On March 28, Canada’s Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, released A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future.
The 2023 Federal Budget is built on three pillars:
- Making Life More Affordable
- Stronger Public Health and Dental Care
- Growing a Green Economy
OSPE has identified the following areas of Budget 2023 that are of the greatest interest to our membership:
Canada’s government is investing over $33 billion to fund public infrastructure projects nationwide, which are critical for strengthening our communities. Provinces and territories submit proposals to Infrastructure Canada for review under this program.
In 2017, the Smart Cities Challenge was launched to incentivize cities to adopt new and innovative approaches to enhance the quality of life for their residents. In the first round of the challenge, four winning applicants – Montreal, Quebec; Guelph, Ontario; communities of Nunavut; and Bridgewater, Nova Scotia – received a combined $75 million in prizes. This initiative promotes the adoption of modern technology and creative solutions to improve city life across the country.
Responsible Allocation of Resources
OSPE acknowledges that funding infrastructure projects is a worthwhile and sustainable investment. Nevertheless, OSPE strongly advocates for prudent spending and the need to make tough choices when approving infrastructure projects. OSPE emphasizes that all levels of government should make infrastructure decisions based on factual evidence, weighing the needs of the various regions of the country, and in consultation with engineers to minimize environmental impacts.
Infrastructure Projects Framework
OSPE advocates for the development of a clear and transparent framework in Canada that outlines the prioritization, sequencing, and funding of infrastructure projects, including the funding mechanisms and models. We recommend that this framework be jointly developed by all levels of government, industry stakeholders, community organizations, and other relevant parties.
Public Procurement to Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Public procurement policy should be leveraged to promote diversity and inclusion in engineering. By requesting that firms disclose their diversity and inclusion initiatives and policies as part of the bid process, public sector buyers can support greater equity and inclusion in engineering without compromising quality or increasing costs, and ensure these investments reflect the diversity of Canada’s communities. Read our public procurement policy reports for more information.
Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) Framework
To ensure transparency and maximize value for investment in all public infrastructure investments, it is crucial to adopt a Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) framework. By using QBS as the preferred method for selecting consultants, the government can ensure that its infrastructure projects provide the highest return on investment and an overall better deal for taxpayers.
Life-Cycle Costing for All Projects
To optimize the value of infrastructure projects and ensure the responsible use of taxpayer funds, it is imperative that Canada accurately reports and considers life-cycle costing for all projects. By doing so, Canada can ensure that its infrastructure projects deliver long-term benefits at a reasonable cost.
Public Infrastructure Projects
Funding public infrastructure projects will create job opportunities for engineers in various fields, including civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. Increased funding will support the development of numerous infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, water supply systems, and transportation networks, which engineers will be tasked with designing and managing. Increased funding will also provide opportunities for engineers to innovate and develop new technologies that will improve the efficiency and sustainability of public infrastructure projects.
The Smart Cities Challenge
This challenge will encourage engineers to develop new and innovative approaches to improve the quality of life for residents. Engineers will be challenged to design and implement infrastructure projects that incorporate advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart sensors. This challenge encourages innovation and creativity among engineers, as they will be required to think outside the box to develop solutions that address the unique challenges facing each community.
The 2023 Budget proposes to allocate $19.4 million over five years to the Northern Participant Funding Program, under Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, to increase the participation of Indigenous Peoples and other Northerners in environmental and regulatory assessments of major projects.
Additionally, it proposes $1.6 million over two years to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency for the Northern Projects Management Office to increase capacity for federal participation in environmental assessments and consultation with Indigenous communities on major projects in the territories.
Increased Funding for Northern Canada
Increased funding for the Northern Participant Funding Program and the Northern Projects Management Office will support Indigenous Peoples and other Northerners to participate in environmental and regulatory assessments of major projects. This will enhance the engagement of Indigenous communities in local engineering projects, ensuring their traditional knowledge and perspectives are incorporated into the decision-making process.
Furthermore, these measures can lead to improved environmental assessment and consultation processes for major engineering projects. With increased federal capacity, engineering projects can be designed and implemented in a more sustainable and socially responsible manner. This can include mitigating the impacts on the environment and local communities and enhancing the overall sustainability of the projects.
Engineering Pathway Programs
As part of a comprehensive strategy that integrates mineral extraction, energy generation, and the well-being of northern communities, we urge the Federal government to invest in engineering pathway programs for members of Indigenous communities. This investment will help expand the workforce and tap into the deep knowledge and expertise that Indigenous peoples have of their land. By engaging and training Indigenous engineers to contribute to important infrastructure projects, we can ensure that their voices and perspectives are included in decision-making processes, and that projects are designed and executed in a way that is sustainable and respectful of the environment and local communities.
The 2023 Budget proposes significant investments in clean power and green infrastructure by the Canada Infrastructure Bank, as well as funding for Natural Resources Canada to support regional priorities and Indigenous-led projects. The budget also includes several incentives to boost private investment in clean technology manufacturing, critical minerals projects, and clean hydrogen. In addition, there are proposals to extend reduced tax rates for zero-emission technology manufacturers and enhance the carbon capture, utilization, and storage investment tax credit. The budget highlights the importance of clean fuels and battery manufacturing in Canada’s plan to reach net-zero by 2050.
Budget 2023 proposes to provide $40.4 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, with $0.3 million in remaining amortization and $7 million ongoing, to Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence to establish the NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence.
The measures proposed in the 2023 Budget will have a significant impact on the engineering sector in Canada, particularly on the development and deployment of clean technologies and infrastructure.
Increased Investment in Clean Infrastructure
The $20 billion investment in clean electricity and clean growth infrastructure projects through the Canada Infrastructure Bank will create significant opportunities for engineering firms involved in the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure projects. This could include projects such as renewable energy installations, electric vehicle charging stations, and clean hydrogen production facilities.
Renewed Focus on Innovation
The investments in science-based activities to capitalize on Canada’s offshore wind potential and the renewal of the Smart Grid program will support innovation in the engineering sector, particularly in the areas of renewable energy and electricity grid innovation.
Incentivizing Clean Technology Manufacturing
The investment tax credits for clean technology manufacturing and critical minerals projects will provide incentives for companies to invest in the development and manufacturing of clean technologies, which could create new opportunities for engineering firms to work on these projects.
Supporting the Shift to Clean Fuels
The focus on clean fuels such as hydrogen, biofuels, and biomass will create opportunities for engineering firms involved in the design and construction of fuel production and distribution infrastructure, as well as for firms working on the development of clean fuel technologies.
Encouraging Carbon Capture and Storage
The enhancements to the Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Investment Tax Credit will create opportunities for engineering firms involved in the development and implementation of carbon capture and storage technologies, particularly in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Establishment of the NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence
As climate change continues to be a pressing issue globally, engineering firms will increasingly need to consider the impacts of climate change on their projects and designs. The Centre of Excellence may provide a platform for Canadian engineers to collaborate with international experts to better understand the impacts of climate change on security and develop innovative solutions to address these challenges. Additionally, the funding provided by the 2023 Budget will lead to the creation of new job opportunities for engineers who specialize in climate change and security.
The Canadian government has implemented various measures to address environmental concerns such as pollution pricing, conservation of land and water, emissions reduction plan, protection of nature and species, planting trees, protecting coasts and waterways, encouraging the use of zero-emission vehicles, supporting climate change adaptation strategies, promoting energy efficiency in homes, preserving wild salmon, supporting the recovery of endangered species, and banning harmful single-use plastics. These efforts aim to reduce the impact of climate change, protect the environment, and promote sustainability.
The measures included in the federal budget will have a significant impact on engineers as they play a crucial role in building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary for achieving sustainability goals.
Pollution Pricing System
This will encourage engineers to design and implement cleaner technologies and processes, to reduce emissions and improve air quality. The system will also create an incentive for industries to invest in more efficient and cleaner processes, promoting innovation and sustainable technologies. Engineers will have a key role to play in developing and implementing these new technologies.
Planting 2 Billion trees and Conserving Land and Water
This commitment will push engineers to design and implement sustainable infrastructure and land use practices. This could include designing and implementing sustainable irrigation systems, restoring natural habitats, and developing sustainable land-use plans.
Protecting Nature, Species at Risk, and Marine and Coastal Areas
This will require engineers to develop and implement sustainable infrastructure that minimizes the impact on the environment. This includes designing and implementing sustainable transportation systems, energy-efficient buildings, and sustainable wastewater treatment systems.
Encouraging Adoption of Zero-Emission Vehicles
This will require engineers to design and develop new technologies for electric cars, charging infrastructure, and renewable energy systems to support the transition to cleaner transportation systems. Engineers will also need to design and implement sustainable transportation infrastructure, such as bike lanes and public transportation systems.
Promoting Energy-Efficient Homes
This will motivate engineers to develop and implement sustainable building practices, such as the use of green materials, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and efficient lighting systems. Engineers will also need to develop and implement sustainable energy infrastructure, such as community solar and wind power systems.
Banning Single-Use Plastics
This will encourage engineers to develop and implement sustainable alternatives, such as reusable packaging and biodegradable materials.
Overall, the measures included in the federal budget will encourage engineers to play a key role in designing and implementing sustainable infrastructure and technologies. This presents an opportunity for engineers to lead the way in creating a more sustainable future.
The Canadian government has allocated significant funding in recent years to modernize the country’s research ecosystem. Budgets in 2018, 2019, and 2021 provided billions of dollars for research and science organizations, genomics and artificial intelligence strategies, and life sciences researchers and infrastructure. Additionally, Canada intends to become a full member of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory, with up to $269.3 million in support. In this budget, the Canadian Space Agency will receive $1.1 billion to continue participation in the International Space Station until 2030, $1.2 billion to develop a lunar utility vehicle, $150 million for the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program, and $76.5 million for Canadian science on the Lunar Gateway station.
The measures included in the federal budget, especially Modernizing Canada’s Research Ecosystem, are expected to have a significant impact on engineers in Canada. The increased funding for research and science organizations, as well as the support for the development of new technologies, will create more opportunities for engineers to advance their skills and contribute to the growth of Canada’s economy.
Increased Funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Granting Councils
This will support research in critical areas such as natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and health research. The investment will enable engineers to participate in cutting-edge research projects and find innovative solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing Canada.
The Pan-Canadian Genomics and Artificial Intelligence Strategies and the National Quantum Strategy
This will provide a significant boost to the development of new technologies and provide opportunities for engineers to contribute to these critical growth areas. Engineers will be able develop advanced technologies that advance Canada’s competitiveness in the global market.
Canadian Space Agency
Increased funding for the International Space Station and the development of a lunar utility vehicle will create opportunities for engineers to work on advanced space technologies. This funding will support the growth of Canada’s space industry and help create in this field.
The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program
This will provide opportunities for engineers to develop new technologies that will support Canada’s space industry. The program will also accelerate the development of new technologies that will be critical for the success of Canada’s space industry.
The 2023 Budget proposes measures to enhance community security, support women’s organizations, address barriers faced by persons with disabilities, and invest in workforce development. This includes funding for the Communities at Risk program, the Women’s Program, disability organizations, and workforce development agreements to support persons with disabilities in training and employment.
The Communities at Risk Program
This program involves the design and construction of new security infrastructure, in which engineers play a key role. Additionally, the investments in workforce development agreements and disability organizations may involve engineering solutions to improve accessibility and accommodations in the workplace.
Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in Procurement Policies
It is important to promote partnerships with provinces and municipalities to implement data-driven approaches to EDI in procurement processes. This will ensure procurement decisions are fair and unbiased, and will provide opportunities for underrepresented groups to participate in the procurement process.
To achieve this goal, the federal government should partner with provincial and national organizations such as Specialisterne, professional associations like OSPE, and postsecondary institutions. These partnerships will create a funnel into the workforce and postsecondary systems, providing opportunities for students and professionals to develop their skills and contribute to the country’s economy.
Through these programs, Canada can tap into the diverse talents of individuals with neurodivergent conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and dyslexia. These individuals possess unique perspectives and strengths that can enhance innovation and problem-solving in the STEM field. By supporting these individuals, Canada can diversify its workforce and innovation portfolio, leading to more creative and effective solutions to federal issues.
Women’s Program Funding
The impact of Women’s Program funding on the engineering sector is likely to be indirect but significant. The engineering sector, like many others, has historically been male-dominated, and increasing diversity and inclusion in the industry is a priority for many organizations. By providing funding to women’s organizations that serve underrepresented groups, the government is supporting efforts to increase the representation of women, Indigenous peoples, members of the 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and other equity-deserving groups in engineering and related fields. This could lead to increased diversity in the workforce fostering innovation as research has shown that diverse teams are more effective at problem-solving and decision-making. Additionally, the funding could support initiatives to provide mentorship and training programs for women in engineering, which could help to address some of the barriers to entry and retention in the industry.