AbCellera, Acadia University, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Utilities Commission , Angel Investors Ontario, Arctic Gateway Group, Avena Foods, Beacon Securities Ltd. , Bench IQ, Big Mountain Foods, Bruce Power, Business Finland, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Infrastructure Bank, Canada Research Coordinating Committee, Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, Canadian Climate Institute, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Space Agency, CarbiCrete, Carbon One New Energy Group , Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, Council of Canadian Innovators, Dalhousie University, Danone Canada, Department of National Defence, Elevated Signals Inc., Environment and Climate Change Canada, EverWind Fuels, Export Development Canada, Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Figure 1, Finance Canada, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada , Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, Global Affairs Canada, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Government of Manitoba, Government of New Brunswick, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Government of Nova Scotia, Government of Ontario, Gradient Spaces, Health Canada, ICSPI , Ideogram, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Institut du Savoir Montfort , Ivenda, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce , McGill University, Mila - Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator, Moderna, Mphasis, Myomar Molecular , Natural Resources Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Nexco Inc. , Nova Scotia Power, Old Dutch , Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Osino Resources Corp. , Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Pacific Economic Development Canada, Pembina Institute, Physician’s Weekly, Power, Prairies Economic Development Canada, Protein Industries Canada, Quantum City, Quantum Technology , QueerTech , RBC, Rural Municipalities of Alberta , SaskEnergy, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, SRG Mining Inc. , Sustainable Marine Energy, TDG Transit Design Group Inc. , The Globe and Mail, The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital), the Organic Federation of Canada , Tidal Energy Task Force, TMX Group Ltd. , Tokidos, University of Alberta, University of Alberta's The China Institute, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Western Ontario, Western University, Women’s Equity La, World Energy GH2 , Wskijinu'k Mtmo'taqnuow Agency Ltd., and Yintai Gold Co. Ltd.


"green" hydrogen production in Newfoundland, 2SLGBTQ+ startup founders in Canada, AI image-generation technology, AI in neuroscientific discovery, AI-powered legal technology, atomic force microscope technology, Canada's deepening growth crisis, Canadian food products for space missions, chances of finding life in the outer solar system, clean tech in fisheries and oceans sector, clean technologies for the mining sector, clinical trial marketplace , community solar program in Nova Scotia, Dimensions pilot project ended, DNA testing and analyses for aquatic invasive species, edtech , facial recognition technology in vending machines, federal draft regulations for petroleum sector airborne pollutants, federal government's second green bond issue, federal support for new EV chargers, First Nations involvement in new battery plants, foreign investment rules for Canada's critical minerals sector, green hydrogen technology in B.C., Health Tech, heat pumps for Newfoundland homes, Hudson Bay Railway, Innovation Solutions budget cut, Investment Canada Act, investment required to achieve Canada's climate goals, Manitoba's Green Advantage strategy, medical news and education, modern manufacturing software, muscle health monitoring device, national security reviews of Chinese investment in Canadian mining firms, New Brunswick hydrogen road map, new mining explosives technology, new mRNA vaccine production facility in Quebec, new nuclear power in Ontario , new plant-based ingredient and food options, new University of Calgary multidisciplinary science hub, no federal carbon rebate for Saskatchewan , qHub at University of Calgary, quantum technologies, regulatory requirements for tidal power projects, restrictions on renewable energy development in Alberta, rules for foreign investment in Canada's interactive digital media sector, spending cuts at ISED, standards for certified organic products, support for early-career health researchers, The $2 Trillion Transition: Canada’s Road to Net Zero (RBC report), tool for validating sustainable agricultural practices, and weatherproof lighting technology

The Short Report: March 6, 2024

Research Money
March 6, 2024


Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced $50 million in federal funding for Bruce Power’s assessment of new generation opportunities at its site in Tiverton, Ontario. This funding, from the Electricity Predevelopment Program, enables exploration of a project that could produce power for up to 4.8 million homes and businesses in Ontario. The project is an important step in building the first large-scale nuclear build in Canada in more than 30 years, NRCan said. The project is part of Powering Ontario’s Growth, the province’s plan to meet growing electricity demand and reduce emissions through Ontario’s clean electricity grid. This project alone represents more than 25 per cent of the new nuclear capacity required for Ontario to meet its clean electricity needs in 2050, as recommended by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathways to Decarbonization Report. Bruce Power will use the federal funding to support project pre-development work, including: the completion of an impact assessment and licence to prepare site application; early engagement activities with local municipalities and Indigenous communities; and technical, environmental and engineering studies and evaluations. (Photo above shows existing Bruce Power nuclear station - Bruce Power photo). NRCan

Global Affairs Canada announced an agreement between Export Development Canada (EDC) and St. John’s, Nfld.-based World Energy GH2 on terms for $128-million credit facility from EDC to support World Energy GH2’s development of Canada’s first commercial-scale “green” hydrogen and ammonia facility in Newfoundland and Labrador. Project Nujioʹqonik (the Mikʹmaw name for Bay St. George) will use more than three gigawatts of renewable energy from wind projects on the west coast of the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. The facility is expected to deliver about 250,000 tonnes per year of hydrogen, using 1.5-gigawatt  electrolyzers. In November 2023, Global Affairs Canada announced an agreement between EDC and EverWind Fuels to support development of EverWind’s clean energy hub, including a hydrogen production facility, in Nova Scotia. Global Affairs Canada

The Government of Alberta’s Budget 2024 announced $55 million over three years for the University of Calgary to build a multidisciplinary science hub to add 1,000 spaces in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. The science hub will relieve growing enrolment demand pressures in the Faculty of Science, UCalgary said. The new facility will house seven teaching and research hubs focused on high-demand program areas vital to Alberta’s STEM talent pipeline: Chemistry Energy Innovation, Energy Pathways, Quantum-NanoTech Chemistry, Health Innovation, Agriculture and Plant Biotechnology, Near-Earth and Space, and Neuroscience hubs. The Alberta government had previously announced $5 million in the 2023 Budget for scoping and pre-planning work on this project.  University of Calgary

Finance Canada announced issuing the federal government’s second green bond, a 10-year, $4-billion green bond. This issuance is the first under Canada’s updated Green Bond Framework, released on November 21, 2023, and which added nuclear energy expenditures as being eligible for the green bond . Canada is the first sovereign borrower to issue a green bond including certain nuclear expenditures, demonstrating Canada’s commitment to being a global nuclear leader, Finance Canada said. Canada’s second green bond offering saw robust demand from environmentally and socially responsible investors who represented a majority of buyers (66 per cent), as well as from international investors, who made up over 33 per cent of the investor base. The final order book stood at over $7.4 billion. Finance Canada

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) and the Government of Manitoba announced a joint investment of up to $60 million in the Arctic Gateway Group. This funding will finish work on the Hudson Bay Railway, start to redevelop the Port of Churchill, and further benefit the communities and sectors of the economy that depend on the Arctic Gateway Group’s operations. The Arctic Gateway Group is a partnership of 41 First Nation and Bayline communities in Manitoba. The Hudson Bay Railway, owned and operated by the Arctic Gateway Group, is the only affordable year-round, all-weather mode of transportation for both passenger and freight traffic to access several northern Manitoba communities. The rail line serves remote and Indigenous communities, and links the Port of Churchill as the only deep-water Arctic port connected to the North American surface transportation network. The Port of Churchill is positioned to import and export commodities, critical minerals and natural resource products through the Arctic and to the world and strengthen Canada’s northern sovereignty and security. PrairieCan

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and partners are providing $28.4 million to support 43 early-career researchers focusing on health research in the areas of infectious and chronic disease, brain and mental health, aging, rare diseases, improving the health care system, and more. The recipients include:

  • Dr. Rabia Khan from the University of British Columbia is researching how to address burnout in women physicians with intersectional identities.
  • Dr. Pamela Lagali from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is examining potential new treatments for retinal diseases that lead to vision loss and blindness.
  • Dr. Idowu B. Olawoye from the University of Western Ontario is tackling antimicrobial resistance, a growing problem in Canada and around the world.
  • Dr. Ralph-Sydney Mboumba Bouassa from the Institut du Savoir Montfort is examining the neglected threat of HPV and cervical cancer in non-vaccinated immigrants and refugee women from Sub-Saharan Africa living in Canada.

The CIHR said this new investment will support Black people and racialized women who are underrepresented as they transition to independent academic or research positions – increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion in health research. CIHR

The Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a $24-million agreement to boost the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil to Electric Incentive program. The funding will help cover the average cost of a heat pump and enable the province to transition 3,000 homes to cleaner, more affordable heating options in the coming year. Under the recently strengthened Oil to Heat Pump Affordability program, eligible Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can receive up to $22,000 in support – which would cover the full cost of an average heat pump – for switching to a heat pump, electric furnace or electric boiler. To date, 2,065 Newfoundland and Labrador households have applied to the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil to Electric Incentive program to make the switch from an oil tank to a new electric heat source. Environment and Climate Change Canada

The Prairies-based Protein Industries Canada innovation cluster is investing $7.3 million in a $19.2-million project to create new ingredients and food options for consumers. The remaining contribution comes from industry partners. The project involves new oat and pulse ingredients created by Reginal-based Avena Foods being used by Big Mountain Foods in Vancouver, Quebec-based Danone Canada, and Winnipeg-based Old Dutch to replace several common ingredients and processing aids in their respective products. The new offerings for consumers will include allergy-friendly alternatives. During the project, Avena will further optimize and refine specialty-milled oat and pulse flours, while also creating specialty-milled pulse grits, meals and flours that match each customer’s unique processes. Old Dutch, Danone and Big Mountain Foods will use the optimized new ingredients from Avena to create new snack options and reformulated products, including yogurt, plant-based beverages and creamers, veggie links, cutlets, pastries, fillings and alternative non-soy/non-fava tofu products. Protein Industries Canada

 The Government of Nova Scotia launched a Community Solar Program, investing $5.2 million in 2024-25 to help with the capital costs of building community solar gardens that can each produce up to 10 megawatts of power. The program will help community groups and businesses set up solar gardens and sell their renewable electricity to subscribers who can’t install their own solar panels. Non-profits, co-operatives, First Nations communities, municipalities, businesses, universities and colleges are permitted to build and own solar gardens. New gardens under the Community Solar Program are expected to be up and running by spring 2026, at which point people can subscribe to them at a slightly lower power rate. Nova Scotia’s Our Climate, Our Future: Nova Scotia’s Climate Change Plan for Clean Growth aims to introduce at least 500 megawatts of new local, renewable energy by 2026 and an additional 50 MW of new community solar. Govt. of Nova Scotia

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a federal investment of nearly $5 million to install more than 500 new electric vehicle chargers, including 40 fast chargers, across the City of Toronto. The chargers are expected to be installed by December 2025. Before hitting the roads, Canadians can easily map out their route by consulting NRCan’s Charging and Alternative Fuelling Station Locator. To date, federal investments are helping to deploy more than 43,000 EV chargers across the country – particularly in public spaces where they are most needed. NRCan

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced more than $3.5 million in funding for 18 projects under the Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program. This federal funding supports small and medium-sized businesses in their efforts to adopt and incorporate innovative, clean technologies in their business operations. By incorporating these technologies and solutions into fisheries and aquaculture operations, producers can reduce environmental impacts, including reduced water consumption, energy use and emissions, plastic demands, waste and accidental catch of non-target fish species. The program also includes funding to pilot test late-stage innovations or process technologies in Canada’s aquaculture sector. Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced more than $3.1 million for the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) under the AgriAssurance Program - National Industry Association Component. This program is under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The funding will be used to make improvements to the National Index on Agri-Food Performance, which acts as a point of reference for companies to declare the sustainability of their practices. CAPI will use the funding to include more partners in refining the tool, fix missing information, and create an upgraded version of the Index. The Index looks at how sustainable Canada’s farming and food sector is from food production to retail, covering things like how it affects the environment, the quality of food, and how it helps the economy and society. The new version of the Index will show how the agriculture sector is operating in a sustainable way, help Canadian food brands demonstrate their claims, and assist consumers in making informed choices when purchasing products. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) announced more than $2.5 million in funding for Squamish, B.C.-based Quantum Technology to scale-up production of its green hydrogen technology. The company manufactures the equipment needed to purify and liquefy gases such as hydrogen and helium. These gases can be used as a carbon-free energy source – critical for creating a net-zero future in sectors like transportation. Quantum Technology is the first Canadian company to build this equipment on a large scale. This funding, provided through PacifiCan’s Business Scale-up and Productivity program, will help Quantum Technology improve its manufacturing process, enhance  product design, and grow its workforce to meet Canadian and global market demand. PacifiCan

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) announced more than $1.6 million for Mississauga-based TDG Transit Design Group Inc. to enhance its newly expanded facility with manufacturing capabilities to produce longer-lasting, weatherproof lighting technology to help the company enter into the aerospace, defence and security sectors. As a result, TDG Transit Design Group will be able to grow into global markets and help more businesses, organizations and transit operators reduce their energy consumption. FedDev

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced more than $1.6 million for the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to develop and implement Manitoba’s Green Advantage, and the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Green Assessment Program. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has hired an expert in environmental management to lead the project, which involves working with businesses to come up with a process through which they can apply for grants to help them be more sustainable. This investment is expected to grow the Green Prairie Economy momentum by helping 60 SMEs identify opportunities to increase their capacity to export sustainable green products and services. Funds are from the Regional Innovation Ecosystems Program. PrairiesCan

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor) announced an unconditionally repayable contribution of $809,000 for North Bay, Ontario-based Nexco Inc. to help with the development and production of new mining explosives technology. The funding, provided through FedNor’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program, will allow Nexco to design and construct a small scale pilot plant to modify explosive grade ammonium nitrate during the manufacturing process to produce a water-resistant ammonium nitrate particle. The pilot plant will help the company demonstrate the advantages and cost savings of their unique ammonium nitrate product over traditional commercial explosives currently available on the market. The funding also will help with the design and acquisition of the equipment needed for both Nexco’s laboratory and demonstration plant, which will be used for ongoing testing of their innovative products. Once the project is complete, it is anticipated Nexco would be able to produce enough product to supply 11 percent of the North American market for ammonium nitrate. FedNor

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced $502,374 for the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) to update the standards regulating the production and marketing of certified organic products. This funding is provided through the AgriAssurance Program - National Industry Association Component, an initiative under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. In consultation with the organic sector, the OFC will update the Canadian Organic Standards to add new practices and permitted substances and revise the sections on animal welfare. The OFC project will focus on innovative, sustainable and ecological organic practices that can reduce the impact of climate change by capturing and storing carbon in soil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The OFC will also explore regenerative agriculture practices such as vertical agriculture and sunless crops, which will have positive long-term effects for the sector. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Dimensions pilot project officially ended after its funding wasn’t renewed by the Government of Canada last year. The project launched in 2018 with the goal of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within Canadian postsecondary institutions and was jointly administered by the Tri-Council funding agencies. “I am very disappointed that a successful program that has received international recognition has ended,” said Kirsty Duncan, an EDI advocate and who was minister of science and sport when the pilot project was launched. “Millennia of patriarchy and centuries of colonialism and slavery cast long shadows. This is not the time to stop, but rather to continue, and fix well-known, long-standing inequality,” she said in a statement to University Affairs. Out of 40 applicants to Dimensions, 17 institutions were invited to participate in developing a program that would be relevant to all higher education institutions in Canada. A total of 143 institutions (CEGEPs, universities, government agencies, research institutes) have since signed the Dimensions Charter. In a statement, NSERC said the project “received only temporary funding. Given current budgetary constraints, it would be extraordinarily difficult to extend pilot programs with no corresponding budget.” University Affairs

Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Saskatchewan residents will no longer receive the federal carbon rebate, after the Saskatchewan government refused to remit the federal carbon levy on natural gas. Wilkinson said Saskatchewan's move is reckless, as the law to impose a carbon levy was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. “The rebate actually provides more money for most families in Saskatchewan," he said. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said while the province’s utility, SaskEnergy, has stopped remitting the federal levy, residents are still paying it on gasoline, diesel, propane and other goods. “If Saskatchewan people stop getting the rebate entirely, Saskatchewan should stop paying the carbon tax entirely,” Moe said. SaskEnergy is breaking federal emissions law by choosing not to remit the levy, which could result in fines or jail time for executives. The Saskatchewan government has passed legislation that aims to shield executives from legal consequences, putting that burden on the province. CBC News

Innovation Solutions Canada’s budget slashed after feeble government procurement

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will reduce spending on the Innovation Solutions Canada (ISC) program by $28.2 million in 2024-25 and $70 million per year ongoing starting in 2025-26, according to ISED’s 2024-2025 Departmental Plan. Savings will be achieved through reduced contributions to the ISC program from participating departments across government.

Launched in December 2017, the ISC program’s objective is to support Canadian SME and innovative Canadian businesses in commercializing R&D, by leveraging federal government procurement. ISC required 20 federal departments and agencies to spend one per cent of annual procurement and R&D expenditures on SMEs.

However, departments and agencies – especially the Department of National Defence –failed consistently to meet the ISC program’s spending requirements. In 2020-21 – the last year for which the program published an annual report – expenditures totalled $33.6 million. ISC’s total budget in 2020-21 was approximately $147.6 million.

Starting in 2025-26, ISED also will return $11.4 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation that was unspent in 2023-24 and will reduce the overall funding envelope for the Strategic Innovation fund by $38.2 million in 2025-26, then cutting $141.4 million per year from 2026-27 onwards. ISED is also reducing the Canada Digital Adoption program funding envelope by $43.7 million in 2024-25.

Over the next three fiscal years, ISED’s total spending cuts will be: $141.2 million (2024-25); $158 million (2025-26); and $313.7 million (2026-27 and after). The spending cuts are part of ISED’s contribution to the federal government’s commitment to reduce government spending by $14.1 billion over the next five years, starting in 2023-24, and by $4.1 billion annually after that.

Among ISED’s key priorities in its Departmental Plan, the top two are: developing a sustainable battery innovation and industrial ecosystem; and advancing the Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy through strategic investments to strengthen Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.

The mixed experiences of programs like ISC and the Department of National Defence’s IDeAs program “shows that soft mandates aren’t enough on their own. There have to be teeth to these things and real consequences for departments that don’t meet their commitments,” Laurent Carbonneau, director of policy and research at the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI), wrote in a commentary.

Canada could mandate a structured set-aside for research through SMEs and scaling companies, similar to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in in the U.S., he said. The program is essentially a competitive granting program based around pre-commercial procurement that requires every agency that conducts more than $100 million in external research to set aside a portion of their budget for small businesses.

SBIR-backed companies are three times more likely to have scientific publications and eight times more likely to patent, Carbonneau noted. They are also five times more likely to subsequently attract angel or venture capital funding and three times more likely to pursue an initial public offering or be acquired.

Carbonneau said the other piece that Canada needs is what countries like Finland do: create structures to build competence, expertise, and confidence within the public sector to undertake innovation procurement. Business Finland, for instance, is an arm’s length public entity that helps empower government departments and municipalities with funding and assistance to get through the first few stages of an innovation procurement process. That internal de-risking and competency development then goes a long way to making the next innovation procurement easier.

“A twin approach using both mandates and supports could be the combination that Canada needs to break the public sector out of its risk-averse mold,” Carbonneau said. This would help innovators develop solutions to public problems, find broader markets, and eventually become competitive exporters, he added. “Income from actual commercial contracts is worth a lot more than grants and tax credits – it’s bankable in a way that these other tools just aren’t.” ISED, CCI


Moderna has completed construction of its new state-of-the-art mRNA vaccine production facility in Laval Quebec, federal, Quebec and municipal government officials announced. This represents a major milestone in Canada’s efforts to strengthen domestic vaccine and therapeutics production capacity, they said. Moderna’s facility, expected to cost about $180 million when first announced, will be able to produce, if needed, approximately 100 million mRNA vaccine doses annually. The facility is expected to be ready to manufacture respiratory mRNA vaccines for Canadians in 2025, pending regulatory approvals and certifications. Moderna also has committed to supporting R&D in Canada by establishing partnerships with Canadian researchers and companies over the course of the company’s long-term agreement with the federal government, announced in June 2022. Moderna currently has 45 therapeutic and vaccine programs in its pipeline across infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases and autoimmune diseases, including nine in late-stage development. Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Gulf Fisheries Centre in New Brunswick is now accredited to the highest of standards for its environmental DNA (eDNA) testing and analyses. In February, the Moncton-based laboratory became DFO’s first International Standards Organization (ISO) 17025 accredited eDNA testing lab for aquatic invasive species. The accreditation certifies that the results produced in the lab meet international standards for accuracy and reliability. Leveraging eDNA – the genetic material shed by organisms in their environment –allows researchers to identify the organisms, including invasive ones, within water samples collected from aquatic ecosystems. The technology enables preventative action sooner as it is able to detect aquatic invasive species before they can be seen (e.g. at their earliest life stages such as larvae) and when abundance is still low. The Gulf Fisheries Centre, to become the Atlantic Science Enterprise Centre in coming years, is already home to an ISO 17025 accredited National Aquatic Animal Health Program diagnostic lab in support of DFO’s aquatic animal health management. DFO

Montreal-based SRG Mining Inc. announced it is terminating an agreement to sell China-based Carbon One New Energy Group  a 19.4-per-cent stake in SRG for $16.9 million. The move comes only about a week after SRG announced plans to redomicile to the Abu Dhabi Global Market in the United Arab Emirates. The redomiciling will provide the company with expanded “strategic optionality,” SRG said at the time. The UAE has a taxation treaty and a bilateral investment treaty with the Republic of Guinea, West Africa, where SRG’s main asset, the Lola graphite project, is located. SRG also hoped to avoid a national security review under the Investment Canada Act into the company's deal with Carbon One New Energy Group. However, federal Industry Minister  François-Phillipe Champagne, speaking at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada mining conference in Toronto on March 4, said "it's never smart to try to circumvent the rules," according to a story by The Globe and Mail. The next day, SRG announced the end of its deal with the Chinese company. SRG didn't mention anything about redomiciling to the UAE in its latest announcement. SRG Mining

The federal government’s policy of preventing Chinese companies from investing in Canadian-listed firms may be put to the test after Vancouver-based Osino Resources Corp. agreed to be bought by China-based Yintai Gold Co. Ltd. for $368 million. Yintai’s main interest in Osino seems to be the latter’s Twin Hills Gold project in central Namibia. The project is expected to generate about US$1.5 billion with a relatively low cost of about $365 million to build the mine. Even though Canada has blocked gold transactions in the past – for example, Shandong Gold Ming Co.’s bid for TMAC Resources Inc. – Beacon Securities Ltd. analyst Bereket Berhe said Osino’s assets are not in Canada and gold is not recognized as a critical mineral. “The acquisitions of TSE-listed gold mining companies by Chinese operators, including Zijin Mining’s acquisition of Nevsun Resources (2018), Continental Gold (2019) and Guyana Goldfields (2020), did not prove problematic,” Behre said in a research note. Financial Post

A year after Canada tightened foreign investment rules for the critical minerals sector, Chinese money has continued to pour into Toronto-listed miners, according to proprietary research conducted by the University of Alberta. The inbound flow is raising hopes among some junior miners that it will be easier to find Chinese funding. Canada’s critical minerals miners received at least a dozen investments worth $2.2 billion in 2023 from new and existing investors in China and Hong Kong, a huge increase over $62 million in 2022, data compiled by U of A’s The China Institute shows. “What you are seeing is the reality, that there is no blockade of Chinese investments in Canada . . . it is a perception issue,” said Dean McPherson, head of mining, TMX Group Ltd. Chinese investors have been among the most active in Canada's mining industry, plowing in $21 billion between 1993 and 2023, according to data from The China Institute. Reuters

Canada’s Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) announced its third pan-Canadian call for proposals. The program has already allocated $27.5 million and now invites MICA members to apply for the remaining $2.5 million. Applicants can visit for additional information and application instructions. Applicants are required to submit an Initial Application by March 18, 2024. MICA, headquartered in Sudbury, is a collaborative, national innovation ecosystem hosted by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation. It aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of innovative clean technologies in the mining sector, to produce high-impact clean-tech innovations to mining. The MICA program seeks solution providers to address these four topics: 1) Increase Mine Production Capacity, at Lower Cost; 2) Reduce Mining Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions; 3) Implement Smart, Autonomous Mining Systems; 4) Reduce Environmental Risk and Long-Term Liabilities. MICA

A corporation co-owned by 13 Mi'kmaw communities is investing in new battery plants with Nova Scotia Power in what both parties are calling a step toward reconciliation. The project, by Wskijinu'k Mtmo'taqnuow Agency Ltd., is expected to draw and store electricity during off-peak periods and release it back to the grid when needed. The company is getting up to $18 million in an equity loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank to help facilitate the partnership. Construction of what will be the largest energy storage project in Atlantic Canada is to begin this year in White Rock, Bridgewater and Waverly, with the first site expected to be operational next year. CBC News

Toronto-based health care startup Figure 1 was acquired by New Jersey-based Physician’s Weekly, a medical news and education platform for health care professionals. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Figure 1 is a mobile networking platform, including more than 100,000 health care professional-generated patient cases, for peer-to-peer collaboration among health care professionals. Physician’s Weekly said the acquisition further solidifies the company’s position as a leading destination for health care professionals seeking extensive clinical insights and treatment resources whenever and wherever they make patient care decisions. Physician’s Weekly

Montreal-based nonprofit QueerTech has acquired Gradient Spaces, a Toronto-based nonprofit accelerator for 2SLGBTQ+ startup founders in Canada. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. QueerTech helps members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community access and grow within the tech and innovation workforce. QueerTech said queer-owned businesses employ more than 435,000 Canadians, yet unique barriers experienced by 2SLGBTQ+ founders regularly inhibit their ability to scale, access adequate funding (with less than one per cent of venture capital deals going to queer entrepreneurs), and frequently lead to chronic underrepresentation in high growth sectors such as the tech space. QueerTech said aims to expand its support of 2SLGBTQ+ business leaders with this acquisition. QueerTech

The University of Waterloo is removing snack-dispensing vending machines made by Switzerland-based manufacturer Ivenda, in response to student complaints about the apparent usage of facial recognition technology in the machines, without students being informed or obtaining their prior consent. Ivenda, in a statement to Imprint, said the technology in the machine is people detection and facial analysis, and that it does not collect, retain or process user data or photos. The data collected is only used to assess foot traffic at the machines and transactional conversion rates, the company said. Imprint

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has selected five Canadian food products to add to the menu for the crew of the 10-day Artemis II mission to the Moon and the six-month Starliner-1 mission to the International Space Station. NASA is responsible for creating the full menu, including three meals and a snack every day. The five Canadian items on the menu are: strawberry lavender superseed cereal made by an Ontario company; shrimp curry and rice made by a Quebec firm; cubes of smoke salmon from the West Coast; and maple cream cookies and maple syrup (in a plastic tube) – both from Quebec. The Artemis II mission is scheduled to launch in September 2025, with CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen set to be the first Canadian to fly around the moon. The International Space Station mission will begin at the start of 2025 at the earliest. Astronaut Joshua Kutryk will be the first CSA astronaut to do this mission under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. CTV News

Making AI a partner in neuroscientific discovery

Neuroscientists can either benefit from partnering with AI-generated Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT or risk being left behind, according to a perspective paper whose lead author is Dr. Danilo Bzdok from the Mila - Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute. In their previous studies, the authors showed that important preconditions are met to develop LLMs that can interpret and analyze neuroscientific data, like ChatGPT interprets language. These AI models can be built for many different types of data, including neuroimaging, genetics, single-cell genomics and even hand-written clinical reports. In the traditional model of research, a scientist studies previous data on a topic, develops new hypotheses and tests them using experiments. Because of the massive amounts of data available, scientists often focus on a narrow field of research, such as neuroimaging or genetics.

LLMs, however, can absorb more neuroscientific research than a single human ever could. In their study published in Neuron, the authors argue that one day LLMs specialized in diverse areas of neuroscience could be used to communicate with one another to bridge siloed areas of neuroscience research, uncovering truths that would be impossible to find by humans alone. In the case of drug development, for example, an LLM specialized in genetics could be used along with a neuroimaging LLM to discover promising candidate molecules to stop neurodegeneration. The neuroscientist would direct these LLMs and verify their outputs. 

It’s possible that the neuroscientist will, in certain cases, not always be able to fully understand the mechanism behind the biological processes discovered by these LLMs, said Bzdok, Canada CIFAR Artificial Intelligence Chair at Mila and associate professor of biomedical engineering at McGill University. “We have to be open to the fact that certain things about the brain may be unknowable, or at least take a long time to understand,” he said. “Yet we might still generate insights from state-of-the-art LLMs and make clinical progress, even if we don’t fully grasp the way they reach conclusions.”

To realize the full potential of LLMs in neuroscience, Bzdok says scientists would need more infrastructure for data processing and storage than is available today at many research organizations. More importantly, it would take a cultural shift to a much more data-driven scientific approach, where studies that rely heavily on artificial intelligence and LLMs are published by leading journals and funded by public agencies. While the traditional model of strongly hypothesis-driven research remains key and is not going away, Bzdok says capitalizing on emerging LLM technologies might be important to spur the next generation of neurological treatments in cases where the old model has been less fruitful. The Neuro


Toronto-based AI startup Ideogram, which is developing AI image-generation technology, is reportedly raising US$80 million in a newly launched Series A funding round. Andreessen Horowitz is leading the round, with participation from Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Pear VC and SV Angel. Ideogram CEO and co-founder Mohammad Norouzi did his computer science PhD at the University of Toronto before joining Google. Ideogram launched in August 2023, led by several former Google employees who helped create the first version of the tech giant’s Imagen image-generation software. The startup’s initial aim was, in part, to solve a vexing issue with so-called generative AI: letting users create an image with text you can actually read, such as an image of a protester holding a legible sign or a cute cat in a T-shirt that clearly says, “Ask me about my AI startup.” Ideogram plans to use the funding for hiring and computing needs. Bloomberg

Canadian-founded Power, a San Francisco-based clinical trial marketplace, raised $16.3 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Kin Ventures and Contrary, with participation from Footwork, AirAngels, Artis Ventures, 20Growth, 14W, Moment, and Otherwise Fund. Power was founded in 2021 by Canadian entrepreneurs Brandon Li and Michael “Bask” Gill. Power’s platform aggregates clinical trial information and feeds it into Power’s patient interface. The technology provides a platform for clinical trials, making it easy for all patients – including underserved populations – to discover promising clinical trials and get in touch with the researchers directly. The company plans to use the funds to continue to expand operations. FinSMES

Vancouver-based Elevated Signals Inc., which offers modern manufacturing software, announced raising $7.9 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by Yaletown Partners, with participation from Third Kind Venture Capital, WGD Capital, Colin Harris, Raiven Capital, and Pareto Holdings. Elevated Signals’ cloud-based platform automates and simplifies the capture of real-time manufacturing data, providing a "unified source of truth" that is accessible company-wide. This data also lays the foundation for companies to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for continued process optimization. The company plans to use the funding to expand and diversify into new sectors. Elevated Signals

Toronto-based Bench IQ, an AI-powered legal tech company, raised $2.1 million in seed funding. The round was led by venture capital firms California-based Maple and New York-based Haystack, with participation from tech leaders like Jason Boehmig and Qasar Younis. Also participating in the round were Inovia Capital, Soma Capital, Roach Capital, Alumni Ventures, Boon Fund, Andrew Arruda (CEO, Flexpa), Zain Manji, Arif Bhanji, Nivrith Sekhar, and Ronald Gosio, alongside additional angel investors. Bench IQ provides AI-enhanced legal research tools designed to provide insights into judges' rulings, allowing attorneys to uncover the reasons behind the rulings and identify the best arguments to outmaneuver opposing counsel. SaaS News

Montreal-based edtech startup Tokidos raised $1.35 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed, all-equity funding round from Triptyq Capital, Investissement Quebec, and Boreal Ventures. Tokidos’ PLAYCubes is a screen-free distributed and modular console designed for children aged 3 to 8 to share among siblings, friends, and families, to foster creativity, learning and family connections. Tokidos said the funding will help the company build its team and bring its first product to market, with PLAYCubes set to launch in September 2024. Private Capital Journal  

Halifax-based health tech startup Myomar Molecular raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding, in a mix of equity and grants. The round’s equity portion was led by an undisclosed Nova Scotia angel investor, with participation from other Ontario- and Atlantic Canada-based angels through the Women’s Equity Lab. The grant funding comprises contributions from both the federal and Nova Scotia governments. The funding will help the company, founded by Rafaela Andrade, a PhD holder from Dalhousie University, commercialize a first-of-its-kind muscle health monitoring device. The startup's innovative test kit, reminiscent of a home-use pregnancy test, utilizes a urine test and a software application. Myomar’s device interprets biomarkers linked to muscle health, providing critical data for healthcare providers. The company is in the process of securing regulatory approvals from Health Canada, with plans to launch the product in the fall. BNN

Angel Investors Ontario (AIO) is in the midst of a leadership transition, with its current federal government funding set to expire at the end of March and no new commitments yet. The 17-year-old angel investor group has brought on Mark Lawrence as its interim executive chair, replacing longtime president and executive director Jeffrey Steiner, who is stepping down. The change comes as AIO awaits word from the federal and provincial governments as to whether it can expect to receive more financial support. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario currently provides over 90 percent of AIO’s funding, with the remainder coming from sponsors. Ontario’s Doug Ford government cut all financial support to AIO and its local angel groups in 2019. Lawrence said that AIO is not closing its doors come April 1, but said the circumstances leave the organization’s longer-term future uncertain. BetaKit


Ottawa tightens rules for foreign investments in Canada’s interactive digital media sector

The Government of Canada is strengthening oversight of foreign investments in Canada’s interactive digital media sector. Effective immediately, all investments in the sector by entities owned or influenced by foreign states, particularly states that engage in activities that may pose a risk to Canada’s national security, will be subject to enhanced scrutiny under the Investment Canada Act, the government said.

Net benefit reviews for foreign investments in the cultural interactive digital media sector, particularly in businesses that create their own original intellectual property, may require stricter undertakings for a longer period of time, particularly with respect to creative independence, corporate governance and transparency, Ottawa said.

For the purpose of this policy, interactive digital media includes, but is not limited to, digital content and/or an environment in which users can actively participate or that facilitates collaborative participation among multiple users for the purposes of entertainment, information or education, and commonly delivered via the internet, mobile networks, gaming consoles or media storage devices.

Examples of activities that fall under the category of interactive digital media include, but are not limited to, video gaming (including online gaming, consoles) and technology platforms that can be used for entertaining, education, training, and e-commerce (including some mobile apps, virtual and/or extended reality devices).

Some factors that can be considered in assessing whether a particular transaction in the interactive digital media sector would be injurious to national security include:

  • the reach and audience of the product’s content
  • whether the products have online elements (such as in-game chat logs, in-game purchases, microphone/camera access)
  • the nature and extent of the investor’s ties to a foreign government
  • whether the Canadian business is likely to be used as a vehicle by a foreign state to propagate disinformation or censor information in a manner that is inconsistent with Canadian rights and values through the investment’
  • the composition of the board of directors of the Canadian business’
  • the degree of control or influence the investor would likely exert on the Canadian business, including its products’ content
  • whether the Canadian business to be acquired owns or creates its own intellectual property
  • the corporate governance and reporting structure of the foreign enterprise, including whether it adheres to Canadian standards of corporate governance and to Canadian laws and practices, including free market principles in its Canadian operations
  • whether the Canadian business to be acquired is likely to continue to operate on a commercial basis.

While Canada continues to welcome foreign direct investments that support the growth of the sector, the federal government recognizes that hostile state-sponsored or state-influenced actors may try to leverage foreign investments in the interactive digital media sector to spread disinformation and manipulate information, the government said. The government also recognizes the importance of ensuring the presence of distinct Canadian-owned and Canadian-created intellectual property that allows for the creation of Canadian stories and cultural products.

“The Government of Canada is determined to take action when investments could threaten national security and would not be in Canada’s best interest.” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


Federal government clarifies regulatory requirements for tidal power projects

The Government of Canada released the Tidal Energy Task Force’s final report to clarify regulatory requirements for tidal projects – including those in the Bay of Fundy – with the  aim of defining the path for growth of the tidal industry. 

The report stems from the work of the Tidal Energy Task Force, led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Natural Resources Canada, with members from the Nova Scotia government, industry, and research organizations, and input from Indigenous groups and stakeholders.

The report has identified four key issues that are critical to the tidal energy sector in the Bay of Fundy: 

  • the administration of the Fisheries Act authorization process
  • environmental risk assessment and monitoring standards
  • international data and research on environmental impacts
  • climate change and economic benefits in decision-making.

DFO had been using a “staged approach” that allows proponents to deploy a reduced number of tidal power devices first, in order to demonstrate the ability to monitor and validate predicted impacts on fish and fish habitat prior to deploying multiple devices or platforms.

However, the Task Force’s interim report said the staged approach doesn’t give the industry what it needs. “Economies of scale, supply chains, and investment security dictate a minimum pace and size. The tidal sector needs a regulatory pathway for small arrays of multiple devices to demonstrate the viability of commercial tidal stream energy. DFO’s staged approach to turbine deployment does not provide the required certainty,” according to the report.

As a result of the Task Force, DFO has revised its staged approach for authorizations for tidal energy projects in the Bay of Fundy to better account for how these projects are designed and deployed. Under this revised approach, the department will offer a single, conditional Fisheries Act Authorization and Species at Risk Act permit for the full 15-year lifecycle of a tidal energy project. “This will provide assurance that, if no adverse effects are observed, additional devices could be deployed as long as continued monitoring shows there are no adverse effects to fish.”

In addition and in response to the Task Force’s findings, the federal government announced an investment of $300,000 from Natural Resources Canada to strengthen risk assessment and monitoring efforts in the Bay of Fundy. To oversee these efforts, the Task Force convened a working group, co-chaired by the non-profit Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and Acadia University. The working group will specifically assess the effectiveness of monitoring technologies in the Minas passage and develop tools, approaches and best practices that will help reduce barriers to environmental effects monitoring and more effectively assess risks in order to strengthen Canada’s emerging tidal stream energy industry in the Bay of Fundy.

In March 2023, Sustainable Marine Energy, based in Scotland with an office in Dartmouth, N.S., stepped back from its application for a tidal power site with FORCE. Jayson Hayman, CEO of Sustainable Marine Energy, said at the time his company had been working for about three years to get an authorization from DFO to deliver the project, “but we are basically coming up against a brick wall.” The company was subsequently placed into voluntary bankruptcy. Hayman said a decision was made to place the company into voluntary bankruptcy after receiving a letter from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, which failed to provide investors with confidence or certainty. The letter did not answer questions posed about the risk assessment methodology used or shed light on what a transparent regulatory process for the delivery of tidal energy projects in Canada could look like, Hayman said. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, CBC, Hydro Review


Canada is in a deepening “growth crisis,” says columnist Andrew Coyne

How bad is productivity and economic growth in Canada? Andrew Coyne, columnist for The Globe and Mail, wrote in a March 1 op-ed that Canada is in a deepening “growth crisis. Here are some of his observations and various statistics he cited to support his description of the country’s plight:

  • The latest figures from Statistics Canada confirm that Canada suffered yet another decline in per capita GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023: the fifth decline in the past six quarters, the worst sustained drop in more than 30 years. Per capita GDP, after adjusting for inflation, is now below where it was in the fourth quarter of 2014.
  • In the 1950s and 60s, Canada’s economy grew at a rate of more than 5 per cent annually, after inflation. By the 1970s that had slowed to roughly 4 per cent; to 3 per cent in the 1980s; to 2.4 per cent in the 1990s; to 2 per cent in the 2000s. Over the past 10 years, it has averaged just 1.7 per cent. Last year it was 1.1 per cent.
  • As late as 1981, Canada ranked sixth among OECD countries in GDP per capita, behind only Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway, the United States and Denmark. As of 2022 we were 15th. Over the 40-odd years in between, Canada’s per capita GDP grew more slowly than that of 22 other OECD members.
  • As of 1981, per capita GDP in Canada was 92 per cent of that of the U.S.; by 2022 it had fallen to just 73 per cent. 
  • The OECD tracks investment across its 38 member states plus nine others. From 2011 to 2015, the growth rate of investment in Canada was “merely awful”: 37th out of the 47. From 2015 to 2023, it was “appalling”: 44th, ahead of only South Africa, Mexico and Japan.
  • As recently as a decade ago, gross fixed capital formation per worker in Canada was within striking distance of the United States: about 95 per cent. It has since declined to roughly two-thirds. 
  • Since around 2000, while business investment in residential structures has roughly doubled as a percentage of GDP, investment in machinery and equipment has roughly halved. 
  • Canada’s public-sector obligation, including health care costs, unfunded liabilities in the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan, the federal net debt and provincial debts, add up to more than $7 trillion, or nearly 2 ½ times the nation’s GDP.

When an economy ceases to grow, it isn’t only living standards that suffer. It’s everything they represent, Coyne wrote. “A society that cannot look forward to a future of rising living standards is one that is deprived of one of the primary motive forces of human behaviour – hope. Without the universal lubricant of growth, all of the divisions within a society – between the classes, between the generations, between sexes and races and (this is Canada, after all) regions – are likely to be more inflamed.” The Globe and Mail


Canada requires investment of $60-billion per year to achieve climate goals: RBC report

Canadians will need to invest even more in new energy, food and transportation systems, and accelerate changes to how we live, work and travel to achieve Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate goals, according to RBC’s inaugural climate action report, The $2 Trillion Transition: Canada’s Road to Net Zero. Canada needs to nearly double climate spending from recent levels of about $22 billion a year in supply-side spending, plus $13 billion in consumer spending, to $60 billion in annual investments each year through 2050, the report says.

 Moreover, most of the new public investment will need to come from provinces and municipalities as the federal government, according to RBC’s estimates, has covered roughly 80 per cent of the bill and is reaching its fiscal limits. Public markets, private equity and venture capital will need to step up and channel more of their capital into green investments as they’ve injected just eight per cent of overall capital flows, or $61 billion, since 2021.

Canada needs to invest $158.4 billion just to achieve its 2030 emissions-reduction target, RBC’s report says. The sectors involved, the emissions reductions needed and the capital required up to 2023 are: oil and gas (84 million tonnes – $50 billion); electricity (38 Mt – $25.3 billion); transportation (11 Mt – $50.8 billion); heavy industry (23 Mt – $14.2 billion); buildings (39 Mt – $15.9 billion); and agriculture (2 Mt –$2.2 billion).

Key findings of the report include:

  • Investment flows to climate action have grown by 50 per cent since 2021. Capital flows, from public and private sources, grew from $15 billion to $22 billion, but need to reach $60 billion a year for the rest of the decade for the economy to be on a course to net zero by 2050.
  • Business capital flows need to rise significantly. Public markets and private equity capital flows into climate and cleantech reached $14 billion last year – just 12 per cent of all new capital financing.
  • Our survey shows more than half of Canadian businesses have set emissions reduction targets for 2030, and 96 per cent of CEOs surveyed are confident they can hit them.
  • Around two-thirds of Canadians want to do more to tackle climate change. But they feel they need more awareness of their options. Roughly half don’t favour actions that erode their standard of living.
  • Early adopters are leading a shift in consumer spending. Although spending remains concentrated among early adopters, Canadians spent about $13 billion on electric vehicles and heat pumps in 2023.
  • EV and heat pump sales are gaining traction. One in every 10 cars sold in Canada is an EV, and heat pumps hit a historical high of 7 per cent in 2023.
  • Rapid deployment of proven technology can slash oil and gas emissions. At least $15 billion will be needed for methane abatement technologies for conventional oil and natural gas producers, which will be critical if oil and gas exports rise as projected.
  • Wind power is the leading new source of clean energy, and growing faster than it has in a decade. But 11.5 gigawatts more – equivalent to powering all homes in British Columbia and Alberta – will be needed to meet Canada’s 2030 renewable energy goals.
  • The buildings sector is lagging on retrofits. The sector is well behind what’s needed in emissions cuts with only marginal gains since the pandemic. The annual rate of retrofits remains at 1 per cent compared to the 3 per cent needed.

The RBC report makes several recommendations, including:

  • Establish a national policy on electrification, with federal incentives to develop better links between provincial grids, harmonized regulations and coherent pricing.
  • Create a national strategy for green skills, with a federal Green Skills Grant.
  • The federal and provincial governments and major business groups should make a long-term commitment to the national carbon price.
  • Engage the U.S. in bilateral talks around climate policy, with a focus on strategic supply chains, energy products and emissions-reduction technologies.
  • The federal government and major industrial-emitting provinces should agree to an industrial strategy with a new framework for carbon capture, utilization and storage that includes research grants, long-term tax credits for carbon stored, and new approaches to public-private investment.
  • Create a national action plan on sustainable agriculture.
  • “Supercharge” electric vehicles by rapidly reducing their costs and increasing their range and the number of charging stations.
  • Establish a national retrofit strategy to urgently accelerate the retrofitting of 4.5 million homes by 2030 to make them energy efficient and reduce emissions. RBC


Alberta government imposes new restrictions on renewable energy development

The Government of Alberta lifted a seven-month temporary halt on approvals for new renewable energy projects in the province. However, Premier Danielle Smith’s UCP government imposed new rules restricting developments on agricultural land and near protected areas, and requiring developers to provide a bond or security to cover reclamation costs. Critics pointed out that the same rules don’t apply to the oil and gas industry.

The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) will take an “agriculture first” approach when evaluating the best use of agricultural lands proposed for renewables development, the government said. Alberta will no longer permit renewable generation developments on Class 1 and 2 lands – representing about 21 per cent of the province’s agricultural land – unless the proponent can demonstrate the ability for both crops and/or livestock to coexist with the renewable generation project.

Buffer zones of a minimum of 35 kilometres will be established around protected areas and other “pristine viewscapes” as designated by the province. New wind projects will no longer be permitted within these buffer zones. Other proposed developments located within the buffer zone may be subject to a visual impact assessment before approval. Any development of renewable energy on Crown lands will be on a case-by-case basis.

Renewable energy developers will be responsible for reclamation costs by posting a bond or security. The reclamation costs will either be provided directly to the Alberta government or may be negotiated with landowners if sufficient evidence is provided to the AUC.

The restrictions on the renewable energy sector are “patently unfair,” targeting a key industry that supports reliable and affordable electricity, said Jason Wang, senior analyst at the Pembina Institute research and policy organization. “These restrictions – that do not apply to other industries or land uses – will lead to fewer projects, slow the growth of clean and inexpensive electricity, and curtail an otherwise reliable and growing source of municipal tax revenue,” he said.

The restrictions take the choice of land development away from landowners, Wang said. Landowners in affected areas can no longer invite a renewable energy project on their land, maximizing their potential revenue, if their land falls under these new land restrictions.

“No other land use in Alberta is subject to a ban on certain classes of agricultural lands, or not allowed to develop if they are within a 35 km radius of a protected area – a zone that could cover up to 76 per cent of southern Alberta,” Wang said. Alberta’s conventional oil and gas industry has no requirement for mandatory reclamation security and the government has yet to commit to addressing the liabilities in that sector, which are 115 times greater than the renewables sector, he noted.

In addition to the oil and gas industry’s liabilities, oil and gas companies also owe rural municipalities more than $250 million in unpaid property taxes. The companies’ tax bill grew by $43 million in 2023, in addition to the $50 million in unpaid taxes reported the previous year, according to a survey of Rural Municipalities of Alberta members.

As for renewable energy, Alberta has seen the fastest growth in the sector in Canada, with 92 per cent of new capacity installed last year. It is the lowest-cost form of electricity and saves Albertan households hundreds of dollars per year, Wang said. Proposed projects waiting to be built would bring in $36 billion of investments and $277 million in annual revenue for municipalities by 2028 if allowed to proceed.

The Alberta government’s rules and restrictions on future renewable energy development “will throttle a booming industry, increase electricity rates, and drive away investment – both from renewable energy developers and from companies looking to set up shop in provinces with abundant, low-cost, clean electricity,” Rick Smith, president of the Canadian Climate Institute, said in a statement.

The 35-kilometre “buffer zone” will exclude new wind power development in many of the best locations around the province, including areas where wind projects already exist, Smith said. “This decision will cost Albertans in terms of lost jobs, forfeited investment, and higher electricity rates for decades to come.” Govt. of Alberta, Pembina Institute


New Brunswick releases hydrogen roadmap

The Government of New Brunswick released the province’s Hydrogen Roadmap, part of the government’s clean energy strategy, Powering our Economy and the World with Clean Energy – Our Path Forward to 2035. The Hydrogen Roadmap is a five-year plan outlining 13 actions, using the province’s location, natural resources and existing capabilities, to develop the hydrogen industry and position New Brunswick as a leader in producing hydrogen for consumption domestically and abroad. The Roadmap has four key areas of strategic focus:

  • Creation of an effective regulatory environment – Government will develop the necessary processes to ensure that hydrogen is produced, stored, transported, and used with the highest possible safety and environmental standards. In addition, domestic and international best practises will be used to develop and adopt new industry codes and standards.
  • Engagement and partnerships – The Roadmap acknowledges the importance of partnering with local First Nations, businesses and communities in identifying and acting on rapidly emerging and evolving clean energy opportunities. Partnership and outreach efforts will include the creation of a plan to optimize supply chain, job creation and skill development opportunities for New Brunswick associated with the adoption of low-carbon hydrogen technologies. Developing a plan to maximize First Nations opportunities will be a priority.
  • Build the foundation for success – The Saint John refinery is expanding its hydrogen capacity, with plans to offer hydrogen fuelling infrastructure in Atlantic Canada. This will make the company the first to introduce hydrogen to the regional market. Belledune and Saint John are well positioned to support the development of hydrogen hubs in both southern and northern New Brunswick. The province also is developing advanced small modular nuclear reactor technologies, which can also be used to produce hydrogen in the future.
  • Focus on action and accountability – Roadmap actions will be coordinated though the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development’s Clean Energy group. This new group will provide a single point of contact for companies and organizations looking to invest in emerging clean energy technologies while providing technical and regulatory leadership and assistance to industry proponents.

As Research Money reported in The Short Report of January 3, the Government of Nova Scotia released its Green Hydrogen Action Plan, aimed at growing the province’s green hydrogen industry and advancing the transition to clean energy. The plan includes seven goals and 23 actions. Govt. of New Brunswick


Feds announce draft regulations to reduce airborne pollutants from petroleum sector

Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada announced draft regulations to further reduce emissions from the petroleum sector of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are airborne pollutants that contribute to smog. VOCs are also major contributors to cancer, respiratory diseases, and premature death. These harmful VOCs include benzene and come from storage tanks and loading equipment at petroleum refineries, upgraders, petrochemical facilities, terminals, and other bulk fuel facilities across Canada.

To limit these toxic pollutants, the federal government would require facilities to install vapour control equipment on tanks and loading operations, as well as to inspect and repair this equipment for defects on a regular basis. “These changes would improve air quality in neighbourhoods and communities across the country that are close to oil and gas facilities,” the government said. The changes will also reduce the risk of exposure to toxic carcinogenic substances, such as benzene, for nearby residents. They would bring Canada’s regulatory approach in alignment with that of the United States, which has had similar rules in place for many years.

The draft regulations reflect an on-going commitment to environmental justice and the need to address disproportionate environmental harms on communities near industrial sites, the government said. They also support Indigenous reconciliation and recognize the right to a healthy environment in Canada.

The federal government also published, in the Canada Gazette, a Notice of Intent to consult on a risk management strategy to reduce benzene emissions from gasoline stations. A 2023 report by Health Canada concluded that Canadians living near gasoline stations may be exposed to elevated levels of toxic carcinogenic substances, such as benzene, due to emissions from underground gasoline storage tanks and other gas station sources. Ottawa is now launching consultations with interested parties and reviewing relevant information to inform policies and actions needed to drive down benzene emissions from gasoline stations. The government is inviting interested Canadians to submit their feedback on the draft VOC regulations and the Notice of Intent during the 60-day consultation period, which will end on April 24, 2024. Environment and Climate Change Canada

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities        

Dr. Ted Hewitt was reappointed as the president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a two-year term. Hewitt has been leading SSHRC since March 2015, after serving as the agency’s executive vice-president since 2012. He also served as the inaugural chair of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee from 2017 to 2019 and was the first to serve a second term as chair in 2023. Guided by Momentum: SSHRC’s Strategic Plan 2020 to 2025, Hewitt has overseen the launch and implementation of key national research priorities to promote international, interdisciplinary, transformative and high-risk research; strengthen Indigenous research and research training capacity; and enhance equity, diversity and inclusion in Canada’s research ecosystem. In his role as chair of the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, Hewitt has led major investments in research chair programs and initiatives across Canada, as well as new funding for biomedical research and support to institutions for the indirect costs of research, including for enhanced research security. Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Alejandro Adem, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, became chair of the tri-agency Canada Research Coordinating Committee for 2024, effective  January 1, 2024. Adem previously served in 2021 and 2022 as chair, a position that cycles annually among the tri-agency heads. R$

Werner Liedtke was appointed as interim commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Once a formal selection is complete, the government will appoint a new permanent commissioner. Liedtke joined FCAC in March 2019 as chief financial officer and assistant commissioner, corporate services. Before joining FCAC, he had a long career in the military. As a regulator, FCAC monitors and supervises the compliance of financial institutions, external complaints bodies, and payment card network operators with consumer protection measures set out in legislation, public commitments, and codes of conductFinance Canada

Peter Thiel will resign from Vancouver-based biotech firm AbCellera’s board of directors for personal reasons, effective March 7, 2024, the company said. Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile investors, did not advise AbCellera of any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to its operations, policies or practices, the company said. Effective upon Thiel’s resignation as a director, the size of the AbCellera’s board will be reduced from six to five directors. AbCellera

Jacob Homiller was appointed CEO of Montreal-based CarbiCrete, which offers technology - developed at McGill University - to decarbonize concrete production. The company’s co-founder and outgoing CEO, Chris Stern, will remain with the organization as a strategic advisor. Homiller has more than 25 years of experience with various global industrial companies and was most recently the president and CEO of Michigan-based H.C. Starck Solutions, a portfolio company of Advent International and The Carlyle Group, that provides a range of high-performance metal solutions. CarbiCrete

Dr. Megan Lee, managing director of Quantum City, an industry hub based at the University of Calgary, said UCalgary will soon open qHub, an innovative “collision” space where quantum technologies will be researched and applied to a variety of industry sectors. UCalgary launched a unique one-year Master of Quantum Computing program in January 2024, and also offers a graduate certificate and diploma in quantum computing. The Master’s program includes a work-integrated learning component with a four-month paid internship, and is accessible to STEM bachelor-program graduates. Quantum City is a collaboration involving UCalgary, the Government of Alberta, and Mphasis, a multinational information technology services and consulting company based in Bangalore, India. The aim is to build an ecosystem for quantum science research and technology application in Calgary. Calgary Economic Development

Kitchener, Ontario-based ICSPI announced the release of its new Redux AFM, a special kind of microscope called an atomic force microscope (AFM). Unlike traditional microscopes that use lenses and light to magnify an object, AFM uses a probe to feel the surface of the sample using a probe. As the probe moves along the sample's surface, a sensor measures how the probe responds to its atoms and molecules. The result is a detailed 3D map allowing researchers and scientists to see the sample at an atomic and molecular level. The company was founded in 2007 and is based on the PhD research of co-founder Neil Sarkar at the University of Waterloo under the supervision of Professor Raafat Mansour. Sarkar and Mansour are also co-founders of eye-tracking technology startup AdHawk. David Morris, director of operations at ICSPI, said it took 10 years of research and development at the university to commercialize the technology. The first AFMs were released in 1989 and were quickly adopted by researchers worldwide for science, engineering and medical research. While the AFMs provided unparalleled images, the hardware was slow, and scans could take days. ICSPI has solved these problems by miniaturizing all the moving parts of a traditional AFM microscope onto a single microchip. Tech News

A study led by Western University astrobiologist Catherine Neish shows the subsurface ocean of Titan – the largest moon of Saturn – is most likely a non-habitable environment, meaning any hope of finding life in the icy world is dead in the water. Neish, a member of Western’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration, said the finding means it is far less likely that space scientists and astronauts will ever find life in the outer solar system, home to the four “giant” planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In the study, published in the journal Astrobiology, Neish and her collaborators attempted to quantify the amount of organic molecules that could be transferred from Titan’s organic-rich surface to its subsurface ocean, using data from impact cratering. Comets impacting Titan throughout its history have melted the surface of the icy moon, creating pools of liquid water that have mixed with the surface organics. The resulting melt is denser than its icy crust, so the heavier water sinks through the ice, possibly all the way to Titan’s subsurface ocean. Using the assumed rates of impacts on Titan’s surface, Neish and her collaborators determined how many comets of different sizes would strike Titan each year over its history. This allowed the researchers to predict the flow rate of water carrying organics that travel from Titan’s surface to its interior. Neish and the team found the weight of organics transferred in this way is quite small, no more than 7,500 kilograms per year of glycine – the simplest amino acid, which makes up proteins in life. This is approximately the same mass as a male African elephant. (All biomolecules, like glycine, use carbon – an element – as the backbone of their molecular structure.) “One elephant per year of glycine into an ocean 12 times the volume of Earth’s oceans is not sufficient to sustain life,” Neish said. “In the past, people often assumed that water equals life, but they neglected the fact that life needs other elements, in particular carbon.” Western News



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