Federal S&T spending continues to rise as a share of overall government spending

Guest Contributor
December 22, 2003

Federal expenditures on S&T are slated to increase 6.8% in FY03-04 to $8.5 billion, a respectable rate of growth compared to the year before but far less than the impressive 21.8% increase between FY00-01 and FY01-02. S&T spending now accounts for 4.9 cents of every federal dollar spent while R&D accounts for 3.1 cents, compared to 3.7 cents and 2.9 cents respectively in FY93-94.

The projection of federal S&T spending is contained in the latest findings by Statistics Canada based on its own survey of federal departments and agencies and the Main Budget Estimates released earlier this year. S&T spending in the 10 years covered by the report increased 43.7% from $5.95 billion to $8.55 billion while overall government expenditures as contained in the main estimates increased just 9.2% from $161.1 billion to $175.9 billion.

During the same period, the data show that federal support to universities has grown the most rapidly of all sectors, from $983 million in FY93-94 to $1.87 billion in FY02-03 before spiking 23.7% in FY03-04 to $2.3 billion. Universities now account for 27.1% of federal S&T spending, compared to 16.9% in FY93-94 and 18.8% in FY99-00.


The federal government itself continues to be the largest beneficiary of federal S&T expenditures, with $4.6 billion or 53.2% of the FY03-04 total. R&D accounts for $2.2 billion or 39.7% of all federal R&D support.

The three largest performers of federal S&T are the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) ($775 million), the National Research Council ($722 million) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research ($651 million). Of the line departments, Environment Canada accounts for $617 million in spending, followed by Statistics Canada ($561 million), Natural Resources Canada ($502 million) and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada ($381 million).

The granting councils, particularly NSERC and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) show large increases for FY03-04. SSHRC is experiencing a whopping 134.7% annual increase this year, from $202 million to $474 million. But nearly all of the increase represents flow-through funding from the permanent programs for indirect costs ($225 million) and SSHRC’s portion of the Canada Research Chairs ($24 million) and Canada Graduate Scholarships ($15 million).

Federal S&T spending performing sector

($ millions)
PerformerAmount %
Higher Education2,31427.1
Canadian Businesses1,0729.9
Cdn Non-profit Institutions2683.1
Other Canadian1181.4

Canadian non-profit institutions have done increasingly well in recent years attracting federal S&T funding. In FY-03-04 the sector received $268 million, well above FY02-03 when it received $183 million but off from the historic high of $401 million in FY01-02. In the last three years, the sector has received nearly as much ($852 million) as the previous seven years combined ($909 million).

The ratio of federal S&T spending devoted to the natural sciences has remained relatively constant over the past 10 years. In FY93-94, it accounted for 77.7% of spending, while in FY03-04, it dropped slightly to 76.2%.

The StatCan bulletin also breaks down federal R&D spending by socio-economic objective. Industrial production and technology command the largest single share with $905 million, followed by public health ($861 million), non-oriented research ($466 million), agriculture ($540 million), production, distribution and rational utilization of energy ($365 million) and exploration and exploitation of space ($338 million).

In addition to R&D, the federal government funds and performs related scientific activity (RSA). In FY03-04 it totalled $3.1 billion with data collection accounting for $1.4 billion or 46.0%. Information services was the next largest category at $768 million, followed by special services and studies ($516 million) and educational support ($189 million).



($ millions)
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada368459351387363337385381
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd240174135132136178148143
Canada Foundation for Innovation--231118188239359433
Cdn Institutes of Health Research------317392529633651
Cdn International Devt Agency339303314335358387310333
Canadian Space Agency253230343305310330329307
Environment Canada456453427538479626594617
Fisheries and Oceans246204281287367319338319
Genome Canada----------345084
Health Canada214210204236229311337351
Industry Canada291407343301336687422471
International Devt Research Centre8878858284768485
Medical Research Council242238238277--------
National Defence253311304335315315307332
National Research Council479524554597655719770722
Natural Resources Canada430396386421437554480502
Statistics Canada535400437461576727593561
Source: Statistics Canada - Science Statistics Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 8

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