Where do Canada’s major federal parties stand on innovation?



Liberal Party of Canada​

The ruling Liberal Party so far has not published its full platform. However, it has laid out a number of R&D and Innovation initiatives in the 2021 Federal Budget. Thus, the Liberals are committing $4.7 B, or 6% of the total budget initiatives to R&D and Innovation. This is a relatively low number given the fact that 2021 is by far the largest Budget in Canadian history. The key Liberal Initiatives include:


  1. $500 M over four years for CFI (bioscience capital and infrastructure)
  2. $398 M over five years to launch a pan-Canadian genomics strategy
  3. $254 M over five years to launch a national quantum strategy
  4. $250 M over four years for the Tri-councils (biosciences research)
  5. $250 M over five years to CIHR to implement a new clinical trials fund
  6. $30 M over two years to CIHR to fund pediatric cancer research
  7. $46 M over three years to NRCan to fund federal R&D to advance critical battery mineral processing
  8. $25 M over three years to NRCan to support the polar continental shelf program 


  1. $7.2 B over seven years to the Strategic Innovation Fund – $5 B for the net-zero accelerator – clean tech
  2. $2.6 B, on a cash basis, from BDC to provide support for SME technology adoption
  3. $2.2 B over five years (in lost federal revenue) to support Canadian-controlled private corporations’ investments (up to$1.5 M of eligible investments)
  4. $1.6 B over four years to ISED to help SMEs digitize through Canada
  5. $708 M over five years to Mitacs to create 85,000 work-integrated learning placements
  6. $500 M over five years to expand the NRC-IRAP
  7. $368 M over five years to renew the pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy ($185 M for commercialization)
  8. $220 M over five years to NRCan to advance carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies

Through these initiatives, the Liberals want to achieve:

Economic Results

  1. Grow the value of Canada’s goods and services exports by 30% by 2025
  2. Keep pace with other OECD countries by increasing BERD as a percentage of GDP to $30 B by 2050
  3. Double the number of high-growth firms in Canada from 14,000 to 28,000 by 2025
  4. Increase investment in ICT as a percentage of GDP to 3% by 2025
  5. Double the value of cleantech exports by 2025

Environmental Results

  1. Achieve GHG emissions reductions of 40 to 45% from 2005 levels by 2030 – down to at least 439 megatonnes from 732 megatonnes
  2. Reduce GHG emissions from federal operations by 40-45% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050 relative to 2005 levels
  3. Launch a Net Zero Challenge for large emitters to develop plans to transition to Net Zero by 2050

Conservative Party of Canada​

If elected, the Conservatives are pledging $5 billion through a new Canada Advanced Research Agency to fund R&D and Innovation programs. Namely, the Party wants to promote programs on the use of hydrogen, Small Modular Reactors, Private sector innovation in the space sector, EV development and manufacturing, and pharmaceutical research and production. 

The Party also proposes cutting taxes on income earned from patents on innovative products developed in Canada in half and covering $10,000 of the administrative and legal costs of each of the first five patents filed by Canadian SMEs. This should help make the country a world leader in patents. 

As for the currently existing programs to support innovation in this country, the CPC wants to reform some. In that light, the Party wants to ‘streamline and accelerate the SR&ED program’ to ensure its primary focus is on research and development and not administration. Thus, it would move administration from CRA to ISED, which should simplify compliance paperwork to allow innovators to focus on innovating. The Conservatives also want to make it easier for software development to qualify for SR&ED. 

Furthermore, the CPC plans to review all innovation existing government innovation programs simplify them, remove duplication, and ensure that innovation spending benefits Canada by: 

  • Requiring that recipients demonstrate that intellectual property, production, ownership, and profits are likely to stay in Canada; 
  • Prohibit foreign state-owned entities or those with ties to foreign militaries from receiving funding; 
  • Requiring that all intellectual property developed with the support of the Canadian government be held by a Canadian entity and that recipients agree to pay back the subsidy if they sell the IP to a foreign buyer; 
  • Ending the payment of Canadian tax dollars to large foreign tech companies; and 
  • Putting any money saved by no longer subsidizing foreign multinationals into increasing SR&ED generosity for Canadian small business

The final point of the CPC’s innovation platform is Making Canada a more attractive place to finance and scale tech start-ups. Thus, the Party proposes introducing flow-through shares for tech companies, similar to what was done in mining financing. The Conservatives want to exempt Canadian-controlled start-ups from the current plan to tax stock options.

To encourage established Canadian companies to become the first customers for our innovative companies, the CPC also wants to create a tax credit for buying from Canadian start-ups, making it easier for them to raise venture capital at home and, therefore, to scale up. Finally, the Party wants to direct the government to start buying from Canadian start-ups.


As for the NDP, the Party is not giving much information on what it wants to do to support and advance innovation in Canada if elected.