Engineers Canada is pleased to see the federal government’s continued commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, infrastructure investments, universal broadband access, and innovation, as laid out in Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience.
“Engineers possess the skillset to develop innovative solutions in response to complex challenges, and engineers stand ready to play an important role in the immediate, short-, and long-term as Canada recovers economically from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gerard McDonald, CEO of Engineers Canada. “Engineers Canada is happy to see the investments that Budget 2021 makes in key areas affecting the engineering profession.”
Engineers Canada has been actively advocating for continued support for equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives across Canada, as well as support for the recruitment, retention, and professional development of women in the engineering profession. Support for women at each point along the engineering continuum, from undergraduate education to the workforce, formed one of the key recommendations in our pre-budget submission to the federal government in August 2020. Budget 2021 acknowledges that women are significantly underrepresented in engineering programs and that they face more barriers in STEM subjects than their male counterparts. We are encouraged by the government’s commitment to tackling long-standing gaps in education and skills development by supporting the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and the Student Work Placement Program.
Engineers Canada has been advocating for increased supports for women in the engineering profession, especially in light of the disproportionate effects that COVID-19 economic impacts have had on women’s participation in the national economy. We are pleased to see Budget 2021’s significant focus on supporting women’s re-entry into the workforce following the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has committed to creating an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.
Budget 2021 also makes substantial investments in infrastructure. Specifically, it proposes to provide $22.6 million over four years to Infrastructure Canada to conduct Canada’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which will help identify needs and priorities for Canada’s built environment. Canada’s engineering profession stands ready to help the government achieve their infrastructure goals.
Engineers Canada has advocated for sustainable digital broadband infrastructure and we applaud the government for its commitments to provide an additional $1 billion over six years to the Universal Broadband Fund to support a more rapid roll-out of broadband projects. In total, $2.75 billion will be made available through the Universal Broadband Fund to support Canadians in rural and remote communities.
Engineers Canada encouraged the federal government to invest in research and development and innovation in Canada. Budget 2021 proposes to provide the Strategic Innovation Fund with an incremental $7.2 billion over seven years on a cash basis, starting in 2021-22, and $511.4 million ongoing. The technology sector is a key driver of Canada’s economic competitiveness on the global stage and will form an important part of Canada’s recovery post-COVID-19. Engineers are at the forefront of many technology companies and are key drivers of innovation.
Engineers Canada submitted budget recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance in August 2020. This pre-budget submission called for the acceleration of infrastructure projects promised in the Investing in Canada Plan program and support for green infrastructure investments; continued support for efforts to build Canada’s high-speed broadband connectivity through sustainable digital infrastructure; and continued support for equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives across Canada. Read the full submission on Engineers Canada’s website.