300,000 repayable contribution will enable the business, among other things, to expand its plant and acquire automated equipment.
  • Technologies Ecofixe has developed two innovative systems for the biological treatment of wastewater that considerably improve the performance of existing water purification facilities. The $200,000 repayable contribution will enable the Blainville SME to, among other things, acquire equipment and launch a marketing strategy in the U.S.
  • Kyra Inc. specializes in the creation, manufacture, and installation of custom‑made kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The $195,042 repayable contribution will enable the Sainte‑Adèle SME to acquire two robots to automate its sanding and painting tasks. CED

The Government of Alberta is providing $900,000 to the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to hire drone services for aerial assessments of crops. Deploying drones to collect high-definition imagery is a practical, cost-effective way to assess damage while increasing efficiency in processing claims for producers, the government said. Govt. of Alberta

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced up to $476,742 over the next two years for York University’s YSpace, an innovation hub supporting startups and entrepreneurs. The funding will support the new Food & Beverage Accelerator program that aims to build and implement specialized tools and resources to support the unique challenges faced by underrepresented groups in the consumer-packaged goods and agri-food sector. YSpace will be leveraging its expertise from both ELLA, which provides dedicated programming for women entrepreneurs, and the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance, which provides specialized streams for Black entrepreneurs to better engage with communities. This investment was provided through the AgriDiversity Program, an initiative under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. AAFC

A request from First Nations University (FNU) for $25 million, under Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings (GISB) program, to build a new campus in Prince Albert, B.C., has been declined by Infrastructure Canada. The funding request, submitted in February 2023, would have addressed the need for space for community events and elders. Jackie Ottmann, FNU president said she was “disappointed” by the decision, but that the university is working with the government on solutions, including plans to fundraise $5.5 million. This was FNU’s second submission to the GISB program, after the first request was turned down. The 12-member nation Prince Albert Grand Council chiefs recently passed a resolution endorsing the campus’s construction. Prince Albert Daily Herald


California-headquartered cybersecurity and data firm Fortinet is investing $30 million to build a state-of-the-art data centre in downtown Calgary. The investment – supported by $3 million from the Government of Alberta’s Investment and Growth Fund – is expected to add an estimated 85 permanent and 80 temporary jobs in addition to the company’s existing 50 positions in Alberta. Fortinet’s expansion will include a training centre for cybersecurity training and a centre of excellence focused on keeping critical infrastructure and operational technologies safe. Fortinet already is a partner with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the University of Alberta, and the Northern Alberta institute of Technology. Calgary Economic Development

Montreal-based AtkinsRéalis (previously the SNC-Lavalin Group), a project management company that includes a nuclear technology products business, and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, a federal Crown corporation, have signed a memorandum of understanding to deploy CANDU® reactors in Canada and internationally and to expand the two organizations’ intellectual property licensing agreement. The collaboration and licensing agreements to follow this MOU will accelerate the development of CANDU reactor technology, including the previously announced CANDU MONARK™ reactor, at a critical time during the energy transition. If built, the 1,000-megawatt Monark would be the largest-ever variant of Canada’s CANDU reactors, although it is in early development and would require regulatory approval and a buyer before construction. When the IP property licensing agreement was initially signed in 2011, transitioning to a low-carbon world was not a consideration; the expanded agreement will reflect the changing priorities and the organizations’ belief in the role that CANDU technology will play in decarbonizing Canada and the world. The vast majority of CANDU components, fuel and services are sourced domestically and more than 85 per cent of a CANDU reactor’s equipment and parts can be supplied by Canadian manufacturers, the partners noted. AtkinsRéalis

Longueuil, Quebec-based digital commerce firm MDF Commerce Inc. announced an agreement to be acquired by New York-based KKR, a global equity firm, for $5.80 per share – representing a premium of about 58 per cent and total equity value of $255 million, the companies said. MDF, which has about 650 employees based in Canada and the U.S., would become a privately held company and remain headquartered in Quebec following the acquisition. MDF's board of directors has unanimously endorsed the deal, but it still needs approval by shareholders. MDF had two rounds of layoffs last spring, citing “macroeconomic conditions and shifting client priorities.” MDF Commerce

Kitchener, Ontario-based Miovision, which develops software and hardware for cities to remotely manage and track their traffic networks, acquired Beaverton, Oregon-based Traffic Technology Services (TTS), which provides connected vehicles technologies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, although Miovision said it financed the acquisition in part thanks to debt financing provided by Export Development Canada. TTS provides the connection to traffic infrastructure such as Audi Traffic Light Information, a first-of-its-kind, innovative offering that assists vehicle operators to identify optimum speeds to avoid red lights and reduce fuel consumption, as well as allowing customers to spend time more productively knowing when a red light will turn green. Included in the acquisition are TTS’s 11 patents, covering applications relevant to improving transit and emergency vehicle response as well as traffic signal optimization. The acquisition is Miovision’s sixth in less than three years. Miovision

Amid warnings from Ottawa about Chinese investment in Canadian critical minerals mining companies, Vancouver-based Lithium Americas (Argentina) Corp. announced an agreement with China-based Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd. for Ganfeng to acquire a US$70-million stake via shares in Lithium Americas’ subsidiary Proyecto Pastos Grandes, which holds the Pastos Grande project in Salta, Argentina. Ganfeng, one of the world’s biggest lithium producers, has the right to acquire up to 50 per cent of the Argentine lithium project for an additional US$330 million in the event of a change in control of Lithium Argentina. The federal government under the Investment Canada Act has the power to review and ultimately block foreign investments into Canadian companies, if such investments are believed to be a threat to national security. SRG Mining Inc. last week called off its financing deal with a privately held company in China after Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne admonished the Montreal-based graphite company for trying to skirt a national security review by attempting to redomicile to the United Arab Emirates. The Globe and Mail, Lithium Americas

Sudbury, Ontario-based Frontier Lithium Inc. announced an agreement with Mitsubishi Corporation to establish a joint venture partnership for the PAK Lithium Project mine in northwestern Ontario and planned lithium chemicals conversion facility. Mitsubishi will acquire an initial 7.5-per-cent interest in the project for $25 million. Upon completion of the definitive feasibility study, Mitsubishi will have the right to increase its interest in the joint venture to 25 per cent through the purchase of additional shares at a price based on the net value of the project as shown in the definitive feasibility study, Additionally, Frontier and Mitsubishi will work closely together to pursue project financing to fund the development capital costs of the project. Frontier will be the operator of the project. Frontier Lithium

Toronto-based Rock Tech Lithium Inc. and BMI Group in Tillsonburg, Ontario, announced an agreement to enter into a long-term lease agreement for the location of Ontario’s first lithium refinery, or converter – the former Norampac Paper Mill site in Red Rock. BMI is providing a $5.5-million investment into the project. Rock Tech selected the site, about 110 km northeast of Thunder Bay, following a comprehensive site-assessment project. Rock Tech’s 100-per-cent owned Georgia Lake mining project is located about 60 km north of Red Rock. The lithium convertor would produce lithium hydroxide for electric vehicle batteries. Rock Tech developed Europe’s first lithium converter in Germany, investing $60 million in the Guben Lithium Converter. Rock Tech Lithium

Brampton, Ontario-based MDA Ltd. announced it has rebranded to MDA Space, to position the company to lead in a new era of space innovation. The global space economy is accelerating and scaling at a rapid rate, growing to $509 billion in 2023 and projected to become a $1.5-trillion industry by 2040. MDA Space’s expanding operational footprint and rapidly growing workforce now numbers 3,000 space engineers, scientists, technicians, and business leaders across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. The company’s space technologies include: new software-defined satellite product for digital constellations; CHORUS, a fourth-generation Earth observation constellation; and commercial space robotics for a variety of missions. MDA Space

Montreal-based NorthStar Earth & Space Inc. signed an agreement with the Saudi Space Agency to advance the global reach of Northstar’s commercial space-based “Space Situational Awareness” services capabilities to the Middle East, including improving resident space object tracking. The partnership supports the growth of Saudi Arabia’s space industry and will explore opportunities for a Centre of Excellence for Space Situational Awareness in the country. Focus will be directed toward sustainability of the space environment using state-of-the-art object tracking systems, including sensing technologies such as optical, radar, and radio frequency systems together with advanced analytics. The partners will also consider possible collaboration in the manufacturing of satellites to enhance space situational awareness and space traffic management. Northstar also will explore the potential for a business presence in Saudi Arabia. NorthStar Earth & Space

Montreal-based MD Applications and its EZResus technology won the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) and Impact Canada’s two-year Deep Space Healthcare Challenge competition. The company will receive $500,000 in grant funding as the grand prize winner. EZResus is an application that streamlines the information needed by emergency personnel in the critical first hour of resuscitation, from diagnosis to required drug dosage and equipment. During the final demonstration to the competition’s jury, the team proved how complex calculations and interventions can become increasingly challenging under the pressure of a life-threatening situation. The Deep Space Healthcare Challenge was created to support healthcare needs of astronauts in space, as well as people living in remote communities. CSA

Canada will host the 2024 All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA) Forum in Ottawa from October 8 to 10, 2024. The forum will bring together representatives from the Atlantic community, including AAORIA partners like Argentina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, the European Union, Morocco, Norway, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. The forum will focus on opportunities for collaborative science, including coordinating efforts on ocean observation and increasing our understanding of the relationship between ocean and climate. Diane Lebouthillier, Ministries of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, also announced the release of Canada’s Oceans Now: Atlantic Ecosystems, 2022The report, prepared by Fisheries and Oceans Canada with contributions from Environment and Climate Change Canada, provides an overview of the state of Canada’s Atlantic Ocean. Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) and Brain Canada announced the eight recipients of the 2023 Discovery Grants, with a total investment of $1.35 million. The ALS Canada-Brain Canada Discovery Grants provide the research community with crucial funding for projects focused on identifying causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for treatments for ALS or related neurological diseases, and avenues to maximize function, minimize disability and optimize the quality of life for people and their families living with ALS. The Discovery Grant recipients are selected following a rigorous peer-reviewed grant competition that engages an international panel of experts to choose the best work grounded in scientific excellence and with the potential to advance the field of ALS research quickly. The eight recipients are:

  • Mahsa Dadar, McGill University, in collaboration with Dr. Sanjay Kalra, University of Alberta, awarded $125,000.
  • Jean-Pierre Julien, Université Laval, in collaboration with Dr. Angela Genge, McGill University, awarded $125,000.
  • Dale Martin, University of Waterloo, in collaboration with Dr. Max Rousseaux, University of Ottawa, and Dr. Christine Vande Velde, Université de Montréal, awarded $125,000.
  • Alex Parker, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Guy Rouleau, McGill University, awarded $125,000.
  • Chantelle Sephton, Université Laval, in collaboration with Dr. Liang Li, University of Alberta, awarded $125,000.
  • Valerie Sim, University of Alberta, in collaboration with Dr. Sumit Das, UAlberta and Dr. Sanjay Kalra, UAlberta, awarded $125,000.
  • Richard Robitaille, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Sandrine Da Cruz, KU Leuven (Belgium), and Dr. Danielle Arbour, Université de Montréal, awarded $300,000.
  • Christine Vande Velde, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Watts, UMass Chan Medical School (USA), awarded $300,000, in partnership with Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québecand Brain Canada. ALS Canada

Three Canadian tech startup companies founded by women are among 15 women-led businesses selected to participate in the 2024 Google for Startups Accelerators: Women Founders cohort. The 10-week equity-free program brings the best of Google’s programs, products, people and technology to help women-led tech startups scale and grow their business. Startups receive mentorship, technical project support, and workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition and leadership development. Each accelerator also offers a cohort of peers building high potential startups who support one another with shared learnings, insights and opportunities. Over the past four years, Google for Startup Accelerators has worked with 47 women-led startups across North America, which have collectively raised US$93.22 million since graduating from their cohorts. The three Canadian startups in the 2024 cohort are:

  • MedReddie, based in Waterloo, Ontario, is an innovative business-to-business, software-as-a-service health tech AI company, using its large language model system to transform health care supply chains.
  • Nimble Science, based in Calgary, is a global collaborator in delivering actionable intelligence from the gastrointesintial tract to improve health outcomes.
  • SkyAcres, based in Surrey, B.C., is connecting fruit and vegetable growers to commercial buyers through its marketplace. It allows anyone with under-utilized residential or commercial space to grow and sell produce, empowered by its proprietary indoor farming hardware. Google

The Government of Nova Scotia released a new critical minerals strategy to help advance the province’s transition to net-zero emissions and grow the economy. The strategy includes a list of 16 critical minerals found in Nova Scotia. The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Renewables engaged with stakeholders and the Mi’kmaq to develop the strategy. It focuses on  innovation, research and development, opportunities for Nova Scotians and Mi’kmaw partnerships, and enhancing public awareness. The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables will develop action plans annually as part of the strategy, review the critical minerals list every two years and revisit the strategy every five years. Govt. of Nova Scotia


Toronto-based Taalas Inc. announced it has exited “stealth mode” and raised $50 million over two rounds of funding led by Pierre Lamond and Quiet Capital. Deploying artificial intelligence requires a thousand-fold improvement in computational power, and implementing deep learning models in silicon is the straightest path to sustainable AI, said Ljubisa Bajic, Taalas’ CEO and the founder of Tenstorrent, which builds computers designed to train and run AI models. Taalas is developing an automated flow for rapidly implementing all types of deep learning models in silicon – specialized chips that can each run different AI models. Proprietary innovations enable one of its chips to hold an entire large AI model without requiring external memory. The efficiency of hard-wired computation enables a single chip to outperform a small GPU data center, opening the way to a thousand-fold improvement in the cost of AI, Taalas said. The company is developing its first large language model chip in the third quarter of 2024 and planning to make it available to early customers in the first quarter of 2025. Taalas

Calgary-based PayShepherd raised $7 million in a seed funding round for its vendor relationship management platform designed for heavy industry firms. The all-equity round was led by Inovia Capital, with participation from existing investors Nashville Capital Network, Thin Air Labs, Accelerate Fund III (which is managed by Yaletown Partners with support from A100), as well as undisclosed strategic angel investors. The PayShepherd platform automates contract compliance, centralizing, digitizing and verifying all submissions on labor, equipment and materials. It provides full control of spend, contract compliance, real-time visibility into incurred costs, predictive budget monitoring and enhanced vendor relationships. PayShepherd will use the funding to expand the company’s presence in its target markets in North America: forestry, mining, manufacturing and energy. PYMNTS

Victoria, B.C.-based Cognito, which offers a virtual mental health care platform, raised $2 million in seed financing from investors including StandUp Ventures, Garage Capital, Graphite Ventures, Spring Impact Capital, and Simplex Ventures. Cognito’s platform combines cognitive behavioural therapy and support with access to medication and an integrated care team. Initially, Cognito is focused on the treatment of anxiety, depression, insomnia and ADHD. The funding will be used to launch Cognito’s mental health services in Ontario, and expand partnerships with insurers, businesses and government partners seeking to offer mental health support. A recent Statistics Canada survey found that in 2022, there were more than five million people in Canada experiencing significant symptoms of mental illness and not all needs for counselling and psychotherapy services are being met. Cognito

Vancouver-based Ontraccr Technologies, a construction management software provider, has secured $1.2 million in a seed funding round. The all-equity round included  participation from strategic investors including LAB Ventures and Buildtech Ventures, venture capital firms specializing in construction and property technology. Additionally, undisclosed industry executives contributed to the round. Ontraccer’s platform encompasses a comprehensive suite of tools ranging from project management, billing, and time tracking to operations and analytics. The company said it will use the funding to enhance its platform and facilitate expansion into additional industry segments, with a particular focus on penetrating the U.S. market. The SaaS News

McMaster University and Celesta Capital announced a new partnership to spur development of an emerging and sustainable ecosystem of Canadian deep tech entrepreneurs. The collaboration will foster innovation at McMaster, support McMaster-affiliated startups and researchers in commercializing their intellectual property, and facilitate increased interactions and opportunities between the technology and venture capital hubs of Canada, Silicon Valley, India, and beyond. The partnership will advance the commercialization of deep tech – cutting-edge technologies built upon advanced science and engineering innovations. Key initiatives and areas of collaboration will include:

  • Access to Emerging Companies: Close engagement with McMaster's researchers and entrepreneurs working in relevant tech sectors, including potential investment opportunities and partnerships with Celesta’s existing portfolio of companies. 
  • Pitch Competition with Access to Capital: Celesta representatives to serve as judges at McMaster’s start-up pitch competitions, mentoring these entrepreneurs and opening doors to additional potential investment opportunities.
  • McMaster Entrepreneurship Academy (MEA): Celesta representatives to serve on the MEA Advisory Council and provide mentorship to MEA fellows working to establish and grow startup companies.
  • Ecosystem Development: Celesta will connect researchers, tech industry leaders and venture investors through bi-annual “Industry Summits” at McMaster designed to enhance the commercial viability of research and startup projects, particularly in the energy, cleantech, and life sciences sectors.
  • IP Strategy: Celesta’s bench of technical commercialization experts will assist the McMaster Industry Liaison Office in navigating IP procedures, maximizing startup competitive differentiation, and advising on invention optimization.

The first wave of activities in the partnership will include the joint judging of an April 2024 pitch competition at McMaster, followed by an entrepreneurship residency in Silicon Valley for MEA fellows and a co-hosted advisory summit for McMaster researchers and entrepreneurs focused on intellectual property development. McMaster University

Progress slow for women in business leadership, while Canadian VCs struggle with diversity, equity and inclusion

Women held only about 35 per cent of management positions across Canada in 2023, putting the country behind nearly half of all OECD countries, according to a report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Women occupied 30 per cent of senior management positions and 21 per cent of board director seats. And they represented just 19 per cent of entrepreneurs. 

“If recent trends continue at their present pace, women in Canada won’t reach equal representation until 2129,” the report says.

Despite women’s real wages having grown almost twice as fast as men’s between 1997 and 2023, women in management positions still earn less than men. In 2023, women made 88 cents to the dollar relative to men in the same occupations – up from 80 cents in 1997, “but still severely lagging.”

There are some bright spots: women have achieved representation parity in six of the 19 management occupations analyzed, and in Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces, women are on track to achieve equality before the end of the century.

Of the three middle management categories considered, the biggest representation gains for women were in “specialized” middle management (which includes healthcare, education and public administration) up from 34 per cent in 1987 to 48 per cent in 2023. However, progress across the other middle management occupations has been glacial, with growth of only three  percentage points or less over the period 1987 to 2023.

The share of women board directors increased by only three percentage points between 2016 and 2020, resulting in a “dismal showing” of 21 per cent of all positions. No province or territory has reached parity, although there’s considerable variation across jurisdictions.

The report’s recommendations for Canadian businesses and non-profits include:


  • Examine job descriptions to ensure they don’t inadvertently discourage women from applying.
  • Expand candidate pools through internal mobility, alternative recruiting channels and remote roles to reduce geographic limitations.
  • Track hiring outcomes to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion within the hiring process.


  • Strive for equal pay in the workplace by re-examining job classifications annually.
  • Provide upskilling and mentorship resources to support professional development for women seeking promotions.
  • Unlock the potential of flexible and hybrid work to support workforce mental health and workers with young children.
  • Track retention outcomes to identify and resolve challenges.


  • Recognize and reward women leaders for their achievements.
  • Track outcomes to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion within the promotion process.
  • Hold senior leaders accountable for advancing diversity goals by tying metrics.

For governments and public sector employers, the report recommends:

  • Lead by example on flexible and hybrid work to model parent-friendly workplaces for the Canadian private sector.
  • Hold senior leaders accountable for advancing diversity goals by tying metrics to their performance reviews and incentives.
  • Address parental leave gaps for women entrepreneurs.
  • Consider altering the Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) lending practices to better reach women and other intersectional entrepreneurs in the community.
  • Improve awareness of supportive funding and services available through BDC and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Meanwhile, Canadian venture capital firms are struggling to retain the women and visible minorities they hire, said Roxanne Leduc, a Canadian Women in VC (CWVC) board member and founder and CEO of Cap Inclusive, a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultancy. Amid challenging VC market conditions, creating an environment where every person feels comfortable to work and grow free from exclusion, biases, discrimination, and harassment has been deprioritized, Leduc told BetaKit.

Last November, CWVC released its fifth annual survey on compensation in Canada’s VC industry. The 2023 report, based on 190 responses from women and men, offers insight into the progress that VC funds have made towards creating a more diverse and equitable industry, and the issues that remain such as inclusion and parental leave.

BDC Capital’s first national DEI reporting survey found that while Canadian VC firms have been making progress on the DEI front by recruiting and promoting more women and visible minorities, they have faced issues keeping them. Cap Inclusive’s research and a 2022 report from the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and Diversio survey found Canadian VC firms are failing when it comes to inclusion. The CVCA-Diversio survey found women partners are six times more likely than men to report harassment or feel their opinions are not valued. The survey also found that women working in the VC industry are 3.5 times more likely than men to feel like no one has invested in their career growth.

Many VC firms still lack diversity at decision-making levels, according to a 2023 BDC Capital report and other research. Cap Inclusive found that the most common friction points for women in VC included problems with career advancement, networking, gender representation, mentorship opportunities and firm culture. However, the most prevalent concern among women in VC is work-life balance, including how to have kids while working in the industry.

Last year, CWVC co-published a parental leave template with the CVCA and Borden Ladner Gervais and made it available for free to all VC firms in Canada, but the organization has been disappointed by the uptake so far.

To recognize International Women’s Day, BetaKit published a list of resources, programs and organizations for women entrepreneurs. Canadian Chamber of Commerce, BetaKit


Canadian business leaders call for pension funds to “invest in Canada”

More than 90 top Canadian business leaders and CEOs, representing some of Canada’s largest companies, have signed an open letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and her provincial counterparts, urging them to change investment rules for pension funds to “encourage them to invest in Canada.”

The letter, published as an advertisement in major Canadian newspapers on March 6, included signatories who come from industries that include auto parts, oil and gas, airlines, telecommunications, banking and grocery retail. Signatories included: Rogers Communications Inc. CEO Tony Staffieri; CEO Darren Entwistle of Telus Corp.; Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. CEO Dan Daviau; CEO Eric Martel of Bombardier; and executive chair Michael McCain of Maple Leaf Foods. Of the current CEOs of the country’s six largest banks, National Bank of Canada’s Laurent Ferreira was the only one to add his name to the letter.

“Canada has great companies, true global champions. These competitive businesses deserve our support and we must create many more,” the letter said. “Increasing investments in Canada should be a national priority.”

The letter was organized by Peter Letko and Daniel Brosseau, co-founders of Montreal-based fund manager Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc.

Canadian pension funds hold roughly one-third of the country’s institutional capital, but they have cut their holdings of publicly traded companies to just four per cent of assets, from 28 per cent in 2000, according to the letter. The executives stopped short of making specific recommendations on how to change the rules by which pensions are governed.

Canada’s major pension funds invest broadly in Canada, with about 25 per cent of their assets in the country, on average. But the majority of these investments are in real estate, infrastructure and fixed income, rather than publicly traded stocks.

Canadian pension funds once faced strict limits on how much they could invest in foreign assets, but most of those restrictions were lifted nearly 20 years ago. Alongside that, most of the largest public pension managers have shifted more of their capital toward private equity, private credit and infrastructure and away from publicly traded stocks.

In the government’s economic statement in November, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland proposed measures to require large, federally-regulated pension plans to disclose more information about where they invest, and to consult with pensions “to create an environment that encourages and identifies more opportunities for investments in Canada by pension funds.”

But Michel Leduc, the global head of public affairs and communications at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, told The Globe and Mail that pensions funds “are pension liabilities. They’re not institutional savings.”

“The fund exists for one reason: To help maintain the financial sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan. There is absolutely no carve-out for other goals identified by the business community,” he said.

Leduc warned against governments making a “premature jump” to create new policies aimed at steering more pension fund investment to Canada, saying policy makers need to look at the root economic causes of the decline in Canadian productivity, and consider a range of policy options.

Evan Siddall, CEO of Alberta Investment Management Corp., which manages public pensions in the province said in an op-ed responding to the open letter that the approach outlined in the government’s fall economic statement “asks pensioners to foot the bill for Ottawa’s failure to promote Canadian economic growth and productivity.”

But Aidan Gomez, CEO of Cohere, said in a post on X: “Nice to see the largest Canadian enterprises coming out to call out [Canadian] sovereign wealth funds for generally contributing minimally to domestic development.” Many major funds “don’t believe in the Canadian players,” and instead finance foreign competitors, Gomez said.

Tobi Lütke, CEO of Shopify, said in a post on X that too many government innovation programs are available to “poorly executing companies. That misdirects attention and resources away from making great products. We call these The Walking SR&ED.” Canada’s innovation policy puts “too much emphasis on IP and not enough on execution and commercialization,” he wrote. No incentives should be available to companies that fail to export, Lütke said. BNN Bloomberg, The Globe and Mail


Meta Platforms calls for amendments to federal Bill C-27, the prosed Artificial Intelligence and Data Act

Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook’s parent company, is calling for amendments to the federal government's Bill C-27, the proposed Artificial Intelligence and Data Act. In a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, which is reviewing Bill C-27, Meta requests that Ottawa tighten the definition of “high-impact” AI systems.

The high-impact categories should be tailored to risk, and include only those uses that present a uniform level of risk, such as those possibly producing legal or similarly significant effects, Meta said. The proposed classification of social media content moderation and prioritization systems as “high impact” is misguided, and represents an outlier in the field of both AI and content regulation, the company said.

The existing definition of high-impact AI systems in Bill C-27 “would steer the bill away from its initial risk-based foundation and lead to an overinclusion of AI systems with severe consequences for innovation, preventing Canada from fostering AI development, protection expression, and maintaining competitiveness in the global marketplace,” Meta said.

Meta also wants general purpose AI (GPAI) definitions to reflect the way AI systems operate in practice, and for the government to defer further GPAI provisions to future regulations developed with multi-stakeholder collaboration “where requirements can be shaped to be technically feasible and appropriately placed on the actor best positioned to comply with them.”

Several proposed provisions in Bill C-27 “set forth detailed, prescriptive obligations that are infeasible, not appropriately tailored, and misaligned in their objectives,” Meta said. International consensus is still developing related to the best way to approach technical requirements  for GPAI, which could be significant to the creation of a GPAI framework in Canada that is interoperable with other jurisdictions, the company said. The GPAI regime proposed in Bill C-27 doesn’t reflect the more risk-specific and tailored approach incorporated by other internationally regulatory frameworks, Meta said.

Meta also wants Ottawa to remove altogether the proposed AI and Data Commissioners’ (AIDC) audit and remote search powers from Bill C-27. “The audit provisions ar e an unprecedented measure that are not necessary or proportionate for the purposes of this legislation.” In particular, the company said, the remote access authority proposed for the AIDC presents a “concerning breadth of authority” with risks to the privacy of user data, as well as security vulnerabilities and possible exposure of proprietary information.

Meta also is seeking additional clarity to the definition of “artificial intelligence systems.” The definition of AI systems remains overbroad and susceptible to capturing any software, the company said. Meta suggested adopting a definition that revolves around software that is machine based and able to learn over time, which the company said aligns with globally accepted definitions that are already applied across industry.

Finally, Meta is asking that, to encourage and incentivize Canadian innovation, AI systems and models developed exclusively for research and scientific development, as well as open source license AI systems and models, be identified in Bill C-27 as being explicitly excluded from the Act and its requirements. Meta’s Llama 2 GPAI large language model is open-sourced and available for free for research and commercial use. Meta Platforms Inc.


Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces to increase AI technology deployment, funding and training

Artificial intelligence holds enormous potential for Canada’s defence, the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) say in a newly released Artificial Intelligence Strategy. AI-enabled capabilities can allow DND/CAF to improve the accuracy of intelligence, targeting, situational awareness and decision making, while enabling logistic and corporate efficiencies and improving services, the strategy says. “We must work to build and leverage a defence and security AI ecosystem.”

To achieve these gains, however, DND/CAF must put in place the necessary environments, data management practices and guardrails to ensure that AI is safe, ethical, inclusive, legal and trusted, according to the strategy. “We must manage change so as to support innovation and ensure that our personnel, both now and in the future, have the training and skills that they need to implement AI initiatives successfully.”

The AI Strategy lays out the vision for the adoption and implementation of AI and related algorithmic technologies within the Defence Team, including  five "lines of effort" to achieve that vision. This is needed to set the forward direction, to align expectations for DND/CAF at the enterprise level, and focus thought, effort and purpose towards this common goal. The five lines of effort are:

Fielding and Employing AI Capabilities – DND/CAF must quickly build the internal expertise and experience to assess, advise, field and manage AI tools and applications for operations and the business of defence. DND/CAF must also provide collaborative mechanisms to support the use of AI during operations, whether the technology originates within DND/CAF or is shared with us by allies or partners. To do this, an internal DND/CAF AI Centre will be established – as the U.S., Australia and U.K. have already done – as a hub of expertise and an accelerator for experimentation, testing, evaluation and fielding AI. DND/CAF will develop governance for AI to align resources and goals.

Change Management – To adopt AI, DND/CAF must embrace digital transformation, learn to work horizontally, embrace disruption and adapt continuously. To do this, decision authorities for AI will be vested at the lowest appropriate level, to encourage innovation. Also, DND/CAF must commit to fund the technical, digital, and data enablers and the research, engagement, and staff AI requires. These enablers must be costed and those costs built into program and project planning and development from the inception. 

Ethics, Safety and Trust – DND/CAF will ensure that any new AI or AI-enabled technology is developed and implemented in accordance with applicable Canadian and international laws, and Canadian policies and guidelines. A set of AI principles, risk frameworks and operating practices will be developed, to embed best practices into the entire AI life cycle.

Talent and Training – “DND/CAF recruitment, retention, training and deployment are not yet equal to this challenge. Overall levels of data literacy are low, AI skills are scarce and personnel with AI knowledge are in short supply.” Priority AI workforce training requirements must be identified and curricula developed or procured to meet them.  DND/CAF will explore and identify processes to recruit and retain AI talent, and to use it where it is needed.

Partnerships: DND/CAF will reinforce strategic partnerships and cooperation with allies on new AI capabilities, best practice, and lesson learned. This includes furthering strategic collaboration with the Five Eyes, TTCP, and NATO, but also deepening bilateral cooperation with trusted nations on specific areas of common interest. DND/CAF will continue to work with Public Services and Procurement Canada to identify the specific requirements and opportunities to simplify and accelerate procurement processes. DND/CAF also will enhance connections with academia to encourage skill development in support of defence requirements, and further develop and foster the innovation ecosystem for defence and security in partnership with the Pan-Canadian Innovation Ecosystem in AI. 

DND/CAF’s new Digital Transformation Office will develop a staged implementation plan with timelines, milestones and performance indicators. It will also develop a governance model and accountabilities and responsibilities framework for AI to ensure that the implementation itself is successful and well-governed. DND/CAF


Feds not providing enough financial support for oilsands’ alliance CCS project, Cenovus Energy says

Oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. criticized the federal government for not providing enough financial support for the oilsands industry’s proposed $16.5-billion Pathways Alliance carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

The federal government has proposed tax credits covering about half of the capital costs for the project, and Alberta has offered a 12-per-cent subsidy. Canada has also said operating costs for the project can be supported with contracts that guarantee a carbon price high enough to make the system profitable. But those incentives have been accompanied by plans for a cap on the Canadian oil and gas industry’s emissions, which energy producers have criticized and said creates policy uncertainty. 

“With what we know today . . . the government funding partnerships in Canada are not enough for large-scale CCS to proceed in the oilsands,” Rhona DelFrari, Cenovus’s chief sustainability officer, said in an investor day presentation in Toronto. “Canada is employing a complex, multi-layered and evolving stick-based approach with some carrots thrown in. Our closest neighbor to the south is using a straightforward carrot approach that’s far more attractive for CCS projects.”

“Without competitive fiscal incentives, our country risks being left out as large-scale emissions reduction investments are developed and deployed elsewhere where they get the best returns,” DelFrari said.

Six of Canada’s largest oilsands producers have banded together as the Pathways Alliance to propose a CCS project that would help cut emissions from operations by 22 million tonnes by 2030 and help them become carbon neutral by 2050. The submission of regulatory documents for the project is “imminent,” but the draft tax credit regulations lack clarity, and companies need to better understand how the carbon price guarantees will work, DelFrari said.

DelFrari’s comments come after Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, met virtually with the Pathways Alliance and also said in an interview with the Calgary Herald that he wants more action and less advertising about Pathways Alliance’s plan, and he urged them “to start to show actual progress on the ground.” BNN Bloomberg


Independent task force recommends 140 actions for governments to address Canada’s housing and climate crises

To build 5.8 million new homes by 2030 and restore housing affordability, the federal government needs to tie all future housing, infrastructure and transit funding to provincial and municipal adoption of higher housing density along with stronger building codes, according to a report by the Task Force for Housing & Climate.

The government needs to develop an innovation strategy to accelerate housing innovations, and overhaul the National Model Building Codes, says the report, Blueprint for More and Better Housing. Canada needs a national approach, through a Pan-Canadian Framework for Housing Growth, that is supported by better data, publicly available climate hazard mapping, and specific housing growth targets for every government, the report says.

The report calls on the federal, provincial and municipal governments to take 140 specific actions that, together, could add 5.8 million homes by 2030 that are affordable, low carbon and resilient to climate impacts.

The task force, co-chaired by former federal Conservative cabinet minister Lisa Raitt and former Edmonton mayor Don Iveson, is backed by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation. The task force’s report identifies four transformative moves that all orders of government need to advance: legalize density, implement better building codes, invest in factory-built housing, and regulate housing growth in areas at high risk of climate impacts. 

The cross-partisan task force is made up of 15 housing experts from across Canada, including former elected officials, mayors and chief planners, Indigenous leaders, designers, builders and developers, affordability advocates, and finance and insurance experts.

According to the task force’s report, Canada’s four goals for building more and better housing should be:

  • MAKE IT LOW-CARBON: Reduce Canada’s housing-related emissions to meet Canada’s 2030 climate targets.
  • MAKE IT RESILIENT: Every home built from 2025 onward should stand up to worsening climate hazards, supporting National Adaptation Strategy goals.
  • MAKE IT AFFORDABLE: Cut the number of households spending more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs to zero by 2031.
  • MAKE IT AT SCALE: Increase the scale and productivity of the homebuilding sector to build 5.8 million homes between 2022 and 2030.

The report says federal funding for infrastructure, transit and housing should be tied to increasing density, including provinces and municipalities eliminating unit maximums on all forms of residential housing (which often prevent the conversion of single-family properties into multiplexes), abolishing parking minimums on residential, commercial and industrial properties, and legalizing the construction of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC) pre-approved designs and adopting ambitious permissions adjacent to transit lines

The recommended new housing innovation strategy should incorporate:

  • Tax reforms, including: eliminating the HST/GST on purpose-built rental projects; increasing the threshold for the HST/GST housing rebate; introducing a Housing Technology Investment Tax Credit; implementing an accelerated capital cost allowance for purpose-built rental construction; and providing a full HST/GST exemption for charitable non-profit organizations.
  • A rebalanced immigration strategy that increases the number of skilled trade workers and exempts skilled trades programs from international student visa caps.
  • A financing strategy that includes low-cost and long-term fixed-rate financing for municipalities to facilitate land acquisition, financing to scale the not-for-profit housing sector, and a fund to build additional student residences across Canada.
  • A procurement strategy for homes in the CHMC's pre-approved catalogue, including guaranteed minimum orders.

Canada’s National Model Building Codes should be overhauled to simplify and harmonize requirements, integrate physical climate resilience measures, and support integration with local building performance standards to reflect changing regional climate risks, the report says. 

            Coordination and evidence-based decision-making should be increased by:

  • Providing detailed annual population forecasts, incorporating policy developments such as changes to immigration targets, which should be used as the basis for housing targets for each order of government, with incentives provided to governments that exceed their annual targets.
  • Mandating the CHMC to develop a Comprehensive Housing Data Repository.
  • Designing and adopting national standards for Building Information Modeling, a Climate Resilience Residential Rating, and Community Resilience, and implementing a Nationwide Hazard Mapping Initiative.

Provincial governments should create a more permissive land use, planning and approvals system for housing, the report says. This includes repealing or overriding municipal policies, zoning or plans that prioritize the preservation of the physical character of neighbourhoods. Provinces also should accelerate innovation in homebuilding, including factory-built housing. This includes creating an investment fund to help companies advance modular housing, low-carbon concrete, mass timber, panelization, and other innovative housing technologies capable of achieving scale, driving down costs, lowering carbon footprints and increasing climate resilience for housing.

Provincial governments also should: set annual housing targets for municipalities and providing incentives to hit those targets; define specific and achievable targets for housing affordability within the province; and create public, universal and free rental registries. Provinces should make publicly accessible and regularly updated climate hazard maps to identify areas of high risk for housing growth, and ensure new housing is not built in areas prone to worsening climate hazards like flooding and wildfires.

Municipal governments should legalize higher density, including by:

  • revising and updating zoning laws to allow the establishment of small-scale retail spaces in residential areas, prioritizing locations that are highly accessible by public transit and conveniently walkable for residents, and waive office space requirements in all downtown building conversions and re-developments.
  • accelerating innovation in homebuilding by encouraging collaboration between local governments, technology companies, research institutions and builders to foster innovation in sustainable construction practices and facilitating local pilot projects and demonstrations of new building technologies and methods, offering platforms for testing and refinement.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), in a statement, applauded the task force’s report, and called for investing in a cost-effective National Flood Insurance Program for households at the highest risk, as well as redesigning government disaster financial assistance programs to incentivize new construction in areas of lower hazard exposure. Celyeste Power, president and CEO of IBC, is a member of the Task Force for Housing & Climate.

Betsy Agar, director of the buildings program at the Pembina Institute policy think tank, said in a statement that the task force report’s recommendations “offer a clear, inclusive and realistic path forward for all governments to meet increasingly pressing needs for swift and focused action.” Clean Economy Fund


Canada and Australia agree to coordinate and promote shared priorities on critical minerals extraction, processing and refining

The Government of Canada and the Government of Australia released a non-legally binding statement aimed at promoting shared priorities related to global critical minerals extraction, processing and refining. The components include:

  • Drive robust ESG efforts: We will advocate for robust environmental, social and governance credentials be built into global critical minerals supply chains through close collaboration in multilateral fora, including International Standards Association, and work bilaterally to support market opportunities for our industry players with strong responsible mining credentials.
  • Drive the development of critical minerals supply chain transparency and traceability to monetize the value proposition for responsibly sourced minerals: We commit to harmonizing and prioritizing critical minerals supply chain transparency and traceability measures, including through the International Energy Agency, to help ensure that global supply chains are guided by fair market practices and underpinned by robust ESG standards.
  • Ensuring that our common values are accurately reflected through multilateral fora to avoid overlap and ensure complementarity: We will closely coordinate our collective approach to critical minerals supply chain security and sustainability at key multilateral fora including the IEA, the Minerals Security Partnership, the Conference on Critical Minerals and Materials and the Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance. 
  • Supporting bilateral mining and service sector trade and investment: We will share our respective approaches to industry growth models for supporting mining supply and services in global markets and collaborate on targeted trade and investment missions.
  • Exploring joint Research and Development (R&D) research exchanges and investment in strategic areas: We will explore opportunities for R&D collaboration across the entire critical minerals supply chain from geoscience and green mining technology, to approaches to mineral processing, and R&D related to battery supply chains, including recovering critical material from waste and sharing REE recycling technology developments to strengthen global REE supply chain resiliency.
  • Commitment to continuing improving engagement with Indigenous peoples: We will share information and best practices related to our shared priority of reconciliation, economic inclusion, shared decision-making and benefit sharing with Indigenous Peoples, highlighting the importance of genuine partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and other communities in the advancement of critical minerals related projects.

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities        

Perrin Beatty, CEO and president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, will leave his position after 17 years when his current contract expires on August 31, 2024. His announcement starts a process of leadership renewal on the cusp of the Chamber’s 100th anniversary in 2025, the Chamber said in a statement. Beatty is the longest-serving of the Canadian Chamber’s presidents. Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The Government of Ontario and the board of directors of Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON) announced the hire of Dr. Dan Herman, PhD, as the first permanent CEO of IPON. Herman has previously held executive positions in both the public and private sector, including as the executive director of innovation policy at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and co-founder of the Centre for Digital Entrepreneurship and Economic Performance. In addition, he has served as a member of IPON’s board of directors, and was previously the Ontario government’s special advisor on the creation of a centralized intellectual property resource and a member of the province’s IP expert panel. Herman takes over from interim CEO Peter Cowan, who left IPON in January to become president and CEO of Innovative BC. IPON

Christopher Cave, who previously worked at Montreal-based online travel agency FlightHub, was named the interim CEO of New York-headquartered hospitality software startup Life House. He replaces CEO and founder Rami Zeidan, who resigned after an article by The Information alleged Life House mismanaged its customers’ hotels and described dissatisfaction among Light House’s customers. Marc Ghobriel was named as Life House’s new interim chief financial officer. Skift

Victoria, B.C.-based Certn appointed Sara Miller Wright as the company’s new president. As Certn continues to expand its footprint, and finalizes the integration of its European subsidiaries, Wright will oversee all global operations and drive the next phase of growth in the company’s mission to deliver the fastest, easiest, and most secure background screening and identity verification platform, the company said. Wright has 20 years of executive leadership experience, including as COO for Manulife Canada, and previously as Shaw Communications Inc.’s senior vice-president of digital technology, product development, & service delivery. Certn

The inaugural INNOVATEwest, April 16 and 17 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, will bring together tech, enterprise and corporate stakeholders, to showcase industry leaders and established and emerging tech firms. Hosted by Cube Business Media, the Vancouver conference and tradeshow company behind Canadian tech events like SAAS NORTH,, and Tech Talent North, INNOVATEwest is expected to draw between 3,000 and 5,000 attendees this year. The lineup of Canadian tech founders includes: Jack Newton of Vancouver-based Clio; Sean O’Connor, head of 4AG Robotics; Derrick Emsley who co-founded Tentree ; and David Hariri, co-founder and chief architect of Ada. Adding to the lineup are influential figures in the tech sector, such as: Jill Earthy, CEO of InBC; Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist at Canva; and Lisa Lambert, recently appointed CEO of Quantum Industry Canada. BetKit

Pegasus, an aerospace company based in Sturgeon County, a municipal district in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, has gotten Boeing’s attention with the Alberta company’s game-changing icing detection technology – called Motion Icing Detection Alert System (MIDAS) – for the aviation industry. MIDAS enables the detection of icing buildup in real time, said Cole Rosentreter, founder and CEO of Pegasus. “This allows us to basically peel and patch onto any surface on an aircraft . . . to give you real time alerts and life-saving warnings at the very early onset of icing conditions,” he said. Icing is one of the biggest hazards and costs for the aviation industry, Rosentreter said. Launched in 2018, Pegasus developed autonomous aircraft to connect people on the front lines of major disasters like wildfires, with real-time information. For the past few years Pegasus has been working on the MIDAS technology with Boeing. The technology has already been installed and is operational on Canada’s CH147 Chinook helicopter fleet. CTV News

University of Alberta researchers have uncovered what they say has been the missing puzzle piece ever since the genetic code was first cracked. The code is the universal set of rules that allow living organisms to follow genetic instructions found in DNA and RNA to build proteins. In newly published research in the journal BMC Biology, the U of A team describes a unifying code that guides the binding of those proteins with lipids to form membranes – the wrapper around all cells and cell components. Their proposed proteolipid code is built from structural insights afforded by new technology and software, said biochemistry professor Michael Overduin, executive director of U of A’s National High Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre. The researchers’ theory describes how membranes are compartmentalized, remodelled and regulated, and provides a basis for understanding fundamental questions such as how life is formed at conception, how viruses invade cells, and how neurons send signals for feeling, thought and action. The proposed proteolipid code could also help with drug development for cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s that are caused by proteins interacting incorrectly with membranes, Overduin said. The research was supported by grants to Overduin from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and the McCullough Innovative Breast Cancer Research Seed Grant, and by an NSERC Undergraduate Student Researcher Award and several University of Oxford student awards to Troy Kervin, a then-undergraduate student in Overduin’s lab and the first author of the paper. Kervin is now pursing a PhD at Oxford University. U of A

Nova Scotia-based Eastward Energy has contributed $200,000 through an in-kind donation to support a new laboratory run by Dalhousie University researcher Dr. Michael Pegg and his team in the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science. The team is investigating low-carbon solutions for Eastward Energy’s natural gas distribution system, including distributing hydrogen-enriched natural gas. Nova Scotia’s Green Hydrogen Action Plan, released last December, lays out guidelines for government and industry to develop green hydrogen. While traditional methods for producing hydrogen use fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases, green hydrogen is produced using renewable electricity and emits only water and heat when converted to electricity. Dalhousie’s new Hydrogen Applications Research Laboratory, which also received support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, will test the limits of blending hydrogen into Eastward Energy’s distribution system as well as the use of hydrogen-enriched natural gas in household appliances. Dalhousie University

An International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) committee of about two dozen scientists has voted down a proposal from a working group of experts to declare the start of the Anthropocene, a newly created epoch of geologic time. By geologists’ current timeline of Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history, our world right now is in the Holocene, which began 11,700 years ago with the most recent retreat of the great glaciers. Amending the chronology to say we had moved on to the Anthropocene would represent an acknowledgment that recent, human-induced changes to geological conditions had been profound enough to bring the Holocene to a close. By the definition that the working group of experts spent nearly a decade and a half debating and crafting, the Anthropocene started in the mid-20th century, when nuclear bomb tests scattered radioactive fallout across our world. To several members of the IUGS committee that considered the group’s proposal in recent weeks, this definition was too limited and too awkwardly recent to be a fitting signpost of Homo sapiens’ reshaping of planet Earth. In the end, the committee voted 12 to four against the Anthropocene proposal, with two abstentions. Another three committee members neither voted nor formally abstained. The New York Times


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