Highlights of Federal Budget 2016 (PDAD&C #46)

From: Meric Gertler, President
Date: March 24, 2016
Re: Highlights of Federal Budget 2016 (PDAD&C #46)

Tuesday’s federal budget brought some very welcome news to the postsecondary sector. Aligning closely with priorities advanced by U of T, this budget provides funding for new discovery research and infrastructure for universities and colleges. It also offers important enhancements to student aid, as well as new money for innovation networks and clusters, clean technology development, and experiential learning opportunities for our students.

For a research-intensive institution such as ours, this budget comes as particularly good news. It signals the government’s recognition that investment in students, research, and innovation is key to Canada’s wellbeing and prosperity. Following years of concerted advocacy by the University of Toronto, together with our colleagues from the U15 and Universities Canada, the results this week are indeed gratifying.

Moreover, the early signs suggest that we can look forward to further promising developments in the coming year, in at least three important areas. First, this year’s commitment of new resources to fundamental research has been described by many as a ‘down payment’ towards the government’s research and innovation agenda. Second, in his budget speech, Finance Minister Bill Morneau vowed to “put forward a new Innovation agenda which will outline a new vision for Canada’s economy as a center of global innovation, renowned for its science, technology, resourceful citizens, and globally competitive companies.” Third, Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan will undertake a comprehensive review of all elements of federal support for fundamental science over the coming year. The review will assess opportunities to increase the impact of federal support on Canada’s research excellence; examine the rationale for current targeting of granting councils’ funding; assess support for promising emerging research leaders; and ensure there is sufficient flexibility to respond to emerging research opportunities for Canada, including big science projects and other international collaborations.

These initiatives present our community with an unparalleled opportunity to shape the future direction of the federal government’s approach to research, innovation, and higher education.

The list below presents highlights of programs and funding commitments announced by the government in this week’s budget. For more information, consult the Summary of Key Measures from Budget 2016. We will share further details on these programs as they become available.



Research & Innovation

   Granting Councils & Research Support Fund

  • Budget 2016 provides an additional $95 million per year, starting in 2016–17, on an ongoing basis to the granting councils. Together with the funding in Budget 2015 of $46 million, a total of $141 million in new resources will be made available to the granting councils going forward. For 2016:
    • $30 million for CIHR
    • $30 million for NSERC
    • $16 million for SSHRC
    • $19 million for indirect costs of research


   Specific research program funding

  • Innovation Networks & Clusters $800 million
  • Canada Excellence Research Chairs $20 million to create two additional Canada Excellence Research Chairs in fields related to clean and sustainable technology.
  • Clean Technology Development $130 million over five years to support clean technology research, development and demonstration.
  • Genome Canada $237.2 million to the end of 2019–20.
  • Brain Canada up to $20 million for competitively awarded, collaborative, multidisciplinary brain research.
  • Stem Cell Network – up to $12 million over two years to support research, training and outreach activities.
  • International Space Station – up to $379 million to for the Canadian Space Agency to formalize negotiations with NASA to extend Canada’s participation to 2024.




   Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund

  • Up to $2 billion over three years, starting in 2016–17, to support up to 50% of the eligible costs of infrastructure projects.

Student Assistance and
Experiential Learning

   Student Aid

  • Increasing Canada Student Grant amounts by 50%.
  • Increasing the loan repayment threshold under the Canada Student Loans Program’s Repayment Assistance Plan to ensure no student will have to repay their Canada Student Loan until they are earning at least $25,000 per year.
  • Introducing a flat-rate student contribution to determine eligibility for Canada Student Loans and Grants to replace the current system of assessing student income and assets.
  • Eliminating the Education and Textbook Tax Credits in 2017.


   Post-Secondary Industry Partnership and
   Cooperative Placement Initiative

  • $73 million over four years to support partnerships between employers and post-secondary educational institutions including new co-op placements and work-integrated learning opportunities, with a focus on STEM and business fields.



  • $14 million over two years to Mitacs Globalink to support 825 internships and fellowships annually. This is in addition to the $56.4 million announced in Budget 2015 to expand the Accelerate program to support more than 6,000 new graduate-level research and development internships focused on business-related challenges.



   Canada 150

  • $150 million to the Regional Development Agencies over two years, starting in 2016–17, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.