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Highlights from Budget 2016

Highlights from Budget 2016

March 22, 2016

Finance Minister Bill Morneau today tabled the 2016 federal budget. Below are some highlights of interest to the Canadian library and information management community:

Access to Information

Enhancing Access to Information

Transparency includes providing Canadians with timely access to their own personal information held by government. To make it easier for Canadians to access government information, including their personal information, the Government proposes to create a simple, central website where Canadians can submit requests to any government institution. This will be backed up with a 30‑day guarantee for personal information requests: should a request take longer than 30 days to fulfill, the Government will provide a written explanation for the delay to the requester and to the Privacy Commissioner. Budget 2016 proposes to provide the Treasury Board Secretariat with $12.9 million over five years for these activities.

In addition, informed by consultations with the Information Commissioner and stakeholders, and advice from Parliamentarians, the Government will move forward on our commitments to revitalize access to information, including empowering the Information Commissioner to order government information to be released, and ensuring that the Access to Information Act applies appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as to administrative institutions that support the courts and Parliament.

Arts and Culture

Investing in Arts and Cultural Organizations

Investing in Canadian cultural and creative industries allows Canadian artists to share their stories at home and abroad. Budget 2016 provides $1.3 billion over five years, starting in 2016–17, to support longstanding arts and cultural organizations, as follows:

  • The Minister of Canadian Heritage will work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada to develop a five-year accountability plan. Budget 2016 proposes to invest $675 million in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada to disseminate and support world-class Canadian content and to provide Canadians with better access to programs and services in the digital era;
  • To foster the development of the arts in Canada through grants, services and awards to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations, as well as through scholarly awards, Budget 2016 proposes to invest $550 million in the Canada Council for the Arts;
  • To provide funding and promotion programs dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry, Budget 2016 proposes to provide Telefilm Canada with $22 million; and
  • To create social-issue documentaries, animation, and digital content, Budget 2016 proposes to provide the National Film Board of Canada with $13.5 million.

Achieving Long-term Sustainability for the CBC/Radio-Canada

For more than 75 years, the CBC/Radio-Canada has been a vital national institution that brings Canadians together, promotes and defends our two official languages and supports our shared culture and values.

An independent CBC/Radio-Canada continues to adapt to the changing broadcasting landscape and is transforming the way it engages with Canadians—providing us with high-quality relevant content how, where and when Canadians want it.

Reversing past cuts will enable the CBC/Radio-Canada to invest in its Strategy 2020: A space for us all priorities, leading to the creation of Canadian content which will be more digital, local and ambitious in scope.

To remain relevant and successful, the CBC/Radio-Canada needs to invest in new multi-platform content and more innovative programs. Restored funding will also support investment in enhanced services, such as the digitization of archives.

This Government is reinvesting and re-engaging with the CBC/Radio-Canada and will be working with it as it develops a new vision, mandate and accountability plan to ensure the institution’s long-term sustainability.

Investing in Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure

Cultural and recreational infrastructure—places like community centres, museums, parks and arenas—helps to make our communities feel like home. In many communities, these are the places where families can play together, where neighbours can meet, and where Canadians can celebrate the many cultures that make Canada so diverse.

To support these important parts of our communities, Budget 2016 proposes to invest $168.2 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, in the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. This Fund supports the renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities, and recipients would include not-for-profit arts and heritage organizations, provincial and territorial governments, municipalities and their agencies, and equivalent Indigenous peoples’ institutions.

In addition, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $150 million to the Regional Development Agencies over two years, starting in 2016–17. This funding, which is cost-shared with municipalities, community organizations and non-profit entities, will support projects to renovate, expand and improve existing community and cultural infrastructure in all regions of the country, including projects that advance a clean growth economy.

National Historic Sites

The National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program is delivered by the Parks Canada Agency and provides funding to non-federally owned or administered national historic sites to help protect nationally significant cultural infrastructure. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $20 million over two years, beginning in 2016–17, to the Parks Canada Agency to enhance the program, including expanding it to include heritage lighthouses and railways. This funding will help to ensure that Canada’s national historic sites are maintained for future generations.

Investing in Federal Cultural Infrastructure

As part of the federal infrastructure initiative in Chapter 2—Growth for the Middle Class, Budget 2016 proposes to make investments of up to $280.9 million over five years on a cash basis to support the infrastructure needs of three important Canadian cultural institutions:

  • $156.4 million over three years to support the expansion of the Canada Science and Technology Museum through the construction of a new collection and conservation centre to preserve and protect priceless Canadian heritage artifacts;
  • $114.9 million over two years to support the renewal of the National Arts Centre, which highlights Canada’s performing arts community; and
  • $9.6 million over two years to undertake needed repairs to the National Gallery of Canada, including its iconic windows.

These investments are in addition to the $168.2 million over two years for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, being proposed as part of the Government’s commitment to social infrastructure.

Supporting National Museums

Canada’s national museums are important cultural institutions that play a vital role in preserving Canada’s heritage, educating Canadians and inspiring innovation. For several years, Canada’s national museums have faced financial pressures that have impacted their ability to implement dynamic and important programs and exhibitions. Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $105.9 million over five years, with $6.1 million per year ongoing, to help Canada’s national museums address immediate operational and capital pressures. The allocation of this funding by institution will be announced at a future date.

Digital Economy

Improving Access for Rural Communities to the Digital Economy

Few jobs, sectors or aspects of life are untouched by information and communications technology. Access to better, more reliable broadband connections will provide Canadians in rural and remote communities with new opportunities to participate in the digital economy and to take advantage of advances in telehealth, e-learning and remote access to government services.

Budget 2016 proposes to deliver on the Government’s priority of increasing high-speed broadband coverage by investing up to $500 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, for a new program to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities.

Further details on program parameters will be announced in the coming months.

First Nations

Improving Primary and Secondary Education for First Nations Children

Improving the education outcomes of First Nations children living on reserve is critical to improve their quality of life and contribute to stronger communities. Currently, only 38 per cent of First Nations peoples aged 18-24 living on reserve have completed high school, compared to 87 per cent for non-Indigenous Canadians. While Budget 2014 announced funding of $1.25 billion over three years beginning in 2016–17 to support on reserve education, this funding was subsequently reduced in Budget 2015 to $241 million over the same period. This Government has committed to provide funding to make sure that every First Nations child receives a quality education.

To address the critical need to improve education outcomes, Budget 2016 proposes to make substantial investments in primary and secondary education on reserve, totalling $2.6 billion over five years starting in 2016–17, including the remaining funding previously announced in Budget 2014 for this purpose (Table 3.1). This includes funding to address immediate needs and to keep pace with cost growth over the medium term. Budget 2016 also proposes to invest in language and cultural programming. This programming recognizes the unique circumstances and needs of First Nations children and will enrich the classroom experience. Budget 2016 also proposes investments in literacy and numeracy programs and special needs education, which will contribute to improved education outcomes.

In order to achieve meaningful gains in education outcomes for First Nations, Budget 2016 proposes significant funding to support the transformation of the current on reserve education system through a respectful process of consultation and partnership with First Nations. In addition, the field of education is constantly evolving and the impact of policies on education outcomes should be closely measured and evaluated. Budget 2016 proposes funding for this purpose and to apply the latest education innovations to the First Nations context, including support for the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, which has a proven track record of significantly raising the literacy rate of First Nations children on reserve.

Ensuring Indigenous students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students also means ensuring Indigenous high school graduates can access post-secondary education. Many currently face a range of barriers in doing so. The Government will work with students, parents, educators and Indigenous groups to explore how to best ensure that students wishing to pursue post-secondary studies have the resources and supports they need to pursue their dreams and be full participants in the new global economy.

Fostering Better Learning Environments by Investing in First Nations Schools

The academic achievement of First Nations children, as well as their health and well-being, depends in large part on the quality of their schools. There is a significant need to repair and construct schools on reserve and ensure that they are adequately maintained. Budget 2016 proposes to invest $969.4 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, in First Nations education infrastructure on reserve.

Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy

The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy helps Indigenous peoples in all regions of the country to develop employment skills and pursue training for lasting employment. There is scope to enhance the training provided through this program in fields that would enable First Nations peoples to directly support their community needs, including in housing construction, water treatment, child care, and local administration. Budget 2016 proposes to invest $15 million over two years, beginning in 2016–17, to launch a pilot project to enhance training that aligns with community needs.

The proposed investments in Budget 2016 are the first phase of a renewed and expanded Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Over the next year, the Government will consult with stakeholders, including Indigenous organizations and employers, in order to work towards a renewed and expanded Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy.

Investing in Social Infrastructure to Create Inclusive Growth

Investing in social infrastructure in Indigenous communities is a key pillar of the Government of Canada’s strategy to create inclusive growth. Investments in social infrastructure can contribute to improving the quality of life of Indigenous communities—by ensuring people have quality housing, improved access to early learning and child care, better health, cultural and recreational infrastructure. Over the next five years, the Government proposes to invest $1.2 billion in support of social infrastructure in First Nations, Inuit and Northern communities. The proposed investments are part of the first phase of the Government’s 10-year plan to invest in social infrastructure and position Canada for sustained long-term, inclusive growth. The second phase of this 10-year plan will include additional investments in social infrastructure for Indigenous communities.

Investing in Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure

In First Nations communities, cultural and recreational infrastructure can provide an important focal point for community activities. To support the construction of cultural and recreational infrastructure on reserve, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $76.9 million over two years, beginning in 2016–17.

Government Services

Government of Canada Service Strategy

The Government is committed to making it easier to access government services online and to establishing new performance standards for federal services. To support this commitment, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $17.8 million over five years to the Treasury Board Secretariat to support the development of a Government of Canada client-first service strategy and to complete the migration of government websites to Canada.ca.

Transforming Government Back Office Systems

Federal government departments and agencies currently have their own human resources management, financial management and information management platforms. This myriad of platforms makes it difficult to assemble enterprise-wide data for Canadians, and to achieve value for money through back office efficiencies. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $75.2 million over two years to support the replacement of these platforms with Government-wide systems. Once completed, this back office transformation initiative is expected to result in significantly lower annual costs to operate and maintain these functions, and will help deliver better services to Canadians.

Open Government

Expanding Open Data Initiatives

The Government is committed to accelerating and expanding open data initiatives and to better involving Canadians in policy-making. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $11.5 million over five years to double the Treasury Board Secretariat’s budget for open government activities. This funding will allow the Treasury Board Secretariat to enhance its capacity to support engagement with Canadians, to design and deliver an ambitious open government strategy and to accelerate the provision of digital content.

Research

Strategic Infrastructure Investments at Post Secondary Institutions

The prosperity of Canadians relies on the ability of the country to attract and retain talented people, boost innovation and build a sustainable economy. The quality of infrastructure at Canadian post-secondary institutions plays a key role in these efforts. Through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Canada already makes significant investments in research infrastructure at Canada’s universities, colleges and research hospitals. Provinces and territories also provide substantial funding for campus renewal every year. Nonetheless, much of Canada’s post-secondary infrastructure is over 25 years old and nearing the end of its useful life. This presents an opportunity to invest in greener and more innovation-friendly spaces.

Recognizing the value to Canada of strong post-secondary institutions, Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $2 billion over three years, starting in 2016–17, for a new Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, a time-limited initiative that will support up to 50 per cent of the eligible costs of infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions and affiliated research and commercialization organizations, in collaboration with provinces and territories. This initiative is aimed at enhancing and modernizing research and commercialization facilities on Canadian campuses, as well as industry-relevant training facilities at college and polytechnic institutions, and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environmental sustainability of these types of facilities.

These targeted, short-term investments in infrastructure projects will promote economic activity across the country and benefits for the Canadian economy and society well into the future. Work is underway, in consultation with the provinces and territories, to implement this initiative as quickly as possible.

Examples of Eligible Projects Under the New Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund

The new Fund will support investments of the following types:

  • A university could convert under-utilized space into new research labs that advance its excellence in a specialized field of strength;
  • A college could modernize or create sector-specific training facilities, including capacity for advanced areas such as Red Seal trades;
  • On-campus incubators and accelerators could be expanded to increase and improve support for entrepreneurs and start-ups as they develop strategies to grow their business;
  • College and university facilities that support prototype development or proof-of-principle assessment could receive investments in order to better serve the needs of industry partners; and
  • Post-secondary institutions could retrofit existing buildings for research and development or advanced training activities with more energy efficient heating systems and pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

Strengthening Canada’s World-Class Research Capacity and Excellence

Research at Canadian post-secondary institutions and research hospitals creates new insights and leads to the technology breakthroughs of tomorrow that help to respond to major economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities. The Government understands that the creation of knowledge and development of highly qualified people are vital for Canada’s prosperity in the global economy.

Budget 2016 is taking action to support the excellence of Canadian research by investing in discovery research through the granting councils and providing additional support to world-class researchers and institutions.

Recognizing the fundamental role of investigator-led discovery research in an innovative society, Budget 2016 proposes to provide an additional $95 million per year, starting in 2016–17, on an ongoing basis to the granting councils—the highest amount of new annual funding for discovery research in more than a decade. These funds will be allocated as follows:

  • $30 million for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research;
  • $30 million for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council;
  • $16 million for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; and
  • $19 million for the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs borne by post-secondary institutions in undertaking federally sponsored research.

Together with the funding provided to the granting councils in Budget 2015 of $46 million in 2016–17 and ongoing, a total of $141 million in new annual resources will be made available to the granting councils going forward.

Ensuring Federal Support for Research Is Strategic and Effective

To ensure that federal support for research, including through the granting councils, is strategic and effective, Budget 2016 also announces that the Minister of Science will undertake a comprehensive review of all elements of federal support for fundamental science over the coming year. In order to strengthen the granting councils and Canada’s research ecosystem, the review will:

  • Assess opportunities to increase the impact of federal support on Canada’s research excellence and the benefits that flow from it;
  • Examine the rationale for current targeting of granting councils’ funding and bring greater coherence to the diverse range of federal research and development priorities and funding instruments;
  • Assess the 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.

Young Canada Works

A Renewed Youth Employment Strategy

Each year the Government invests more than $330 million in the Youth Employment Strategy to help young people gain the skills, abilities and work experience they need to find and maintain good employment.

To expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, Budget 2016 proposes to invest an additional $165.4 million in the Youth Employment Strategy in 2016–17.

Funding will be used to:

  • create new green jobs for youth, to help young Canadians gain valuable work experience, learn about our natural environment and contribute to economic growth in environmental sectors;
  • increase the number of youth who access the Skills Link program, which helps young Canadians—including Indigenous and disabled youth—make a more successful transition to the workforce; and
  • increase job opportunities for young Canadians in the heritage sector, under the Young Canada Works program.

This funding would be in addition to the $339 million already announced for the Canada Summer Jobs program, to be delivered over three years, starting in 2016–17.

Going forward, the Government will make additional investments in the Youth Employment Strategy in 2017–18 and 2018–19. These investments will be targeted toward supporting employment opportunities for vulnerable youth.

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