Briefing

Federal government will look into additional funding for CIFAR and the Vector Institute following provincial cuts

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Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains criticized Ontario’s funding reductions to MaRS, Invest Ottawa and Communitech. “I’m really sad to see these cuts; they’re wrongheaded and they undermine our economic growth and job-creation agenda,” Bains told The Logic at the Collision Conference. He cited the high quality of artificial intelligence research from the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR) and Vector—which saw $24 million in funding cuts between them—as a reason for more potential funding for these institutes. “We’ll see what we can do going forward with them. Because we want to see some of that incredible talent remain in Canada. The Geoffrey Hintons, the Yoshua Bengios, the Richard Suttons all came from CIFAR. So why would we want to undermine our leadership role? Why would we want to undermine all the investments we’ve [made] in AI? We will continue to make investments, but we will look at everything on a case-by-case basis.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: The minister would not respond directly when asked if the government was corresponding with Vector or CIFAR. In April, the federal government stepped in with $52.4 million for MaRS, Invest Ottawa and Communitech just before the institutions saw provincial funding cuts. Both the provincial and federal governments say tech is an important economic sector for them, but the two are increasingly at loggerheads over the best way to support it. That’s in sharp contrast to the first few years of Justin Trudeau’s government, when Ontario and the federal government would regularly co-invest in projects.