Budget 2016: A Step Forward for Innovation

This year, Finance Minister Bill Morneau put his best foot forward by purchasing a new pair of shoes in advance of the release of the Liberal government’s first budget. The uniquely Canadian tradition is often an indicator of priorities in the new budget, which this year include a focus on increasing opportunities for innovation and discovery in the life sciences. 

Here are a few highlights from this year's budget that are a great “step” toward improving the outlook of Canadian innovation and healthcare: 

Encouraging growth through innovation: The budget included provisions to spur innovation, including the introduction of a new cross-government “Innovation Agenda:” 

In Budget 2016 the Government is defining a new vision for Canada’s economy: to build Canada as a centre of global innovation. Canada will be propelled by its creative and entrepreneurial citizens; its leading science and technology; its excellent innovation infrastructure; and its globally competitive companies offering high-quality products and services, thriving within a business environment that supports commercialization and growth. Through 2016 and 2017, the Government will define a bold new plan, its Innovation Agenda, to achieve this vision (p. 109).

Mention of the “swift ratification” of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is encouraging. This is a step in the right direction in securing a more stable and predictable intellectual property environment, which is critical in advancing an Innovation Agenda for the country (p. 126).

Building partnerships in the life sciences: With a renewed focus on the value of scientific research, Budget 2016 recognizes the crucial role that public-private partnerships and innovation play in improving Canada’s economic and healthcare outlook. Such investments put Canada on a path toward a stronger, more collaborative, knowledge-based economy. This year’s budget announced a series of collaborations aimed at strengthening Canada’s research and post-secondary institutions. Recipients of this funding included Genome Canada, the Centre for Drug Research and Development, the Stem Cell Network and the Brain Canada Foundation (p. 113 - 115) .

Supporting business growth and innovation: As part of the Innovation Agenda, $800 million will be provided over four years, starting in 2017-2018, to support innovation networks and clusters.  This is a great opportunity for the lifesciences ecosystems and corridors in Canada to optimize their potential (p.120).

We look forward to contributing to the consultation process in support of Canada’s Innovation Agenda, and appreciate this Government’s open and collaborative approach to stakeholder engagement.