BUDGET 2010: Innovation, technology, green initiatives - Macleans.ca

BUDGET 2010: Innovation, technology, green initiatives

Nuclear industry gets big boost


BUDGET 2010: Innovation, technology, green initiativesThe single-largest item in the budget envelope dedicated to green initiatives is earmarked for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. The government will provide the crown corporation with $300 million in cash this year to cover commercial losses, the development of advanced CANDU reactors, and operations and upgrades at the Chalk River facility, which produces medical isotopes.

In all, spending on nuclear industry-related projects takes up over 70 per cent of the total amount dedicated to environmental initiatives. Other projects have comparatively meager allowances. They include $100 million over four years for the development of clean energy technologies in the forestry sector and $8 million per year to clean up the most degraded areas of the Great Lakes.  The government also plans to spend $11.4 million over two years on meteorological and navigational systems in the Arctic, and another $8 million over two years has been earmarked to pay for community-based environmental monitoring in the North.

Politicians and economists like to link green initiatives with the ability to create and implement innovative technologies. Wednesday’s Throne Speech specifically promised to bolster science and technology spending in order “fuel the ingenuity of Canada’s best and brightest and bring innovative products to market.”

But Canadian adoption of new technologies has long lagged that of its international competitors and has been a drag on Canadian firms’ productivity. As a result, Thursday’s budget promises a wholesale re-evaluation of the federal government’s spending on research and development. According to budget documents, “this review will inform future decisions regarding federal support for R&D.”

In the meantime, however, the government is bolstering the budgets of several research and development agencies. For instance, the National Research Council’s regional innovation clusters program will be able to count on $135 million in government funding over the next two years to develop 11 “technology clusters” across all 10 provinces.  Ottawa will also double the operating budget of the College and Community Innovation Program to $30 million a year and boost the budgets of the three federal research granting councils (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) by a combined $32 million a year.

More specific government targets for innovation funds include British Columbia’s TRIUMF laboratory for nuclear and particle physics research, who will see an extra $51 million in funding over two years, and Genome Canada, which will be the beneficiary of a one-time payment this year worth $75 million.


BUDGET 2010: Innovation, technology, green initiatives

  1. And what are you going to do with the toxic waste? Store it for 10,000 years? Nuclear is an easy way out but shows no responsibility toward green at all. Nuclear is not green in any sense of the word unless putrid is the new green.

  2. Gee, that's a great plan.

  3. That, at least, is good. Funding maintained for R&D, and focusing the "green" initiative on the one thing that actually does help – nuclear – rather on impractical fads like solar or limiting emissions.

    • Nuclear never was, is not and never will be green! It is a dying and "death dealing" fad! Solar, wind and other alternatives have already succeeded beyond any thing pronukes have ever dreamed about nuclear. Indeed, why is the pro-nuke establishment trying to piggy back on the really true safe green energy revolution?

      • Anselm, there is new nuclear technology on the horizon that uses Helium rather than water for cooling. This system promises to be able to utilize uranium to its final decay point of lead. Apparently it is also capable of using plutonium from spent rods, which would be a great solution for getting rid of this terribly hazardous material. So greener nuclear may be on the horizon.

        The issue that baffles me is how everyone misses the importance of energy costs in our economy. Everybody realizes that recessions and inflation result from price spikes in oil and that our Nation is at the mercy of the global market. After price spikes, the government is not able to assist its citizen’s with their hardships of escalating food and gas prices and the inflationary diminution of their life savings nor prevent the economic downturn resulting from the reduced collective purchasing power of consumers. With commodity markets susceptible to geopolitical instability and being at or close to Peak Oil, it would seem prudent for any government to have a comprehensive fast-track strategy of getting to energy self-sufficiency for all Canada and thereby have some economic resilience to global oil prices.

        A comprehensive strategy would include the whole mix of energy savings/efficiency (mass transit, urban planning and reconstruction), energy technologies (wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, NH3, methane, biomass from non-edible sources, etc.) and distribution systems, personal, community, stranded systems and smart grids.

        Maybe the government doesn’t think we need any insurance for global warming but another price spike (or continually rising oil prices, if we are at Peak) is our economic Achilles heal and a government that does not address this vulnerability is putting Canada at risk, even within the 5-year plan of this last budget.

        And yes, such a comprehensive energy self-sufficiency strategy could enable us to reduce GHG emissions, encourage widespread innovation and development, employ lots of people, increase the collective wealth of Canadian society and possibly even sell some additional energy south of the border.

        In terms of infrastructural development, this could be far more important to our future than the development of our road system but, most importantly, it is something that we can do for our future generations.

    • Agreed, Gaunlion. One good nuclear facility will outproduce all the faddish green projects combined. Instead of being diverted into unreliable, uneconomic gadgetry research funds should go to improving Candu as a stopgap energy supplier, with fusion power as the ultimate goal, greener than green.