Madam Speaker, I rise today in the House with great pride as Minister of State for Science and Technology and as the member of Parliament for Cambridge and North Dumfries. I am here to speak on our government's strong support for science, technology and research.
Our government understands clearly that Canada's long-term economic competitiveness depends on supporting science, technology and innovation that will drive the growth of jobs, the growth of our economy and long-term prosperity for our citizens. It has been a fundamental priority of our government since we took office in 2006, including with the introduction of the science and technology strategy in 2007.
Over the past five years, our government has been implementing that strategy significantly and with commitment. It has provided nearly $8 billion in additional, new investments in Canadian talent, world-class research excellence, and the linkages between knowledge and the capacity to innovate in a global economy. Federal science and technology expenditures reached $11.3 billion in 2011-12, more than double the year before we took office. That is a significant increase by any imagination.
These investments have helped drive Canadian leadership in research, science and technology, and enhanced the ability to turn ideas into social and economic benefits for Canadians. Indeed, according to the Science, Technology and Innovation Council's “State of the Nation” report published in June 2011, Canada ranks first among all the G7 countries for higher education and research, and Canada's scientists perform at a world-class level.
OECD data notes that Canada produces 2.7% of the world's scientific output and 6.8% of the world's top cited research papers. Getting that scientific data out there at this level means that we are punching well above our weight, especially given that Canada accounts for only half a percent of the world's population. I would also note that Canada ranks first among the OECD countries for its share of working-age population with college and university degrees.
We have systematically enhanced federal support for advanced research. We are promoting partnerships between industry and academia through our three federal granting councils, namely the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
We are supporting research in human health and genomics technology through Genome Canada as well as studies to improve patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness of health care. We are promoting the development of alternative technologies for producing medical isotopes and linking Canadian researchers to the world through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Moreover, we are providing significant support for leading-edge research infrastructure. Two budgets ago, the investment made in the Canada Foundation for Innovation was three-quarters of a billion dollars and in this budget it is half a billion dollars. We are investing in Canada's ultra high-speed research network CANARIE, satellite data reception facilities, Canada's continued participation in the international space station mission and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. As well, we are supporting key activities in fisheries, agriculture and environmental sciences.
Beyond this, our government is also investing in institutions that are pushing the frontier of pure, basic knowledge and research. I am talking about the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which leveraged significant private sector money for their work that is going to benefit not only Canada but all the nations around the world.
Canada's history of discovery, I am very pleased to say, tells us that we play an important role on the world stage through research and development. From the pacemaker to Canadarm to the first mass market smart phone, Canadian entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses have made their mark time and again and proven they can be world-class innovators.
Our government is committed to helping these types of breakthroughs happen. We know Canadians want results for their investments. This means bringing innovative products and processes to the marketplace, which of course will in turn create high-quality, high-paying jobs, economic growth, long-term prosperity and, indeed, a better quality of life for Canadians.
However, we also know that competition remains fierce. The pace of technological change is lightning quick, and it is happening in both developed and emerging economies. This means that to ensure Canada's long-term economic competitiveness, we must create and nurture globally competitive businesses that do research, develop that research, innovate and create those high-quality jobs.
Beyond our borders, no one would be surprised if I said the global economic growth remains quite tentative and fragile. Any potential setbacks would have a negative impact on Canada. Canadian businesses face ever-increasing competition, not just from the emerging countries and the speed of technological advancement but also because of realities associated with our aging population and demographic shifts.
Now as a world leader in post-secondary research with a highly skilled workforce, Canada has some very strong fundamentals for innovation. Where we can do better is in our support of business expenditures on research and development. Canada continues to lag behind other peer nations in this sense. We are number one in a number of ways, but where we are not number one is in this particular area.
That is exactly why, with so many generous incentive programs for business research, we asked an expert panel led by Mr. Tom Jenkins to review all the federal investments in this area and provide advice on how we could optimize this expenditure of tax dollars.
Now through the response of this expert panel this particular budget, economic action plan 2012, takes a huge step forward at creating a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will deliver high-quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances.
It builds on our positive record of achievement to help further unleash the potential of Canadian scientists, Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in a modern economy to the benefit of all Canadians.
By focusing on the drivers of growth and job creation, which clearly are innovation, investments, education, skills and training and healthy communities, we will solidify, strengthen and draw upon the entrepreneurial sector's role as the driving force behind Canada's economy.
Economic action plan proposes a new approach to federal support for innovation, including $67 million new dollars to the National Research Council to refocus this council and all its efforts and its expertise towards business-driven industry-relevant applied research. This refocused NRC will help more Canadian businesses commercialize and develop innovative products and services.
We intend to build on a proven approach that we have seen used by global innovation players, carefully adapted and modified to the Canadian reality. The government's new approach also increases direct support for innovation and research by doubling the research and development assistance from the NRC's industrial research and assistance program.
Furthermore, our new approach in this budget supports innovation through procurement by connecting Canadian companies with federal departments and agencies to build their capacity to again compete in the global marketplace. We go on. This approach also seeks to help our high-growth firms to access risk capital by committing $400 million to leverage private sector investments in early venture capital stages.
It would support, indeed, private and public research collaboration through more internships for graduate students and funding of business-led research and development networks.
It would streamline the SR&ED tax incentive program and, as always, reinvest any savings in other support programs that would reinforce innovation in Canada.
These important measures would be aimed at building our innovation economy and driving improved competitiveness and prosperity for the betterment of all Canadians as we move into the future.
I will turn to a different topic. That is this government's ongoing support and commitment to basic science. The notion that the government is abandoning basic research is yet another fearmongering tactic by the opposition, which is irresponsible. The notion is completely false. I want to repeat that. Even someone with minimal mathematics would see that our increases show our commitment.
Through budget 2012, our government would build, yet again, on earlier investments by proposing significant new resources to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, half a billion dollars to support advanced research and leading-edge scientific infrastructure in universities, colleges, research hospitals and other not-for-profit research institutions all across Canada. This funding would play a crucial role in attracting and retaining the world's top minds, training the next generation of researchers and, of course, driving cutting-edge research.
As well, it is important to hear that Canada's economic plan, our budget that is before the House right now, would also commit a new $37 million annually to the three granting councils to enhance their support for research partnerships between industry and academia. Support for core granting council programs in support of discovery research and support for students would all be maintained. To suggest there would be a decrease is, again, false. In fact, I can tell this House that this would mean, on average, more than a 20% increase for the granting councils since we have taken office.
In terms of other investments made in budget 2012, we would also provide new funding for research in human health and genomics technologies through an enormous amount of support to Genome Canada.
We have invested heavily in research infrastructure at Canada's post-secondary institutions. This came out in budget 2009, which was also voted against by the NDP. In that budget, we provided $2 billion for research and advanced learning infrastructure at universities and colleges. Laboratories and all kinds of new state-of-the-art equipment would come from the three-quarters of a billion dollars I mentioned earlier, through CFI.
Now, the good news here is that this funding was leveraged by the provinces and other private individuals, the colleges and universities, and ended up being about $5 billion in support of rebuilding our research capacity all across our nation, which we need to attract and retain the brightest minds the planet has to offer.
The government is maintaining Canada's position as a world-leading supporter of research while strengthening one area that needs to be improved, results-driven applied research and development.
In doing so, this absolutely does not mean we are stepping back from our commitment in any other area. In fact, this is Canada. We can do more than one thing at a time. I believe firmly that our government can fund research across the board, as we have shown consistently, consecutively in every single budget. It is support for the basic, the applied, and all the way through to commercialization and marketization, getting those ideas out of the minds of our scientists, through our laboratories, on to our factory floors and into the living rooms and hospitals of the world. That is exactly what our government is doing.
Since coming to office, we have also introduced significant new investments in other areas. We have turned around Canada's brain drain and now have a brain gain. We have introduced such brilliant initiatives as the Banting post-doctoral fellowships program, the Vanier Canada graduate scholarships program and the Canada excellence research chairs program, attracting world-class talent and teams that have come to Canada to do their research.
We recognize also the importance of science and technology in forming public policies. That is exactly why the government, all the time, seeks the opinions from our scientists, through various independent as well as published scientific advice forums and a variety of sources. For instance, we have sustained the Council of Canadian Academies with a $30 million grant. The CCA conducts independent science-based assessments drawing together panels of experts to inform us on public policy initiatives. To date, the council has published 11 different science-based assessments on issues of importance to Canada and our citizens. Through the CCA and other bodies such as the Science, Technology and Innovation Council, the Government of Canada demonstrates its commitment to independent science and its crucial role in informing decision making.
Within the federal government, our scientists play an important role in informing policy decisions, assisting the enforcement of regulations and facilitating program delivery. Indeed, the multidimensional contribution of government science is critical to good governance. Federal scientists here in Canada are among the best in the world. These public officials are encouraged to publish regularly in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and many of them do just that.
Federally funded scientific knowledge is also shared directly with the public through other means. For example, science-based departments and agencies regularly produce accessible publications, highlighting research activities and findings. Second, public portals are available, such as science.gc.ca. It is a website we have developed to communicate information on federal science directly to Canadians.
I am very proud that our scientists participate in conferences and lectures all around the world. They are sought after for their expertise and innovations and they give thousands of interviews every year.
I must reiterate that funding for core federal granting councils aimed at supporting discovery-driven research is continuing. Our history supports that; our future will see that. We are also supporting student scholarship programs. Moreover, 2012-13 savings realized from operational efficiencies, or from reallocated funding from lower priority programs, are being fully reinvested back into granting councils' activities that they deem will help strengthen their activities.
We will ensure continued and growing funding for the programs and services that are priorities for Canadians. Economic action plan 2012 makes a wide range of important investments that bear witness to that commitment. These actions will yield real dividends for Canadians. They will support a return to balanced budgets at an appropriate pace as the economy continues to recover from the global crises. Three years after the stimulus phase of Canada's economic action plan was launched in response to that crisis, our economic recovery is advancing and of course it is clear that our policies are working.
I want to let the House know that scientific discoveries and new technologies are very important to a stronger economy. We are very proud of our scientists, which is why we have invested historically in science and technology and why it has been a pivotal point of all of our budgets, including this one.
Once again I would ask the opposition to support our recent budget and for once show its support for scientists, students and researchers.