Canadian space sector asks Ottawa to reinvest in industry
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains addresses employees at the Canadian Space Agency, in St-Hubert, Que., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 7, 2016 9:41AM EST
MONTREAL -- An organization that represents firms in the Canadian space sector is asking the Liberal government to reinvest in the industry to help it regain ground that was lost to its competitors in recent years.
Marc Boucher, executive director of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, says Canada has fallen behind other countries in terms of research and development spending as a portion of GDP.
"We have to keep investing at least as much as everyone else so we foster new technologies and innovations," Boucher said in an interview. "To make that happen there has to be a recognition on the Canadian government's part that this has to be an important part of the economy."
In February, his organization provided a pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Commission on Finance in which it is requesting a $25 million annual increase in the Canadian Space Agency's development program for the next four years.
Boucher says more investment is needed to ensure the country keeps developing new technologies in areas like small satellites, which are used for everything from telecommunications to banking to crop management.
"We have geographically a large country, and we're just starting to realize how much satellites can help us in terms of security, in terms of agriculture, in terms of disaster response," he said.
His organization's budget submission also asks the federal government to fund a university-led satellite design contest, with a commitment to launching the winning entry into space.
"Those students are the future workforce," he said. "We need to keep them in Canada instead of having them move on to other countries."
Boucher is also calling on the Liberal to honour their election promise to collaborate with the industry on a long-term space plan.
In September, then-MP Marc Garneau, who has since been named Transport Minister, told the Canadian Press that such a plan should include "a very strong signal that Canada is going to use space to help us, particularly with respect to the environmental changes that are occurring on our planet and in our oceans."
Boucher said he has yet to meet with the new government, but is "looking forward to work with them on a viable long-term space plan."