The Short Report: May 1, 2024

Research Money
May 1, 2024


The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario will provide an estimated $5 billion in subsidies to Honda to build a $15-billion electric vehicle battery plant and manufacture EVs at its plant in Alliston, Ont. (photo at right). The subsidies come in the form of direct incentives for capital costs and federal tax credits, with the federal and Ontario governments each contributing about $2.5 billion. Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ford called the deal a “game changer” that shows Ontario’s skilled workforce, green energy grid and deposits of the minerals needed for EV batteries have made it a top spot for EV investment. This is the third such deal in Ontario, following government production subsidies of $13.2 billion to Volkswagen and $15 billion to Stellantis. “Taxpayers in Ontario and the rest of Canada will pay for this corporate welfare through their taxes,” wrote Jake Fuss and Tegan Hill, director, fiscal studies, and association director, Alberta policy, respectively, at the Fraser Institute. CBC News

The Government of Canada, Government of Quebec and IBM are together investing about $187 million to increase the country’ manufacturing capacity for semiconductors, vital in technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum computing. The federal government will invest $59.9 million to help fund IBM Canada’s semiconductor packaging facility in Bromont, Que., about 70 km southeast of Montreal. In addition to the advancement of packaging capabilities, IBM will be conducting R&D to develop methods for scalable manufacturing and other advanced assembly processes to support the packaging of different chip technologies. The investment also will go toward the Bromont-based MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre, a research group that aims to accelerate the commercialization of components in digital technologies. The Quebec government is providing  IBM Canada with $38.9 million in loans to help the company buy equipment, increase capacity at its Bromont plant, and create a new generation of switches. The provincial contribution includes a $32-million “forgivable” loan for new equipment to package semiconductor circuitry for the telecommunications industry. IBM, The Canadian Press

The Government of Alberta is in investing $57 million to develop 28 new hydrogen technologies that will reduce emissions and power the economy. The funding, delivered through Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates, will support projects led by industry, researchers and municipalities. It will drive first-of-their-kind technologies to be used in hydrogen production, transmission and distribution, storage, and transportation, and expand hydrogen use in communities and in heavy-duty transportation, natural gas production, chemicals and other industries. Funding for each project ranges from $300,000 to $7 million. Using the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction program, the province is funding a wide range of technologies. This includes:

  • $7 million to help Linde Canada install hydrogen production, distribution and refueling infrastructure in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan to supply hydrogen for Edmonton Transit.
  • $7 million to help NuVista Energy demonstrate a technology that converts natural gas feedstock into low-carbon hydrogen and solid carbon,
  • $6.9 million to help the City of Edmonton demonstrate a methanol-to-hydrogen fueling system while integrating two hydrogen vehicle technologies to test fueling and vehicle performance.
  • $5 million to help Strathcona County install a hydrogen-fueled system to provide heat and power at the Millennium Place Recreation Centre.
  • $2.2 million to help the City of Calgary pilot and test hydrogen vehicles and equipment to determine suitability and use in Alberta.
  • $1.9 million to help the Pipeline Research Council test materials for retrofitting existing natural gas pipelines for hydrogen.
  • $1.7 million to help Edmonton International Airport explore hydrogen’s use in aviation. of Alberta

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced $50 million in funding to support First Nations stewardship in the Salish Sea and waters along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Funding through the Indigenous Coastal Waters Stewardship Fund is now available to the 33 First Nations eligible to participate in the Salish Sea Initiative (SSI) and will be administered by the Indigenous Coastal Waters Stewardship Society through an arrangement with Peace Hills Trust, Canada’s largest First Nation-owned financial institution. The Society will manage the funds at arm’s-length from the federal government, supporting First Nations in achieving self-determination and independence in monitoring and addressing cumulative effects of human activities on marine ecosystems within their traditional territories. The administrative and governance structure for the funding was co-developed by First Nations partners and Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the SSI, which was established in 2019 to support First Nations along the Trans Mountain Pipeline marine shipping corridor in monitoring and assessing the impacts of human activity in the Salish Sea. Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The Government of Alberta is investing nearly $13 million in the aviation and aerospace industry to train and strengthen the aviation workforce. A total of 40 grants to 33 employers have been approved through the Aviation Skills Grant program. More than 2,000 trainees will benefit from up to $30,000 in funding for training from these grants, equipping them with the tools to meet the evolving needs of employers. The program focuses on improving access to training programs for pilots, including Class 4 instructors, multi-engine operation and wing conversion training, as well as nighttime or mountain flight training for both airplanes and helicopters. Training in quality assurance, aircraft maintenance engineering and manufacturing have also emerged as new areas of focus. Recipients of the grants include WestJet, the Calgary Flying Club, the Edmonton Flying Club, Airborne Energy Solutions Inc., and STARS. Eight employers are using the funding to train people to fight wildfires. This includes training pilots on how to use night-vision goggles and technology for fire suppression, as well as specialized flight training to operate planes and helicopters equipped with air tankers or water bombers. Govt. of Alberta

 Infrastructure Canada announced a combined investment of more than $8.7 million from the federal government and Government of British Columbia, the Capital Regional District (CRD), and the City of Victoria, for public electric vehicle charging ports. The funding will support installation of approximately 576 Level-2 and 20 direct-current fast-charge (DCFC) EV charging ports in about 80 public locations across the Capital region. The CRD is undertaking regional coordination and close partnerships with local governments in the region, including the City of Victoria, which will manage up to 424 of the Level 2 and all 20 of the DCFCs planned under the project. The project will reduce GHG emissions by increasing public access to EV charging that uses B.C.’s clean electricity supply, the partners said. Infrastructure Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced more than  $3.3 million in funding to support Canadian organizations that are developing innovative solutions to address plastic pollution. Nine small and medium-sized companies will each receive up to $150,000 to develop environmentally acceptable and cost-effective solutions to help better reuse plastics or improve the end-of-life management of plastic film that commonly wraps consumer items. The funding for these projects is being provided through the two latest Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenges, which has committed over $25 million to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to date. In addition to the nine companies, more than $2 million from ECCC’s funding for Advancing a Circular Economy for Plastics in Canada is going to 12 recipients for projects that will identify new opportunities, facilitate collaboration and information sharing, help reduce investment risk, and encourage the adoption of circular solutions. Circular solutions are ways that products and materials are kept in circulation (or in use) by either maintaining, reusing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, or recycling them. ECCC

The Government of Alberta is investing $750,000 to conduct a feasibility study led by Calgary-based geothermal company Eavor Technologies and other stakeholders, to create a new Alberta Drilling Accelerator to advance geothermal energy development. The facility would be the first of its kind in Canada. The study will include identifying a site, business planning, research on the governance model, an economic impact analysis and stakeholder engagement that will lay the groundwork for the initial planning stages of the project. The Alberta Drilling Accelerator would help companies test out and develop new geothermal drilling techniques or technologies to reduce emissions and drive growth across the clean energy sector. It would be an open-access, technology-agnostic drilling test facility capable of drilling in challenging environments, including deep depths, high temperatures and different rock types. The accelerator also would help speed up the development of carbon capture, utilization and storage; helium; critical minerals; and other clean technologies and commodities that rely on Alberta’s drilling sector. If the feasibility study shows the facility is economically and environmentally viable, and if the project is approved by the Alberta government, the facility will start taking shape at the selected site and drilling could start as early as 2025. Govt. of Alberta


University of Toronto scientists have developed a framework for measuring plastic pollution emissions akin to the global standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers say the approach will boost identification of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution from local to national levels and improve strategies in reducing emissions worldwide. The framework comes as international discussions in Ottawa took place April 23 to 29 led by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, towards a legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution. Using Toronto as a model, the researchers developed the first-of-its-kind framework and estimated that in one year alone, Toronto emitted nearly 4,000 tonnes of plastic pollution. The researchers, PhD candidate Alice (Xia) Zhu, working with assistant professor Chelsea Rochman in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, published their research in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Zhu and colleagues at U of T and the Rochester Institute of Technology took inspiration from guidelines for compiling emissions inventories of greenhouse gases established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Adapting for physical differences between greenhouse gases and solid pieces of plastic, the researchers used a similar methodology of identifying the major pollution-generating activities in a particular area, calculating the amount of pollution generated by each activity within a given period, and accounting for uncertainties associated with each source of pollution-generating activity. University of Toronto

Ottawa-based biotech startup Atorvia was named the inaugural winner of the Blue Ticket competition at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s SpinUp wet lab incubator. Sponsored by pharmaceutical company Merck, the Blue Ticket program aims to empower the next generation of global health innovators. As prize winner, Atorvia receives a free one-year membership to SpinUp, an up-front cash prize and mentorship from scientific and business leaders at Merck. Atorvia, a woman-led startup, is developing novel treatments that target the molecular causes underlying kidney damage. Among the company’s key innovations is a treatment that addresses acute kidney injury that occurs as a complication of cardiac surgery. The company is developing medicine that can be administered before a patient undergoes cardiac surgery, in order to help prevent kidney failure. University of Toronto

Halifax-based Maritime Launch Services Inc. and Virginia-headquartered The Spaceport Company signed a letter of intent to lease to lease a containerized tracking and telemetry station (TTS) from The Spaceport Company for an inaugural orbital launch from Canada, with options to purchase multiple units as Maritime Launch operations ramp up. Maritime Launch is developing Spaceport Nova Scotia, Canada’s first commercial spaceport located near Canso, N.S. The Spaceport Company has developed an innovative launch tracking system assembled in a transportable container, enabling swift deployment of their technology anywhere it is needed to support launch missions. Maritime Launch plans to offer this mobile tracking service on its first orbital mission, slated for 2025. Maritime Launch Services

The Government of Canada and the U.S. government are getting close to concluding negotiations for a Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) between the two countries and that negotiations have been proceeding well. An agreement would benefit companies like Maritime Launch Services, allowing American launch providers and payloads to use facilities like Spaceport Nova Scotia. A Canada – U.S. TSA would allow American organizations to conduct space launch activities in Canada with local service providers. The agreement also would protect American launch and other space related technologies such as satellites, from unauthorized access by Canadian organizations. New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia have already signed TSAs with the U.S. spaceQ

Demand for metals and minerals needed for the clean-energy transition are projected to increase by nearly 500 per cent by 2025, according to an analysis by Ethical Corporation Magazine, a part of Thomson Reuters. But the extraction of metals and minerals like copper, nickel and cobalt bring increased risks to nature and biodiversity, as well as conflict with communities. Thirty to 50 per cent of gold, iron and zinc mines are located in areas vulnerable to climate change and in high water-stress areas, according to a study by McKinsey. Recently, mines from Brazil to Germany have had to shut down temporarily because of water shortages, costing their operators millions of dollars. Conservation group Re:wild warned that research shows more than a third of Africa’s great apes are at risk because of the surge in demand for the minerals that are vital for green technologies. The Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030 was launched in 2023 to address key systemic risks that challenge the mining sector’s ability to meet the demands of the low-carbon transition. The commission, backed by $13 trillion of assets under management, is chaired by Adam Matthews, who is also chief responsible investment officer of the Church of England Pensions Board. Andrews said the commission’s focus areas include artisanal mining, child labour, the impact of automation and the future workforce, indigenous communities’ and First Nations’ rights, impacts on biodiversity, climate change, tailings dams, conflict reconciliation and corruption. The industry will have to electrify its operations as much as possible, not just through the use of renewable electricity but also by replacing giant diesel-fuelled trucks with alternatives powered by batteries or fuel cells, or using liquified natural gas, hydrogen and e-fuels, Andrews said. There will also be opportunities, he said, to improve efficiency through the use of autonomous fleets, while artificial intelligence and machine learning should also streamline operations and identify opportunities to cut emissions. Reuters

Battery storage in the power sector was the fastest growing energy technology in 2023 that was commercially available, with deployment more than doubling year-on-year, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Strong growth occurred for utility-scale battery projects, behind-the-meter batteries, mini-grids and solar home systems for electricity access, adding a total of 42 gigawatts of battery storage capacity globally. Electric vehicle battery deployment increased by 40 per cent in 2023, with 14 million new electric cars, accounting for the vast majority of batteries used in the energy sector. The energy sector now accounts for more than 90 per cent of annual lithium-ion battery demand. China is currently the world’s largest market for batteries and accounts for over half of all battery in use in the energy sector today. China also does well over half of global raw material processing for lithium and cobalt and has almost 85 per cent of global battery cell production capacity. Energy storage needs to increase six times to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2020 while maintaining energy security, the IEA said. IEA

No new environmental assessment required for new small modular nuclear reactors at Darlington nuclear site

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has decided no new environmental assessment will be required for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) plan to build small nuclear power reactors at the existing Darlington nuclear site.

The goal of the Darlington New Nuclear Project is to generate up to 4,800 megawatts of electricity for the Ontario grid.

Crown-owned OPG’s plan includes building up to four new small modular reactors (SMRs) that have never been built or commercially deployed in Canada.

OPG has selected the General Electric Hitachi BWRX-300 reactor design for deployment at the Darlington site. Construction on the first SMR is expected to be completed by 2028.

The CNSC assessed whether OPG’s selected SMR technology is “fundamentally different” from reactor technologies assessed in a 2011 environmental assessment for the “Plant Parameter Envelope” for the Darlington nuclear site, about 70 km east of Toronto.

The CNSC concluded that OPG’s selected SMR technology “is not fundamentally different? from the reactor technologies assessed in that 2011 environmental assessment Therefore, the regulator said that a new environmental assessment is not required.

The regulator found that the BWRX-300 reactor technology is based on the design of previous GE Hitachi boiling water reactors now in operation, and uses light water as the coolant and moderator, similar to the pressurized water reactor assessed in the 2011 environmental assessment.

Also, the BWRX-300 reactor fuel is similar in enrichment and characteristics to the pressurized water reactor fuel assessed in that previous assessment, the CNSC said. And the physical design of the reactor core and the means of shutting down the nuclear reaction are also similar to the pressurized water reactor assessed in 2011, the regulator said.

The 2011 environmental assessment concluded that, “the Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, provided the mitigation measures proposed and commitments made by OPG during the review, and the Panel’s recommendations are implemented.”

The CNSC also said it is satisfied that the Crown’s legal obligation to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate Indigenous interests, has been done for the Darlington New Nuclear Project.

The CNSC will hold a separate, future hearing to determine whether to issue a construction license to OPG to build one BWRX-300 reactor at the Darlington nuclear site.

Groups such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Greenpeace Canada, and Ontario-based Northwatch oppose building SMRs at the Darlington site. They point out that OPG’s plan for SMRs will create new longer-lived forms of radioactive waste before Canada has even found a long-term and socially acceptable means of managing its existing stockpiles of radioactive waste.

“SMRs are a dirty, dangerous distraction from the investments we need in climate action,”  Theresa McClenaghan, executive director at the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said in a statement.

The United Nations has warned we have just 10 years to get climate change and our greenhouse gas emissions under control, she said. “Investing in these reactors, which are not even through the design stage and will at most be prototypes over the next decade, doesn’t line up with the 10 years we have to act.”

“Even if the other issues of proliferation risk, radioactive waste, and the inherent potential for accidents could be resolved – which is unlikely – SMR development is too slow to address the climate crisis,” McClenaghan said. CNSC


Quebec City-based AI and cybersecurity startup Qohash announced a $17.4-million Series B investment led by Fonds de solidarité FTQ, with participation from Export Development Canada (EDC) and existing investor Desjardins Capital. Qohash’s artificial intelligence-powered “Qostodian” platform can be deployed rapidly, providing immediate visibility and control over the riskiest data sources within an organization. The platform's AI-driven features are tailored to each customer’s unique risk landscape and business rules, automating responses and providing actionable recommendations, Qohash said. The company plans to use the funding to accelerate the development of its platform but also its growth in key sectors where the protection of sensitive data is non-negotiable. Desjardins Group

Toronto-based robotics sensing company Forcen raised $8.35 million to develop it robotics sensing technology, in a funding round led by Brightspark Ventures and BDC Capital’s Deep Tech Venture Fund, with participation from Garage Capital, MaRS IAF, and returning investors including EmergingVC. Forcen said its goal is to enable businesses to easily deploy “(super)human” robotic manipulation in complex and unstructured applications. The company said   its technology is already moving into production with customers in surgical, logistics, humanoid, and space robotics. Forcen plans to use the investment to scale up production to support more customers and to continue developing its force/torque sensing technology and edge intelligence. The Robot Report

Calgary-based Galatea Technologies secured $2.7 million in seed extension funding from from Toronto-based Staircase Ventures, Colorado’s Ascent Energy Ventures, and the Ottawa-based Natural Gas Innovation Fund. Galatea’s management logistics software helps oil and gas companies and other commodity  producers track and dispose of wastewater and other hazardous byproducts more safely and efficiently. The company plans to use the funding to expand its operations into the U.S. BetaKit

Seventy-four per cent of all Canadian venture capital in the first quarter this year came from foreign VC investment, the majority form the U.S., according to a report by CPE Media and Data Company. That means only 26 per cent  of VC investments in Canada in the quarter came from Canadian sources (and even less from Canadian venture capital funds). This is a historically low contribution of VC from Canadian sources and may be a sign of structural weakness in the industry, “which was not addressed by the April 16, federal Budget with its miniscule allocation of $200 million to the industry,” Richard Rémillard, president of Ottawa-based Rémillard Consulting Group, said in a statement. Canadian venture capital totalled $1.38 billion in Q1, 2024, almost unchanged from that of Q4 2023 and Q1 2023. However, just under half, or $745 million, was raised by 17 Canadian VC funds. In other words, these funds were only able to raise about 50 per cent of the demand for VC capital in Q1. Biotech investing (led by U.S. and international funds) surged to an all-time record high in Q1 relative to other areas such as IT and fintech. Companies from Ontario, Quebec, B.C., Alberta and New Brunswick raised $733 million, $346 million, $212 million, $81 million and $11 million respectively. CPE Media and Data Company

San Francisco-based Anaplan, which offers platform for connected business planning, announced an agreement to acquire Toronto-based Fluence Technologies, a cloud services provider whose software helps clients report their financials and close their books. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Anaplan intends to integrate Fluence’s products into its existing platform. Private equity giant Thoma Bravo acquired Anaplan in 2022 in a deal that valued the subsidiary at about US$10.4 billion. The Fluence deal adds to the growing portfolio of Canadian firms under Thoma Bravo, which bought Waterloo, Ont.-based Magnet Forensics last year. Anaplan

Waterloo-headquartered Descartes Systems Group announced it acquired Dublin, Ireland-based Aerospace Software Developments (ASD) for approximately US$61 million. Descartes’ “Global Logistics Network” was built to help shippers, carriers, and logistics services providers connect and collaborate to manage the complete lifecycle of shipments. ASD provides customs and regulatory compliance solutions for logistics services providers. Descartes Systems Group

Paris, France-based HR Path Group, a leader in human resources that supports companies in navigating their digital transformation pathway, announced it acquired Toronto-based GroupeX Solutions, which provides turn-key implementation services for human resources managiemtn tools. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but HR Path said it is one of its largest and will help expand its human resources information system consulting practice. HR Path

Ottawa-based Versaterm, which provides public safety technology, announced it acquired Texas-based Integrated Computer Systems, a public safety software firm. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Versaterm said the acquisition aligns with its focus on developing a versatile public safety ecosystem by providing technology for agencies of all sizes. Versaterm


Canada trailing its peers on innovation, productivity and economic competitiveness: report

Canada lags behind its peers in key indicators of innovation, productivity and economic competitiveness, according to a new report by the Centre for Canadian Innovation and Competitiveness, a newly formed Ottawa-based affiliate of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The Centre benchmarked Canada on indicators such as business and government expenditures on research and development, intellectual property creation, education and skills, technology adoption, labor productivity, and advanced-industry market shares.

The Centre then compared Canada’s relative performance on those indicators to a peer group including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, South Korea, Australia, and Poland.

“Canada lags behind its peers on key innovation indicators. Its productivity performance has been dismal and its competitive position in advance industries is weak,” ITIF founder president Robert D. Atkinson, who co-authored the report, said in a statement.

“There is no silver bullet that will address Canada’s challenges in innovation, productivity and competitiveness Nor will it suffice to simply focus on macroeconomic factors like tax rates, infrastructure, and education,” he said.

“Instead, policymakers must develop a clear understanding of the underlying factors that drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and then tailor strategies to improve Canada’s performance in specific industries and technologies.”

The Centre examined more than three dozen indicators of innovation, productivity and competitiveness in Canada’s economy. Among the report’s findings:

  • Canada lags peer competitors on key innovation indicators, particularly in the areas of research and development, intellectual property and innovation outcomes.

“Canada has seen particularly poor performance in business expenditures on R&D, with firms drastically underspending on R&D investments compared with other countries even after adjusting for GDP as well as firm size.” Canada is essentially tied for last with Australia and Polar among the comparator counties in business spending on R&D.

  • Canada’s productivity performance has been dismal. For comparison, U.S. labour productivity growth was 160 per cent faster than Canada’s from 2002 to 2020 – and America’s growth in that period was actually low in historical terms.

“It is clear that one reason for lagging productivity performance is lagging investment in new capital equipment (machinery, equipment, software, computers, etc.).” Within Canada, machinery and equipment expenditures as a share of total consumption expenditures peaked in the mid-2000s at around 6.2 per cent and have since fallen to almost 4 per cent in 2023.

  • From industry to industry, Canadian labour productivity growth is quite divergent, with some sectors growing substantially and others actually declining.
  • Canada’s competitive position in advanced industries is weak, as its global market shares have fallen dramatically over the last 25 years. The country now has 42 per cent less advanced-industry output as a share of its economy than the global average.
  • Canada’s crisis cannot be adequately understood or addressed by looking only at broad macro factors such as tax rates, infrastructure, and education. Policymakers must develop economic strategies focusing on firm, sector and technology levels.

Canada’s economic stagnation “poses a significant threat to Canada as an aging population increasingly exerts a drag on economic growth and as lower relative living standards increase outmigration of knowledge workers to America,” the report says.

Canada’s proximity to the U.S. market provides opportunities to Canadian companies, but it also is a “black hole” gravitational pull that attracts Canadian talent, intellectual property and companies, according to the report.

“Moreover, Canada’s foreign branch plant firms, built behind a 100-year tariff wall, create industrial capability that might not otherwise have emerged, but that also means limited research and development and exports.”

To address the problems with innovation, productivity and competitiveness, the report says more could be done to encourage universities to play a stronger role in supporting private sector innovation.

On average, U.S. university technology transfer offices supported patent applications at almost twice the rate that Canadian ones did in 2012, and that disparity grew to three times in the ensuing decade, according to the report.

Canada has one of the highest rates of investment in R&D by the higher-education/postsecondary sector, the report notes. It says Canada’s relative performance in university technology commercialization and startups should be much higher than it is compared with other nations, given this level of funding.

Yet, in the absence of a robust technology transfer system and pathways to commercialization, R&D from the higher education sector is unable to provide significant economic benefits to firms and the broader economy in the same way that business R&D can, the report says. “ Simply having the “ingredient” of R&D performed at universities is not adequate to grow a globally competitive technology economy.”

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit could be redesigned to be a spur to R&D increases, the report suggests.

The SR&ED program “and overall corporate tax regime heavily favour small to medium-sized firms, thereby disincentivizing Canadian firms from reaching the size necessary to take advantage of returns to scale on R&D,” the report says.

Canadian policymakers could stop looking to Europe as a regulatory model for emerging technologies and instead look to the U.S. for ways to grow a globally vibrant technology economy, the report says.

Also, more could be done to create a Canadian single market, rather than a market of 10 provinces. “Ottawa could adopt a robust, sectoral-based productivity strategy,” the report says. And more could be done to place innovation, productivity and competitiveness renewal at the centre of Canadian politics, for all the political parties.

On a positive note, the report says Canada is growing the number of artificial intelligence jobs at a faster rate than any company. “This portends real opportunities for the Canadian economy, especially if it can continue to support AI research and not put in place a regulatory system that limits AI innovation and use.”

Canada also is deploying AI at roughly the same rate as most of the comparator countries, apart from China, according to the report.

Also, Canada spends the third-most in the world on software amongst comparator countries, “indicating that firm-level investments into software do not appear to be the major culprit behind Canada’s perennial corporate investment gap.”

The report outlines 10 principles to guide policymakers’ efforts to improve Canadian innovation, productivity and competitiveness:

  1. Reject “silver bullet” solutions.
  2. Move past the idea that national economies can succeed on just basic economic ingredients, such as effective trade agreements, good universities, the rule of law, educated workers, good broadband, etc.

Canada is alone among countries where an increase in skilled workers doesn’t support technological change in the economy, and “that skilled workers were allocated mainly to the Skilled Non-Market Services” (e.g., health care, higher education, government, etc.).

  1. Think in terms of specific industries and technologies, not markets and the overall economy. “An effective national productivity policy needs to be based on an analysis of individual industries and, when appropriate, broader production systems.”
  2. Look to “productionists” for advice on innovation, productivity and competitiveness.

Mainstream economists, who study the overall economy, markets and prices, aren’t the best positioned to provide the kind of advice needed to solve Canada’s innovation, productivity and competitiveness problems, the study says. Canada needs to look to productionists for guidance – analysts who have a deep understanding of firm, industry and technology dynamics.

  1. Focus less on industrial recruitment and more on supporting companies already in Canada.

A core of Canada’s growth strategy appears to be spending enormous resources, including financial, on “incentivizing” multinational corporations to build factories in the country, the study says. Instead, it says, Canadian policy “should be more focused on helping firms in Canada, regardless of where they are headquartered, become more competitive, productive, and innovative.”

  1. The only way to avoid the gravitational pull of the U.S. is for Canada to make its own.

“Canada’s innovation strategy should seek to build up innovation assets in a few key regions,” to create world-class technology hubs. To succeed, Canadian hubs will need to specialize and focus on key niche areas where the country can attain global distinctiveness, the study says.

  1. See big and medium-sized businesses as beautiful.

Canadian firms with more than 500 employees pay their workers on average 44 percent more than do small firms, and large businesses create more jobs, the study says. Larger Canadian firms are also much more likely to adopt a range of information technologies in their production processes. Large firms invest more in R&D than small firms. And large technology firms employ a higher share of non-technology workers than do smaller ones, something that is key because not everyone has the capabilities or interest to be an engineer.

Canada should seek to build more middle-sized) firms, as Germany has, as these have the heft to not only better compete globally but also remain independent and Canadian headquartered, the study says.

  1. Embrace North American integration, not

Foreign investment in Canada brings jobs, valuable human capital development, and investment, the study notes. “Canada should seek to find areas for deeper integration with the U.S. economy, including in policy.”

  1. Reject the precautionary principle and embrace the innovation principle.

If Canada wants to turn around its IPC performance, it needs stop looking to Europe’s embracing the “precautionary principle” for guidance and instead take a time-out on new technology regulatory interventions, focusing instead on technology promotion. “For example, rather than ask how to regulate AI, policymakers should be asking how to promote AI.”

  1. Make innovation, productivity and competitiveness a top priority.

The study says if Canada is to effectively address its innovation, productivity and competitiveness (IPC) challenges, it will have to start with value changes and building a narrative across government, companies, universities, and the media around the need for focus on IPC progress. “Until that happens, progress is likely to be incremental and halting.”

“Pundits, economists and Canadians across the country are waking up to the fact that the economic status quo will lead to a less prosperous Canada,” said Lawrence Zhang, the Centre’s head of policy and co-author of the report. “Public and private sector leaders should take advantage of the growing consensus and use this momentum to make bold economic reforms.” ITIF


Businesses facing more competition are more likely to be innovative: Statistics Canada report

Canadian businesses that faced competition in 2022 were more likely to be innovative, according to a report by Statistics Canada (StatsCan).

Among business who had known competitors in their main market, more than three-quarters (76.7 per cent) introduced innovations during the period from 2020 to 2022, compared with fewer than two in five businesses (38.8 per cent) with no competitors.

Businesses facing more competitors also were more likely to introduce innovations from 2020 to 2022 than businesses with fewer competitors. Approximately four in five businesses (80.6 per cent) that had 11 or more competitors in their main market introduced innovations, while just under seven in 10 businesses (68.6 per cent) who indicated that they had one to three competitors were innovative.

Multinational businesses were more innovative than non-multinational businesses, StatsCan says. During the period from 2020 to 2022, 85.6 per cent of multinational businesses introduced some form of innovation, compared with 69.8 per cent of non-multinational businesses.

Canadian multinationals were more innovative, with 91.6 per cent introducing innovations during the period from 2020 to 2022, which is higher than the 83-per-cent innovation rate among foreign multinational businesses.

Using advanced technology promotes innovation, and performs new functions or significantly improves some functioning compared with commonly used technologies, according to StatsCan.

Nearly half (47.2 per cent) of all businesses used at least one advanced technology in 2022. During the period from 2020 to 2022, these businesses (85.2 per cent) were more likely to be innovative than non-users of advanced technology (60 per cent).

In 2022, the proportion of businesses using clean technologies increased by 1.3 percentage point from 2019, to 9.9 per cent. Large businesses (15.5 per cent) were more likely to use clean technologies than medium businesses (9.9 per cent) or small businesses (9.5 per cent) in 2022.

The utilities sector (33.5 per cent) was the top user of clean technologies in 2022.

More than one-fifth (21.2 per cent) of businesses in Canada reported owning at least one type of intellectual property (IP) assets in 2022, StatsCan said.

Businesses owning IP assets were more likely to introduce innovations (83.9 per cent) during the period from 2020 to 2022, compared with 68.6 per cent of businesses that did not own IP assets.

For businesses that owned IP assets in 2022, trademarks were the most common type, with 13.7 per cent of businesses reporting owning trademarks, either in Canada or abroad.

In 2022, multinational businesses were significantly more likely (49 per cent) to own IP assets, compared with 16.9 per cent of non-multinational businesses. Among these multinationals, Canadian entities had higher rates of IP ownership (57.6 per cent) than their foreign counterparts operating in Canada (45.3 per cent).

Furthermore, multinational businesses were more proactive in protecting their product innovations through IP rights. During the period from 2020 to 2022, 62.9 per cent of multinational businesses that developed a product innovation in Canada sought IP protection for their innovation, whereas 31.7 per cent of non-multinational businesses did the same.

Specifically, over seven in 10 (72 per cent) of Canadian multinationals filed for IP protection for their product innovations, compared with 57.2 per cent of foreign multinational businesses.

In 2022, businesses identified the most significant shortages in skills within three main areas: skilled trades (28 per cent), management (15 per cent) and business (11.4 per cent), StatsCan said.

The construction sector showed the highest skilled trades shortage rate; however, businesses that were innovative or used advanced technologies were more likely to report overall skill shortages. Indeed, 57.2 per cent of innovative businesses and 57.9 per cent of advanced technology users reported having skill shortages, compared with 31.8 per cent of non-innovative businesses and 43 per cent of non-advanced technology users.

Businesses that reported skill shortages took measures to overcome these challenges. Training staff (53.3 per cent), retention strategy (50.8 per cent) and targeted recruitment process (49.4 per cent) were the most common measures taken by businesses to overcome skill shortages.

In 2022, Canadian business strategies for the next five years showed a preference for product positioning over cost cutting. Specifically, just over half of businesses (51.2 per cent) chose product positioning as their key long-term strategy, while 45.2 per cent of businesses valued both product positioning and cost leadership equally. A small portion (3.6 per cent) prioritized cost leadership for the period from 2023 to 2027.

Competition is associated with a focus on product positioning as a key long-term strategy. In 2022, over half (54.1 per cent) of the businesses that had competitors in their main market planned to focus on product positioning as their main long-term strategy, while 44.7 per cent of the businesses that indicated they had no competitors reported product positioning as their main long-term strategy. StatsCan


New policies needed to encourage and support more employee-owned businesses

A suite of new policies is required to encourage and support more employee-owned businesses in Canada, according to a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

 The federal government has tabled legislation to create a new Employee Ownership Trust legal structure. Also, Budget 2024 included a capital gains tax exemption for sales of businesses to employee ownership trusts.

This would be a powerful tool to convert conventional investor-owned firms to employee-owned businesses without out-of-pocket costs to workers, say the authors of the report, “Expanding democratic employee ownership in Canada.”

However, authors Alex Hemingway and Simon Pek argue that to tap the full potential of employee ownership, a much broader suite of policies is needed.

Workers create the value that becomes corporate profit, which largely flows to a highly concentrated set of owners. More worker ownership and control would counter this extreme inequality and increasingly concentrated and unaccountable economic institutions, the authors said

“Why should democracy stop at the door of the workplace?” co-author Hemingway, senior economist and public finance policy analyst at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC Office, said in a statement.

“Why should the institutions that govern our daily lives be beyond the control of the people who work in them and why shouldn’t working people be the owners and beneficiaries of their labour?”

The authors define “democratic employee-owned firms” as those in which employees own a majority of the firm’s shares, employee-owners have meaningful control rights, and ownership is allocated in a broad-based and equitable manner.

Whether taking the form of worker cooperatives, employee ownership trusts, or employee stock ownership plans, employee-owned firms have enjoyed considerable successes in jurisdictions like Italy, Spain, the U.S., France, and the U.K., the authors said. But employee-owned firms remain relatively rare in Canada, although the sector is more substantial in Quebec.

Economic research shows that employee-owned firms perform as well or better than conventional firms on measures like productivity, Hemingway and Pek said. Decades of economic and social research suggest that employee-owned firms significantly benefit workers and society more broadly.

The benefits of employee ownership can include reduced inequality, more job security, higher pay, and strong productivity and resilience, the authors said. 

More than three quarters of small business owners expect to transition out of their business, collectively representing over $2 trillion in assets, according to a report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. “Selling these businesses to employees will help keep these assets and jobs in their communities,” the authors said.

The barriers that can hold back employee ownership include challenges accessing capital, the need for clearer legal structures to facilitate the creation of employee-owned firms, and lack of a strong ecosystem of employe-owned firms and supporting institutions, they said.

“Through thoughtful, targeted public policy interventions, governments across Canada can help overcome the barriers that have made it difficult to create new democratic employee-owned firms from scratch or convert existing businesses to employee ownership,” said Pek, associate professor at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business.

Policy options outlined in the report to expand democratic employee ownership include:

  • Create a ministry or high-level public agency with a mandate to expand democratic employee ownership, review existing policy, and launch an awareness campaign.
  • Develop clearer legislative frameworks for employee-owned firms.
  • Provide seed grants to regional democratic employee ownership centres and development agencies.
  • Make permanent the new partial capital gains tax exemption for sales of existing firms to Employee Ownership Trusts and extending it to worker cooperatives.
  • Set a lower corporate income tax rate for democratic employee-owned firms.
  • Provide a limited tax break on dividend payouts or share allocations to workers in democratic employee-owned firms.
  • Ensure democratic employee-owned firms are eligible for existing public investment funds and business subsidies and supports. 
  • Create a dedicated capital development fund to allow employee-owned firms to access long-term finance without having to issue external equity.
  • Allow a tax deduction for financial institutions on a portion of interest income on loans to employee-owned firms.

Hemingway and Pek noted that most of these policies are in effect in jurisdictions with a significant employee ownership or worker cooperative sector, but nowhere have they been brought together in one place. They said that with a concerted public policy effort, Canada could facilitate a major expansion of democratic employee ownership. CPPA


Canada remains a top world financing provider to fossil fuel industry despite climate goals, two reports say

The federal government provided at least $18.6 billion to the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries in 2023, according to a report by Environmental Defence.

This amounts to a substantial amount of taxpayer money that went towards making it cheaper to find, extract, process, transport, and export fossil fuels and their derivatives, the environmental advocacy group said.

“Taxpayer handouts to Canada’s wealthiest companies means that less money is available for the types of investments that could actually help people across the country who are deciding between food and energy bills,” Julia Leven, associate director, national climate, at Environmental Defence, said in a statement.

Key points from Environmental Defence’s analysis include:

  • The 2023 total includes $8 billion in loan guarantees for the TransMountain expansion pipeline, $7.3 billion in public financing through Export Development Canada, and more than $1.3 billion for carbon capture and storage projects.
  • Over the last four years, the federal government’s total financial support to the oil and gas industry was at least $65 billion.

That level of support could have fully funded every major wind and solar project in Canada from 2019-2021 12 times over, Environmental Defence said. It is 10 times what the government has invested in climate change adaptation since 2015. Around half of that – $35 billion – is enough to double transit ridership across the country over the next 12 years.

  • The climate pollution created by oil and gas companies has massive costs, including health costs, property damage from extreme weather events, and decreased agricultural productivity due to changing weather patterns. In 2023, the cost to society of the pollution from oil and gas companies operating in Canada was an estimated $52 billion.
  • The uptake of electric vehicles and renewable energy is set to decrease the consumption of fossil fuels this decade.

Oil and gas companies are increasingly looking to petrochemicals, which are then used to make other derivatives such as plastics) to preserve their business and profits, Environmental Defence said. “As a result, there are more and more petrochemical projects in Canada seeking subsidies.” For example, NOVA Chemicals Corporation secured a $300-million loan from Export Development Canada, in one of the Crown corporation’s largest single transactions.

  • Rather than subsidizing the oil and gas industry, federal government should be taxing their excessive profits. Oil and gas extraction companies in Canada made $270 billion in total revenue and $63 billion in profits in 2022 (the most recent year available). “Putting in place a tax on the massive profits of oil and gas companies could bring in billions of dollars.”

Although the federal government has taken some important steps towards eliminating fossil fuel financing – including new rules ending international public financing as well as inefficient fossil fuel subsidies – this has not translated into lower levels of financial support, Environmental Defence said.

This is because most of Canada’s financial support is provided by Export Development Canada for domestic oil, gas and petrochemical companies, and therefore has not been addressed by new policies, the group said.

Canada was the top fossil fuel financier between 2020 and 2022, providing US$10.9 billion, according to a separate report by Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth U.S. The other nations in the top three fossil fuel financiers list were Korea and Japan.

G20 countries, export credit agencies and multilateral development banks provided  financing of at least US$47 billion per year to oil, natural gas and coal projects between 2020 and 2022, the report found.

Export credit agencies provided the highest public financing, accounting for 66 per cent of all known fossil fuel activity between 2020 and 2022, the report said.

The World Bank Group provided the most direct finance for fossil fuels of any multilateral development bank, at $1.2 billion a year on average. At least 68 per cent of this was for fossil gas. 

There is momentum to shift international direct finance out of fossil fuels, the report noted. Eight out of the 16 signatories (including Canada) to the Clean Energy Transition Partnership with significant amounts of international energy finance have put in place policies that end their international fossil fuel support. 

“If countries and institutions honor existing commitments, 55 per cent of this fossil fuel support will end by the end of 2024,” the report said.

Clean energy finance is still too low, and not flowing to the countries that need it most, according to the report. It found:

  • Clean energy received almost $34 billion annually between 2020 and 2022.This is the highest annual average for clean finance since our dataset began in 2013, but is far below the estimates of the quantity and quality of public clean energy finance required to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • The top clean energy financiers between 2020 and 2022 were:France ($2.7 billion), Japan ($2.3 billion), and Germany ($2.3 billion).
  • The majority of clean energy finance is also not going where it is most needed,flowing overwhelmingly to wealthy countries. Just 3 per cent of all clean energy finance between 2020 and 2022 went to low-income countries. Only 18 per cent flowed to lower-middle-income countries.

The report recommended that G20 governments and multilateral development banks (MDBs):

  • implement whole-of-government policies (or whole-of-institution policies in the case of MDBs) to immediately end new public direct and indirect finance for oil, gas and coal projects. These policies must not include loopholes for technologies including carbon capture and storage, fossil-based hydrogen, ammonia co-firing, fossil gas and other “dangerous distractions.”
  • Dramatically scale up clean energy finance on fair terms, especially for transformative energy democracy and environmental justice priorities where need is greatest. This finance must be delivered on debt sustainable terms, and implemented with safeguards and standards to ensure all projects:
  • Reform their public reporting to ensure it is transparent and timely.
  • Provide their fair share of debt cancellation, climate finance and loss and damage support to countries in the Global South.
  • Work towards fair multilateral monetary, trade, tax, debt and financial regulation rules that are aligned with a safe 1.5°C climate pathway.

Globally, fossil fuel subsidies amounted to $7 trillion in 2022, or 7.1 per cent of global GDP, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund.

Explicit subsidies (undercharging for supply costs) have more than doubled since 2020 but are still only 18 per cent of the total subsidy, while nearly 60 per cent is due to undercharging for global warming and local air pollution, the report said.

Differences between efficient prices and retail fuel prices “are large and pervasive,” for example, 80 per cent of global coal consumption was priced at below half of its efficient level in 2022.

Fully reforming fossil fuel prices by removing explicit fuels subsidies and implementing correct taxes such as a carbon tax would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions to an estimated 43 per cent below “business-as-usual” levels in 2030 (in line with keeping global warming to 1.5-2oC), while raising revenues worth 3.6 per cent of global GDP and preventing 1.6 million local air pollution deaths per year, according to the report. Environmental Defence, Oil Change International


Canada may face another “catastrophic” wildfire season, as Alberta prepares to limit water use

Canada may be facing another “catastrophic fire season,” after a record-setting wildfire season last year, Public Safety Canada (PSC) says.

Climate change is causing extreme temperatures at a greater frequency than in the past, increasing the severity of heat waves and contributing to dry conditions, wildfires and heavy precipitation risks, PSC said.

The federal government released its forecast and early modeling of weather trends for 2024. “These metrics indicate that we may be facing another catastrophic fire season,” the agency said.

Since last year’s historic wildfire season, the federal government has worked closely with First Nations, provinces, territories and other emergency management partners to complete a robust lessons-learned review, PSC said. “As a result, we have engaged earlier in convening wildfire emergency preparedness planning and risk assessments.”

PSC said the federal government has increased its readiness for this wildfire season by supporting fire agencies across Canada in procuring specialized firefighting equipment through Natural Resources Canada’s $256-million Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate: Equipment Fund, and by training 630 firefighters and 125 fire Guardians.

 “We are also working closely with First Nations partners to incorporate their knowledge into our preparedness strategies and are supporting First Nations-led initiatives to build unique wildfire management capacities in communities.”

The government also is implementing advance payments to communities across the country. Instead of reimbursing costs, this new approach will allow First Nations to better prepare their communities and protect their infrastructure, and plan evacuations.

Ottawa also is supporting wildfire preparedness initiatives, including the acquisition of wildland firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment, wildfire training, and vegetation management projects in priority zones

This winter, Canadians experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures and widespread drought conditions across the country, adding to existing drought and low-water conditions.

The latest seasonal weather outlook indicates that higher-than-normal temperatures are expected for the spring and summer, boosted by El Nino weather conditions, PSC said. “This sets the stage for the possibility of another active wildfire season and other incidents of extreme weather.”

The warmer than normal winter temperatures and drier than usual conditions may result in some regions – in particular western Canada, eastern Ontario, and southern Quebec - experiencing early, above normal fire activity this April and May.

The federal government has created a Wildfires 2024 web page that includes information about programs, policies, and initiatives to keep Canadians informed about the wildfire situation and to support provincial and territorial efforts to combat wildfires.

 In Alberta, which is facing continued severe drought conditions, the provincial government has put in place what it said is the largest water-sharing agreement in the province’s history.

Municipalities, irrigation districts and industry players have signed memorandums of understanding covering four sub-basins — the Red Deer River, the Bow River, the mainstem of the Oldman River and upper tributaries of the Oldman.

Municipalities have agreed to cut their water use by between five and 10 per cent if needed, which wouldn’t affect indoor water consumption. Industries have agreed to use the smallest amount needed to operate safely and responsibly. Irrigation districts have agreed to allow other users to get their water first, then use the rest for licensed use.

The provincial government said the agreements will be triggered depending on reservoir levels, river flow and snowpack.

The Alberta government also is providing an additional $14 million to the Community Fireguard Program to support communities, bringing total funding to $19 million. In addition, the provincial budget included funding for two additional airtanker groups and two new night vision-equipped helicopters. PSC, CBC News


Expert panel reports on Canada’s legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis

Canada has made significant progress on several key objectives of the 2018 Cannabis Act, whereby Canada became the first major developed country to legalize and regulate cannabis, according to a Health Canada-appointed expert panels’ legislative review of the Act.

However, the five-member panel noted several areas of concern in its final report, including:

  • Trends related to youth use of cannabis. While youth use has remained relatively stable since the Cannabis Act, Canada continues to report among the highest rates of youth cannabis use in the world, and cannabis use among young adults has increased (surveys suggest more than four in 10 Canadians aged between 20 and 24 report using cannabis in the past year). 

“We find that the inadequate support for some interventions, particularly youth prevention initiatives, has contributed to this trend. Further, increasing reports of poisonings among children who have unintentionally consumed cannabis are troubling,” the panel said.

  • There is an apparent shift toward the consumption of higher-potency cannabis products, which carry greater health risk. There have been recent reports suggesting increases in cannabis-related health care presentations.
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis were not adequately consulted when the Act and related measures were developed. This has led to significant public health and public safety challenges in many communities and inequitable economic development opportunities. 
  • The legal cannabis industry has made substantial progress in shifting adult consumers to the legal cannabis market, although progress has been uneven across the country. The illicit cannabis market remains entrenched, and too many illicit retailers continue to operate both online and physical stores.
  • There are challenges for the sustainability of companies, particularly smaller-sized licensed cultivators and processors.
  • Industry representatives expressed concerns about the cost burden that the excise tax imposes on them, particularly the excise tax for dried cannabis, as well as the costs associated with regulatory fees and regulatory requirements that are imposed at both the federal and provincial and territorial levels.
  • While the Act contains serious offences and penalties to deter criminal activities with cannabis (such as unauthorized production and sale to youth), enforcement action has been limited due to shifting police priorities, inadequate resourcing and gaps in authority. A greater commitment to enforcement is needed to avoid undermining the integrity of the regime. 
  • The legalization of cannabis did not substantially facilitate research and there has been limited progress on evaluating the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Patients continue to report many challenges obtaining reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes, as well as difficulties finding reliable information, specific products, and supportive and knowledgeable health care professionals. The current lack of high-quality evidence can create difficulties for health care professionals and insurance providers faced with patient requests about the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

The report made 54 recommendations encompassing all the areas of concern identified by the panel. Health Canada

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities         

TIME magazine named artificial-intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research at Université de Montréal, and founder and scientific director of Mila – Quebec AI institute, to its annual list showcasing the world’s 100 most influential people. The TIME100 list recognizes the profound impact, innovation and achievements of the world’s leading individuals. Other notable figures in the 2024 ranking include Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, Russian public figure Yulia Navalnaya, and American football quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Université de Montréal

Western University neuroscientist Dr. Robyn Klein, an expert on the effects of viral infections in the brain, was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science class of Fellows. The 502 members of the 2023 class come from almost every field of science and are at the forefront of research into emerging technologies, environmental issues and innovative therapies. Klein’s groundbreaking work has included studying the effects of West Nile and Zika viruses as well as SARS-CoV-2 and the effects of long COVID on brain functions. Klein came to Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry from Washington University’s School of Medicine as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Neurovirology and Neuroimmunology – the second such appointment at Western. Seven researchers, including Klein, affiliated with Canadian postsecondary schools are recipients of the lifetime honour. The others are: Daolun Chen (Toronto Metropolitan University); Dolph Schluter (University of British Columbia); Ehab Abouheif (McGill University); Konrad Gajewski (University of Ottawa); Tamara Franz-Odendaal (Mount Saint Vincent University); and Sheena Josselyn (University of Toronto).Western University, AAAS

University of Ottawa scientist Jennifer Chandler was named the first Canadian winner of the 2024 Steven E. Hyman Award for Distinguished Service to the Field of Neuroethics. Awarded by the International Neuroethics Society, this international accolade is one of the most prestigious distinctions in the field. Chandler works at the intersection of law and biomedical science and technology, focusing her research on the law and ethics of the brain sciences and neurotechnology. She has played a foundational role in establishing international collaborations between academics and clinicians, leading the publication of the first international comparative study of the laws of “psychosurgery” which brought together leading functional neurosurgeons from Europe, Asia and the Americas. She is the coordinator of a research consortium entitled “Hybrid Minds: Experiential, ethical and legal investigation of intelligent neuroprostheses,” which studies the use of AI-based neuroprostheses as medical devices and the resulting ethical and legal questions that arise from their use. Chandler is a founding member of the uOttawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, and holds the Bertram Loeb Research Chair. uOttawa

Wisdom Tettey, University of Toronto vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough, has been named the next president and vice-chancellor of Carleton University. A scholar of African politics, media and diaspora, Tettey will assume the leadership position at Carleton on Jan. 1, 2025. Tettey joined U of T as vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough in 2018 after serving as dean of arts and sciences at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. A professor of political science and development studies, Tettey championed the creation and adoption of the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Higher Education, a commitment by Canadian post-secondary institutions to recognize the impact of anti-Black racism and foster Black inclusion, and played a key role in strengthening U of T’s ties with post-secondary institutions in Africa. University of Toronto

McMaster University has created the first vice-provost, Indigenous role, with the search for the inaugural vice-provost, Indigenous to begin this spring. The position will be held by an Indigenous faculty member for a five-year, renewable term. The terms of reference for the position were created through a consultation process with more than 25 Indigenous faculty, staff, students and community members participating. McMaster said the introduction of the vice-provost, Indigenous position advances the university’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and reflects a shared understanding of the importance of having a leadership office dedicated specifically to Indigenous initiatives. The work of the vice-provost, Indigenous will be informed by the Indigenous community at McMaster. It includes responsibility for implementing and maintaining a university Indigenous education and research plan, providing vision and leadership for decolonization while furthering the Indigenization of the university. McMaster University

Luigi Pozzebon, vice-president of satellite systems at Brampton, Ont.-based MDA Space, was named to the prestigious 2024 “Best Executives” list by The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine. Pozzebon, who built a career at MDA Space over three decades, now heads the company’s rapidly growing global satellite business, developing some of the world’s most innovative satellite technologies from industry-leading satellite manufacturing facilities in Montreal. The Best Executive Awards program was established in 2020 to celebrate exceptional non-CEO leaders at Canadian corporations. MDA Space

Dr. Paula Mendonça was appointed the new executive director of the Ocean Startup Project. Mendonça is currently on secondment from her role as the director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Memorial University. She led the creation of the Lab2Market Oceans / Validate program and continued to oversee it since 2020. Her approach to innovation was developed through years of experience in ocean communities in Portugal and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Ocean Startup Project, which supports ocean-focused startups, leverages a network that includes Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and partners across the country. Ocean Startup Project

Leveraging gamers and video game technology can dramatically boost scientific research according to a study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. 4.5 million gamers around the world have advanced medical science by helping to reconstruct microbial evolutionary histories using a minigame included inside the critically and commercially successful video game, Borderlands 3. Their playing has led to a significantly refined estimate of the relationships of microbes in the human gut. The results of this collaboration will both substantially advance knowledge of the microbiome and improve on the AI programs that will be used to carry out this work in future. The project was led by McGill University researchers, developed in collaboration with Texas-based Gearbox Entertainment Company and Massively Multiplayer Online Science, a Swiss IT company connecting scientists to video games. The project was supported by the expertise and genomic material from the Microsetta Initiative led by Rob Knight at the University of California San Diego. The research was funded in part by Genome Canada and Génome Québec. McGill University

The world’s warming climate shifts the dynamics of tundra environments and makes them release trapped carbon, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. These changes could transform tundras from carbon sinks into a carbon source, exacerbating the effects of climate change. “We see that some areas, particularly parts of Siberia and Canada, exhibit greater sensitivity to warming,” says Professor Matti Kummu of Aalto University. A team of over 70 scientists from different countries used “open-top chambers” (OTCs) to experimentally simulate the effects of warming on 28 tundra sites around the world. OTCs basically serve as mini-greenhouses, blocking wind and trapping heat to create local warming. The warming experiments led to a 1.4 degrees Celsius increase in air temperature and a 0.4 degrees increase in soil temperature, along with a 1.6 per cent drop in soil moisture. These changes boosted ecosystem respiration by 30 per cent during the growing season, causing more carbon to be released because of increased metabolic activity in soil and plants. The changes persisted for at least 25 years after the start of the experimental warming – which earlier studies hadn’t revealed. The increase in ecosystem respiration also varied with local soil conditions, such as nitrogen and pH levels. This means that differences in soil conditions and other factors lead to geographic differences in the response – some regions will see more carbon release than others. Understanding the links between soil conditions and respiration in response to warming is important for creating better climate models. A separate study found that the permafrost region, about 14 million square kilometres of land in and around the Arctic, has already shifted from being a carbon sink to being a small source of carbon due to warming temperatures. The researchers estimate that the northern permafrost region emitted 38 million tonnes of methane and 670,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere between 2000 and 2020. When accounting for lateral fluxes such as erosion, the region was also a source of 144 million tonnes tons of carbon and 3 million metric tons of nitrogen. That’s very little compared with the emissions of a major industrialized country, but the pace may accelerate as the world warms. The top three metres of permafrost contain an estimated 1 trillion tonnes of carbon and 55 billion tonnes of nitrogen. The study was published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Umeå University, Eos


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