Finance Committee Recommends Significant Investment in Canada’s Space Program


December 12, 2018 – Written by Marc Boucher. Originally published on

The federal government Finance Committee has released its 2019 Pre-Budget report and it recommends that the government “commit to significant, ongoing investments to advance Canada’s space program and contribute to space exploration and science.”

The Report of the Standing Committee on Finance is titled Cultivating Competitiveness: Helping Canadians Succeed and was chaired by the Honourable Wayne Easter, a Liberal member of parliament.

There are 99 recommendations in the report and the one that specifically deals with space is number 37.

That the space program is one of the recommendations is not insignificant. The reason that space is in this report is by the efforts of those who participated in the process, whether through a submitted brief or brief and in-person testimony.

It also shows the value of trying to appear in-person and taking “the case” to the committee directly. For MDA and Maritime Launch Services, both who testified in front of the committee, their efforts are in part paid off in realizing committee mind-share and inclusion in the final report.

For the space community, it is another important piece of their ongoing effort to get the space file acted upon with the creation of a new Space Strategy and renewed sustained funding for the space program.

What’s in the pre-budget report about space

The recommendations are grouped by chapter. The space program recommendation is in Chapter 4, “An Innovative Economy” which starts on page 61.

In Section A: Stimulating Research and Development sub-section 1. Direct Funding for Research and Development (page 64) is this mention of Maritime Launch Services;

Maritime Launch Services Ltd. identified a need for more streamlined funding structures for budding launch vehicle and launch site technology initiatives. It advocated for a specific research category for launch R&D funding under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), among others.

And a little further on in Section C: Sector-Specific Initiatives, item 2 on page 74, is a reference to part of MDA’s testimony which reads:

The MDA Space Missions Group asked that the federal government recognize space as a national strategic asset and a key contributor to Canada’s competitiveness. It proposed the creation of a long-term space plan for Canada, including enough funding to maintain existing leadership in space science, cultivate new areas of leadership and position Canada for competitiveness in the space economy. The space plan should also include a commitment to building a third-generation Canadarm at a cost of $1 to $2 billion over the next 20 years.

There is also another reference in the document to testimony by Maritime Launch Services in Chapter 5, “A Well-Functioning Labour Market” and also under Section D: Sector-Specific Initiatives, item 6 on page 94. It reads;

In order to prevent the loss of talents in the space industry, Maritime Launch Services Ltd. called on the federal government to invest in Canadian space industry and incentivize new business practices through partnerships with Canadian companies, notfor-profits and charities so that the youth may be equipped with STEM skills relevant to the launch industry and the overall space industry.

Report conclusions

The Committee believes that Canadians and their businesses are strong, innovative, and poised to continue succeeding at home and abroad. We realize, however, that the nation is affected by a range of uncontrollable factors occurring throughout the globe. While the Canadian economy is performing well by OECD standards — and is expected to continue to do so – a host of global economic, financial and fiscal uncertainties must be carefully considered in the development of the 2019 federal budget. A great deal has changed since the Committee undertook its last pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2018 federal budget. In particular, disruptions to global trade, significant changes in the United States’ federal tax and regulatory regime, and a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement weigh heavily on the Committees’ considerations.

With these factors in mind, we asked Canadians to focus their submissions and testimony on what steps the federal government can take to encourage growth in the economy and keep our nation globally competitive. The Committee thanks those who followed suit by preparing briefs and/or appearing before us in Ottawa and throughout Canada; your information and insights are – as always – invaluable to us in the development of our recommendations to the government.

The recommendations contained in this report aim to support Canada’s people, businesses and communities. We trust these recommendations will inform the decisions of the Minister of Finance in the 2019 federal budget, and spur on the economic growth that will enhance the nation’s ability to compete in global markets as well as continue to improve the standard of living of Canadians.