2021-22 budget – Canadian provinces and territories
Candian provinces and territories tabled their respective budgets over the last few months, with high investments in healthcare, economic recovery and strategies to fight the pandemic, while projecting years of post-pandemic deficits at the same time.
For the most part, investments in technology haven’t been neglected, with most provincial governments highlighting technology and innovation as a key to economic recovery and proper healthcare.
We’ve taken a look at the recently tabled budgets and zeroed in on the technology and innovation investments. Here’s what we found.
The government of Ontario tabled its 2021 budget on March 24, 2021. While the current budget mainly focuses on protecting people’s health and jobs through the ongoing pandemic, and the majority of the measures still part of the province’s first pandemic budget from five months ago, it includes the following new tech-related investments:
- An investment of $2.8 billion in the province’s broadband.
- A $40 million investment to remote learning technology to ensure remote and online learning can be delivered for students during the pandemic.
- A $56.4 million investment over the next four years to create the new Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN).
- Introduction of a new form of secure, electronic government-issued ID that can be used to access government services while protecting data privacy.
New Brunswick’s 2021-22 budget was tabled on March 16. The government projected a deficit of $12.7 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, compared to a $92.4 million surplus projected for the same fiscal year in the previous budget. This year, the province is pumping money into the following areas related to tech and innovation:
- $3 million to address gaps in the broadband network and continue evolving information security systems.
- $1.7 million to support the development and delivery of distance learning opportunities.
- $1.2 million to support access to services such as Virtual Care, MyHealthNB, and eHealthNB.
- $1.2 million to maintain the additional technicians to provide technical support to teachers and students.
- $1 million to continue supporting the Laptop Subsidy Program, helping an estimated 2,000 students access technology for the upcoming year.
Alberta’s economic outlook is slightly more positive than the late 2020 predictions originally indicated. While Alberta says its revenue has been negatively impacted by the pandemic – in addition to the reduced energy demand – it is starting to grow again.
An $18.2 billion deficit is targeted for 2021–22, $2 billion less than the 2020–21 forecast, and the economy is now expected to reach pre-COVID levels in 2022.
As part of the new budget, the provincial government has committed a total of $500 million to economic recovery. But the recovery doesn’t stop there, and technology will play a big part. More technology investments as follows:
- The budget targets adding 900 new companies and 20,000 new jobs in the innovation sector in Alberta by 2030.
- Innovation Employment Grant is replacing the Scientific and Experimental Development tax credit with $166 million over three years for small and medium-sized firms to invest in research.
- Alberta Innovates, tasked with enhancing accelerator and scale-up supports for entrepreneurs, is receiving $15 million this fiscal year and $10 million next year for enhanced accelerator and startup programming.
- Implementation of a new finance and fintech strategy which includes establishing a concierge office to help companies set up in Alberta.
- Investment of $449 million for Technology and Emissions Reduction (TIER) to lower GHGs.
Nova Scotia’s budget 2021-22 was tabled on March 25, wherein the government estimated a deficit of $584.9 million with revenue of $11.8 billion and expenses, after consolidation adjustments of $12.4 billion.
This year, the province included the following budget items tied to tech and innovation:
- An investment of $1 million to continue the NSBI Digital Adoption Program, which supports Nova Scotia businesses to adopt digital tools and innovations.
- An investment of $1.1 million to continue the digital content marketing program to support tourism operators implement customized digital marketing campaigns.
- An investment of $2.8 million to accelerate the use of virtual tools and digital approaches to providing healthcare.
- An investment of 12.3 million increase for new mental health programming, including e-mental health options to increase access for Nova Scotians to services and supports.
Manitoba’s budget 2021 was tabled on April 7, with the province projecting a deficit of $1.59 billion for the year, an improvement from the third quarter projection for 2020-21 of $2.08 billion.
In March 2021, the province also announced that it is investing over $6.5 million over three years to help modernize the information and communication technology used in healthcare facilities.
The latest budget focuses on protecting Manitobans through the ongoing pandemic, advancing jobs and economic recovery. It includes more than $62 million to help businesses retrain employees and develop e-commerce platforms and $25 million for youth job programs. Here’s what’s in for technology and innovation:
- An investment of $4 million in a virtual learning strategy and program for Manitoba students’ online remote learning, regardless of technology options.
- Among the tax changes coming to Manitobans in 2021 is the introduction of a provincial retail sales tax for streaming services, online marketplaces, and online accommodation platforms as of Dec. 1, 2021.
The Nunavut government tabled a $2.4 billion budget on Feb. 23, 2021.
The government of Nunavut forecasts $2.39 million in revenues, $2.02 million in spendings on programs in 2021-22. The government also noted it is setting aside an additional $75 million to manage supplementary spending requirements over the year, forecasting an operational deficit of $14.3 million in 2021-22, assuming the $75 million set aside for contingencies is fully spent.
The territory’s tabled budget also includes a $5.8 million investment to continue to secure and strengthen computer networks.
Prince Edward Island
The province tabled its budget 2021-22 on March 12, outlining $2.5 billion in spending for programs to assist Islanders, businesses, and industry recover from COVID-19. With revenues forecasted at $2.4 billion and planned spending of $2.5 billion, the province expects a deficit of approximately $112 million.
It’s also making the following investments in tech:
- A $2.65 million investment to further expand the use of virtual care technologies within the province’s health care system.
- An investment of $500,000 to establish an electric vehicle rebate program.
- A $250,000 investment to help Islanders develop and advance ideas to contribute to a clean technology sector in PEI.
On April 1, Prince Edward Island announced the new Innovation PEI program to support Island businesses, including an innovation fund to assist businesses in bringing a new product, service, or process to market. The fund provides up to 50 per cent of eligible costs to a maximum of $50,000 in assistance per approved project.
The Québec government tabled its budget 2021-22 on March 25.
In addition to planning for major investments in education and higher education, this year’s budget proposed initiatives totalling $4 billion over the next five years to spur business investment and boost productivity across the province to accelerate economic growth. Some of the major investments in tech and innovation include:
- Investments of nearly $2.2 billion over the next five years planned to increase productivity and spur business investment, including nearly $1.3 billion to connect all Quebecers to high‑speed Internet.
- Temporary increase in innovation tax credit (C3i) and a decrease in the income tax rate for Québec SMBs to bring it down to the same level as Ontario to encourage businesses to adopt new technologies.
- Investments of $218 million to support innovative projects, invest in infrastructure and research centres and support innovation in strategic spheres such as the battery sector and cybersecurity.
- Investments of $404 million over the next five years to meet the needs of workers in information technology.
The Yukon government tabled its budget 2021-22 on March 4, saying it plans to spend $434.3 million on capital projects, a 17 per cent rise in spending from last year’s budget. The government forecasts a $12.7 million deficit in its $1.79 billion budget, with the COVID-19 pandemic blowing apart its $4.1 million surplus last year.
Specific mention of tech in its budget was limited to the following:
- The provincial government committed tech and innovation investments of $159 million over five years for information technology investments.
The government says it’s making these investments to increase the ease, efficiency, and transparency with which Yukoners access services and agencies deliver services. In 2021–22, this includes health systems expansion and the Dempster Fibre project.