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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It is that time of year again, flowers are in bloom, farmers are revving their engines, NHL playoffs are in full swing and there is the scent of money in the air….or not. In a three week period the federal, Saskatchewan and Manitoba governments tabled their 2017-18 budgets and while restraint was on the menu, deficits were served. This may have left a bitter taste in the mouths of some, it’s clear that some belt tightening is order, at least for the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The federal budget, titled “Building a Strong Middle Class,” instead of the anticipated “Innovation Budget,” is the second consecutive Liberal budget to exceed a $25 billion deficit. In regards to science and innovation, not much new was offered over the 2016-17 budget other than an additional $150 million added to $800 million targeted for the supercluster program over a 5-year period. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the details about these hubs of innovation. Details of a new $1.26 billion Strategic Innovation Fund, targeted to increase investment by businesses and create jobs, will be announced in the coming months and it’s anticipated that it will support the emerging sectors of cleantech and agri-food.  All in all, agriculture is being set up as a primary sector for driving the wealth creation and the Canadian economy for years to come.

The Manitoba budget was the second tabled by the conservative government and featured a series of modest changes and a small increase in spending. The department of Growth, Enterprise and Trade took a $4 million hit which resulted in a 12% reduction to Research Manitoba and a consolidation of much of the support for third party organizations into the Partnership for Economic Growth program. $3 million in provincial Growing Forward 2 money will help the Grain Innovation Hub to support research and development that will grow the livestock sector.

The Saskatchewan budget was also supportive of agriculture and research and development with only minor changes tabled. However, a 5.6% cut to the universities translated to an 11% cut the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

Outside of our region, the Government of Québec’s balanced budget, announced $2.5 billion over the next five year for research and innovation. Genome Québec was allocated $40 million dedicated to the area of ​​personalized health care. This amount is in addition to previous provincial contributions for innovation in the areas of sustainable development, forestry and agri-food, which will be sector priorities for Genome Québec in the coming years.

Genome British Columbia received $20 million in additional provincial funding specifically to focus on human health. Not including this latest contribution, the province has provided Genome British Columbia with $221.5 million since 2001.