Quebec, BC Budgets contain modest R&D funding hikes

Guest Contributor
March 8, 2007

The Quebec government has followed through on its commitment to the new Research and Innovation Strategy (RIS) with $58.3 million in implementation funding. The new funding was contained in the Liberal government's pre-election Budget, which contained no new measures for S&T or innovation. The RIS was released last fall (R$, December 11/06).

Funding for the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation & Export Trade was boosted $58.8 million to $755.3 million for FY07-08, allowing for increases to the province's support plan for the forest sector ($38.5 million) and regional economic development ($48 million).

It's likely that a post-election Budget will be tabled this spring if, as expected, the Charest government wins a second mandate. The current Finance minister is retiring, and a new Finance minister will want to put his own stamp on the province's finances.

The university community is hoping that Budget may contain relief for its increasingly dire financial situation. In February, the presidents of Quebec's four research-intensive universities called on the government to address its underfunding dilemma with fiscal measures that go beyond those contained in the RIS.

BC boosts advanced ed funding

In British Columbia, continuing economic prosperity translated into a modest increase to the budget of the Ministry of Advanced Education (the current home of the government's S&T initiatives). The Budget increases the ministry's base budget by $5 million, including $3 million for the BC Innovation Council. No details were provided for how the new funding is to be spent.

The Throne Speech preceding the Budget contained more details on the government's future S&T intentions. It announced a new $25-million Innovative Clean Energy Fund to encourage the commercialization of alternative energy solutions such as bioenergy, geothermal energy, tidal, solar, and wind power. However, the Budget did not contain any additional information on when the new program may be funded and launched.


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