Posted March 22, 2011
In a climate of fiscal restraint against a commitment to return Canada to a balanced budget by 2016, the Federal Government nevertheless continued to make modest investments in the Digital Economy Strategy (DES) in its 2011 Budget.
The issue of Canada’s chronic under-use of information and communications technology in all sectors of the economy, especially the small and mid-sized business segment, is a central area of focus for the DES. This Budget has allocated an additional $80 million over the next three years to enable the NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to help small business accelerate their adoption of ICTs through collaborative projects with colleges.
Talent is another key plank in the DES. Canada has fallen well behind most other OECD nations in its graduation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates. Budget 2011 indicates that HRSDC will reallocate $60 million in existing funding to promote enrollment in these key disciplines over the next three years.
And, of course, digital content is another critical component of the DES. The 2011 Budget allocates $100 million per year to the Canada Media Fund, which invests in the creation of digital content across multiple platforms including television, applications for the internet, wireless and other emerging platforms.
The government will also continue to invest in public research allocating an additional $37 million to support the federal research granting councils including NSERC and CIHR. The Budget further announces the Government’s intention to invest an additional $53.5 million between now and 2016 in the creation of 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs.
The Budget also extends the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance rate for manufacturing machinery equipment for an additional two years to 2014.
There were no additional measures on either broadband infrastructure or SR&ED reform in this Budget. The Expert Panel on Government Support for R&D will make its report later in the year so no changes to SR&ED are anticipated before that. And the DES itself will be released in the spring and may potentially include further measures on broadband and spectrum.
"In its most recent Budget, the Québec Government included a Digital Economy Strategy as a key priority, emphasizing its importance to productivity and Québec’s economic future. Canadians from coast to coast will be looking forward to the unveiling of our national Digital Economy Strategy," said Bernard Courtois, President and CEO of ITAC.