Special Report

Ottawa’s superclusters unlikely to hit goals for job creation, GDP growth: Budget watchdog

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux in Ottawa in March 2020. The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

The federal government’s superclusters program is underspending and will miss its ambitious targets for job creation and GDP growth, according to a report released Tuesday morning by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). 

The Liberal government announced the program in the 2017 federal budget, pledging $950 million over five years for organizations it said would help forge strong links between firms and research institutions, develop more skilled talent and share the risks involved in developing disruptive technologies. In February 2018, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced the five successful consortia, focused on digital technology, proteins, advanced manufacturing, AI and oceans. 

But protracted contract negotiations between Ottawa and the new organizations meant the first projects were only unveiled in March 2019. ISED has already pushed back its superclusters targets by a year, citing the time it took to evaluate applications. The PBO’s report offers the first independent look at how the program is proceeding. Here’s what you need to know.

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