Canadian public is onboard with Government of Canada investment to secure Canada’s place in space

September 17, 2018
Ottawa, ON

Canadians are proud of Canada’s accomplishments in space and more than eight in ten are onboard with Government investment to secure Canada’s place in space, according to a national survey of public opinion.

“Many Canadians don’t realize how much of a leader Canada is in space today, and how big a role space plays in making their daily lives better,” said Mike Greenley, Group President of MDA, and one of the coalition partners. “When they hear more about the down-to-earth, everyday benefits of space-based scientific discoveries that touch their lives 20-30 times a day, such as medical advancements, early warning of natural disasters, and helping to monitor and protect our natural resources from climate change, they are intrigued. When they hear about some of the possibilities of the new space economy, they get excited.”

“We heard that most Canadians would be concerned if investment in space were to decline, as they do not wish to fall behind other countries or miss out on important technological advances and economic benefits of space, and that they see increased investment in space as forward-looking and a key to securing Canada’s economic future and competitiveness,” said Aerospace Industries Association of Canada President & CEO Jim Quick.

Quick added that other countries are positioning themselves to take advantage of the emerging space economy, and that Canada risks being left behind without a funded space strategy and a deliberate decision to be a leading spacefaring nation once again.

Canada’s current leadership role in space and potential involvement in the growing space economy depends on a commitment from the Government of Canada for a new funded space strategy. AIAC, MDA, and twenty other space businesses and organizations have launched a campaign to inform Canadians about what’s at stake.

#DontLetGoCanada will raise awareness of Canada’s accomplishments in space; the major benefits to Canada and Canadians that stem from investments in space; the important contributions of the space industry to Canada’s economy and innovation ecosystem; and the exciting opportunities of the new space economy. The current space-related global market opportunity is estimated to be $500 billion Canadian, which analysts forecast will grow to be a multi-trillion-dollar market in coming decades.

The public opinion research findings, key highlights below, will be presented by Ipsos at an iPolitics event later today.

So far, the coalition includes the following organizations: ABB Inc.; Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC); Canadensys; Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI); the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA); the Canadian Space Society (CSS); Deltion Innovations Ltd.; Honeywell; IMP Aerospace; Magellan Aerospace; MDA, a Maxar Company; Menya Solutions; Mission Control Space Services; Montreal Student Space Associations; Neptec; NGC Aerospace; the Planetary Society; Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC); SATCAN; SED Systems; Space Strategies Consulting Ltd; and Xiphos Systems Corporation.

Key findings from the survey:

Enthusiasm about space is stronger than in the past.

  • Some four in five Canadians are proud of our activities in space (79%) and think that Canadian success in advanced space technologies contributes to our knowledge economy, innovation, and economic competitiveness (78%). This compares to 71% for both measures in a 2005 Phoenix SPI survey conducted for the Canadian Space Agency. And fully three quarters (76%) think that our space activities inspire youth in science and engineering (compared to 65% in 2005).
  • 88% support or strongly support developing the information technology or artificial intelligence sector; 88% the robotics sector; 80% the defence sector; and 84% the space sector – which is a significant increase from a 2007 Praxicus survey (64%).

The Canadarm and Canada’s astronauts are top-of-mind, and sources of pride.

  • Consistent with tracking research conducted by CSA, Canadarm continues to be the main image that comes to mind when Canadians think about Canada’s space program or involvement in space.
  • 92% agree, including 61% strongly agree, “When I think about or see the Canadarm I feel proud.”
  • Canadians are nearly unanimous in agreeing – 95% agree, including 67% strongly – that Canada’s astronauts, including Chris Hadfield, Julie Payette and Marc Garneau, are a source of national pride and help inspire Canadian youth to pursue careers in science and technology.

Canadians support investment in the space sector and many reject the notion that Canada is too small a country to be active in space.

  • A strong majority think that increasing investments in space including satellite communications (81%), space science (73%), space robotics (71%), and international space missions (67%), would be a good decision.
  • Three quarters (75%) disagree – including 47% strongly – that Canada is too small a country to participate in the space economy with countries like the USA, United Kingdom, France, and Italy.
  • Nine in ten agree maintaining leadership in space robotics, like the Canadarm, is important for Canada.
  • The vast majority (85%) of Canadians would like to see Canada maintain a role in a new Moon mission.

Primacy of spending in space is not a given. However, awareness of the benefits of investment in space drives greater support for spending in space.

  • Half of Canadians (53%) agree Canada should spend less in the space sector because we have other greater priorities.
  • All tested messages increase support for investment in space. Linkages to medical discoveries and environmental benefits are the strongest drivers, making a majority of Canadians much more likely to support increased investments in space (58% and 56% respectively say hearing message makes them much more likely to support).

Few are aware Canada’s space budgets are decreasing.

  • A plurality of Canadians believes that about the same amount of money is being invested as was five years ago in developing satellite communications (48%), space robotics (50%), and international space mission (55%). Among those who think spending has changed, more feel that the amount in satellite communications is increasing (28% increasing vs. 10% decreasing), and as many believe that spending in space robotics is increasing as those who believe it is decreasing (18% respectively).

Many believe Canada is falling behind other countries in space, and this is concerning.

  • Four in ten Canadians believe Canada is falling behind other countries in achievements in space. This is nearly twice the number who believe we are falling behind in the information technology/AI sector or robotics sector.
  • Nearly four in five (78%) Canadians are more likely to support increased investments in Canada’s space technology when they hear that if we stop investing in space technology we risk losing our best and brightest to other countries.

These findings are based on a telephone survey conducted among a random and representative sample of n=1,602 Canadians aged 18+. The survey was conducted between June 7th and 21st, 2018 (fieldwork in Ontario started on the 8th) and was offered in both English and French.

A sample of this size yields a margin of error of +/-2.45%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error will be larger for data that is based on sub-groups of the total sample.

The survey was followed by a series of 8 focus groups conducted with a cross-section of Canadians in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Sessions were conducted between June 27th –July 5th, 2018.

Click here to read Ipsos full report.

Help support the #DontLetGoCanada coalition by sending an email to your MP and signing the e-petition.