KEY BUDGET DRIVER FORECASTS 2009/10 to 2012/13
Key Budget Driver: Politics
Indicator: Government Trends and Implications
Prepared by: Government Relations
Section A: Provincial/Federal/Municipal Trends
In its February 2009 Speech from the Throne and April 7 budget, the Alberta Government’s goal was to emphasize
Alberta’s economic stability in light of increasing global economic uncertainty and to present an economic plan for
the Province to ensure its strong re-emergence when the international economy recovers from the current recession.
The four-point plan focused on: watching Government spending, utilizing emergency savings to cushion the impact
of the downturn, continue investing in people and public infrastructure, and aggressively marketing Alberta to the
Budget 2009 marked the first deficit budget the Province has experienced in 16 years. The forecast $4.7 billion deficit
is largely a result of decreased revenues rather than increased spending. Due to the economic downturn, natural
resource revenues, particularly in the non-renewable energy sector, were forecast to be down as much as 50 per cent.
Additionally, lower GDP and income were forecast to result in lower corporate and income taxes.
Highlights of the overall budget include:
Revenue is estimated at $31.7B.
o Non-renewable resource revenue is forecast at $5.9B (18.6 per cent of total revenue) a decline of $6.4B.
o Personal Income Tax is forecast at $8.6B (27 per cent of total revenue), a decline in last year’s forecast of
o Corporate Income Tax Revenue is forecast at $2.4B (7.7 per cent of total revenue), a decline in last year’s
forecast of $1.3B.
o Investment Income is forecast at $1.8B (5.7 per cent of total revenue).
Health Care Premiums were formally cut and represent a reduction in revenues of nearly $1B from last year.
Expense is estimated at $36.4B.
Operating Expense is forecast at $31.2B, an increase of 3.7 per cent.
o A 3.7 per cent increase, or $1.1B, in operating expense, to cover increases in health and education.
Capital spending will increase by 4.5 per cent.
o Capital Grants are forecast at $23.2B over three years and $7.2 billion for the 2009-2010 year.
Budgets 2010 and 2011 are forecast to increase operating spending by an average of 4.8 per cent.
Advanced Education and Technology
The Throne Speech and Budget emphasized the Premier’s commitment to building the next generation economy. The
Government has stated that strategic long term funding is a priority.
$3.1B - Total AET budget for 2009-10 (down from $3.4B last year).
o $2.65B total in operating, representing a 3.4 per cent overall increase to the AET budget.
o This has allowed a 6 per cent increase to base operating grants for post-secondary in 2009-10.
$484M to be spent on capital expenditures in 2009-10 (down from $834M last year).
o $1.2B for capital investments over 3 years - $870M for new investments and $328M for capital renewal
and deferred maintenance.
o The continued funding for Edmonton Clinic was one of 4 projects specifically noted.
For 2009-10 the 3000 additional spaces promised will be funded.
o By 2011-12 increased capacity for an additional 16K spaces.
o 63 additional medical students between Edmonton and Calgary. (An increase of 21per cent).
o 100 Bachelor of Nursing spaces in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge.
Access to the Future Fund – $48.6M will be paid out in 2009-10. At this time there will be no funds added to
increase the size of the endowment – this will be revisited if the economic situation changes.
$104M to help maintain momentum in research.
Health and Wellness
$12.9B - Total Health and Wellness budget for 2009-10 (down from $13.1B last year).
The operating grant to Alberta Health Services is budgeted at over $7.7B, an increase of 7.7 per cent
(excluding one-time assistance provided in 2008-09).
$3B is provided for physician services, an increase of $365M, or 13.8 per cent.
$2.3B for health facilities;
$268M for capital maintenance and renewal; and
$238M for health information systems.
Energy and Environment
$55M for biofuel initiatives.
$100M for carbon capture and storage. The 2009-12 Capital Plan includes $800M over three years to support
carbon capture and storage projects, part of the Province’s $2B commitment announced in July 2008.
$172M for initiatives to address climate change.
Employment and Immigration
$45M to continue implementation of the Health Workforce Action Plan.
Over the next three years, the Government has budgeted $23.2B in capital investments, the highest per capita
investment in Canada.
In the 2009-2010, the Government intends of investing $7.2B, a decrease from 2008-2009 of $1.5 billion.
For the 2009-2010 year, the Government committed $490M for post-secondary institutions.
At Budget, the Government forecast that it would be out of deficit spending by the 2012-2013 fiscal year. These
estimates were based on the assumptions that Canada’s economy will shrink by 2 per cent in 2009, while the world
economy recovers with 2 per cent growth in 2010. While third quarter fiscal updates forecast a $1.4B deficit for the
2008-09 year, fourth quarter fiscal updates released at the end of June reflect slightly improved economic conditions,
with the Province posting an $852M deficit for the 2008-09 fiscal year (excluding pension obligations). Despite this
improved financial standing, the Finance Minister has specified that the Province will likely face three more years of
deficit budgets, “due to the global economic turmoil and the downturn in the oil and gas prices. The Sustainability
Fund will help Alberta withstand these difficult years and emerge even stronger than before” (GOA News Release 06-
The Government has signaled that it will reduce its expenditure increases over the next few years until they align with
inflation, rather than exceeding 10 per cent increases as they have over the last few budgets. A significant shift in
Government policy, the Province will now borrow money for capital projects, but has stated that it will not borrow for
operational costs. The Government will not be adding to its savings over the next 3 years, which have fallen more
than $3B following the drop in equities and stocks. The debate over issuing bonds and borrowing for capital will
continue until the Province balances the books. The Province’s expenditure outlook will likely remain largely linked
to revenues, and given the Province’s reliance on natural resource royalty revenue, expenditures will likely be driven
by the price oil and gas. Given the persistently low price of natural gas, increasing value of the Canadian dollar, and
recent significant natural gas finds in the United States, the Province is now reporting that its budgeting assumptions
for 2009-10 were too high, and the Province’s revenues are expected to drop by an additional $2B, or more, this fiscal
year. This may delay the Province’s return to balanced budgets.
While overall Alberta has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, it has had one of the sharpest
increases in job losses resulting in part from the drop in energy prices and lack of credit access, which has stalled
several major energy projects. These high job losses and declines in provincial revenue have resulted in Alberta
calling for increased federal health transfers as well as increased employment insurance access. With the global
economy in recession and not expected to recover until early 2010, federal economic realities may limit Ottawa’s
ability and/or willingness to provide the additional requested funds.
The Government has sought efficiencies and targeted improved service delivery throughout all departments, resulting
in significant policy changes over the last 18 months, such as:
Bill 27, The Research and Innovation Act, consolidates the Provinces research granting councils down to 4
provincial board governed corporations. The 4 new organizations will cover bioindustries, energy and
environment, health, and bringing technology to the market. The change, mimicking the Roles and Mandates
institutional framework, is intended to ensure efficiency and maximum effect of research investments.
Alberta Health and Wellness is solidifying the new Alberta Health Services (AHS), which is taking over
responsibility for the 9 former regional health boards and is the provincial organization responsible for
providing health care delivery. While the newly formed AHS did receive an increase of 7.7 per cent in
operating grants from the Province, overall its expenses will increase by 13.2 per cent and as such it will be
facing a $1.1B operating deficit. CEO Stephen Duckett is overseeing every aspect of AHS as he finds roughly
$250M in efficiencies this fiscal year and a further $650M next year. Of the total $900M in efficiencies over
the next two years, $400M will come from administrative adjustments.
The Province released its Land-Use Framework, which imposes a decision-making process on developments
throughout the province. Environmental planning has been given greater recognition in the planning process
as it must be considered in tandem with economic development.
The Stelmach Government faces relatively little political pressure from opposition following the 2008 election. The
Government must however reconcile growing tensions between urban and rural interests, which may become more
pronounced by the severe drought conditions that have already forced several rural areas to declare states of
emergency. As the Stelmach Government contends with unforeseen agricultural bailouts, there will likely be
increased pressure on other portfolios to trim expenses.
The Government must also contend with persistent dissatisfaction in the Calgary oil patch concerning the
management of the royalty systems. This dissatisfaction has created room for growth of the Wildrose Party, which is
said to be engaged in fundraising in the oil sector. With the retirement of Deputy Premier Ron Stevens, the
Conservative Party now faces a by-election before October in the Calgary-Glenmore riding. A Cabinet shuffle is also
possible, given the new vacancies of both Deputy Premier and Minister of International and Intergovernmental
Relations caused by Ron Stevens’ retirement.
On October 14, 2008 the Conservative Party won 143 seats of a possible 305, forming their second consecutive
minority government since 2006. In total this is the third consecutive minority government since 2004. While the
election resulted in a stronger minority, with the Conservatives winning an additional 19 seats (12 shy of a majority)
the overall instability of the government has never been greater. Although all parties initially signaled they would
work together in a spirit of non-partisan cooperation, the November 27 Economic Update was considered insufficient
to address worsening economic conditions, and on December 4th 2008, Canada’s Governor General agreed to
prorogue Canada’s 40th Parliament, preventing a coalition vote of non-confidence that would have caused an election.
On January 27, Budget 2009: Canada’s Economic Action Plan, was released, outlining the Government of Canada’s
response to the global economic downturn that would “stimulate [the] economy,” while “...making [the] deliberate
choice to run a substantial short-term deficit.” Rather than vote down the budget prompting an election, the Liberals
supported the Budget provided the Government report regularly as to the status of their Economic Action Plan.
Five main action areas shaped Canada’s Economic Action Plan, as noted in the Budget Speech:
1. Help families and stimulate consumer spending
2. Help Canadians hit hardest by the global recession
3. Protect jobs and support businesses
4. Ensure access to financing for businesses, and stability in our financial system
5. Immediate action to build infrastructure
The Speech focused on keeping Canada on track to economic stabilization, with stimulus funding intended to be
targeted, timely and temporary. Immediate funding was allocated to infrastructure projects (including the $2B
Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP) aimed at post-secondary institutions), reviving faltering industries, thawing
the credit markets, and providing assistance to Canadians to resume consumer spending.
Specific areas of interest for the University of Alberta that Budget 2009 supported include:
Help families and stimulate consumer spending
$8.3B for the Canadian Skills and Transition Strategy. This included:
An additional $87.5M over three years to temporarily expand the Canada Graduate Scholarships program.
o $35M for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
o $35M for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
o $17.5M for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
o An additional 500 doctoral scholarships, valued at $35,000 each per year for three years beginning in
o An additional 1,000 master’s scholarships, valued at $17,500 each for one year, in both 2009–10 and
Scholarships granted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will be focused on business-
An additional $3.5M over two years to offer an additional 600 graduate internships through the Industrial
Research and Development Internship program.
Responding to skilled labour shortages with $40M a year to launch the $2,000 Apprenticeship Completion
$50M over two years for a national foreign credential recognition framework
An additional $100M over three years in the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership (ASEP)
$75M in a two-year Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund
$55M over two years to help young Canadians find summer jobs
Increasing funding for training delivered through the Employment Insurance program by $1B over two years
$500M over two years in a Strategic Training and Transition Fund to support the particular needs of
individuals who do not qualify for EI training
Of special interest to the University of Alberta, is the effect of Budget 2009 to Canada’s three research granting
councils over the next three years:
The Budget document highlights that “through closer coordination, these agencies are improving the
effectiveness of existing programs, aligning their programs with their core roles and fostering the
development of innovative new programs” (p.270). This streamlining will result in savings of $148.7M from
the base funding for the agencies: $17.7M in 2009-10, $43M in 2010-11 and $87.2M in 2011-12.
The Budget further specifies that “These savings will be used in this budget to support repairs at
postsecondary institutions, to upgrade key Arctic research facilities, to expand the Canada Graduate
Scholarships program and graduate internships, and to support new world-class research facilities” (p.270).
Immediate Action to Build Infrastructure
Budget 2009 accelerated and expanded the Federal Government’s $33B 2007-2014 Building Canada infrastructure
plan, with almost $12B in infrastructure stimulus funding to be disbursed over the next two years. This includes:
The Knowledge and Infrastructure Program (KIP), which will provide up to $2B to repair, retrofit and expand
facilities at post-secondary institutions.
o Preference given to projects at universities that can improve the quality of research and development
at the institution.
o 70 per cent of the funding is dedicated to university infrastructure and the remaining 30 per cent for
infrastructure at colleges.
o Allocation was based on project merit and readiness.
o The funds paid for up to half of project costs, levering an equivalent amount from other partners
(such as the provinces).
o In May 2009, the University of Alberta received $52M toward 3 projects from the KIP.
$750M for research infrastructure through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
o $150M to increase the funding available for meritorious projects in the 2009 Leading Edge and New
Initiatives Funds Competition.
o $600M for future activities of the Foundation, including the launch of one or more new competitions
by December 2010 in support of areas of priority identified by the Minister of Industry in
consultation with the CFI, and guided by the Foundation’s strategic plan.
$87M over the next two years to maintain or upgrade key Arctic research facilities.
$2M to undertake a feasibility study for a proposed High Arctic research station.
$85M to invest in maintaining or upgrading key existing Arctic research facilities.
$4B Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to provide funding to renew infrastructure.
$1B over five years for the Green Infrastructure Fund to support projects such as sustainable energy.
Accelerating up to $1B in payments over two years under the Provincial-Territorial Base Funding Initiative to
expedite "ready-to-go" infrastructure projects.
Up to $500M over the next two years for infrastructure projects in small communities.
$50M to the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Ontario to build a new world-class research
$250M over two years to address deferred maintenance at federal laboratories.
$500M to Canada Health Infoway to encourage the greater use of electronic health records.
$225M over three years to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to unserved
Action to Support Businesses and Communities
Budget 2009 provided $7.5B in support for sectors, regions and communities. This included:
Creation of a new Clean Energy Fund that will support clean energy research development and demonstration
projects, including carbon capture and storage.
$50M over five years to establish a new regional economic development agency for the North and $90M over
five years to renew the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development program.
$200M over two years to the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program to enable
it to expand its initiatives temporarily for small and medium-sized businesses.
Targeted two-year funding of $60M to support infrastructure-related costs for local and community cultural
and heritage institutions such as local theatres, libraries and small museums.
In the June 11th release of the Second Budget Report, the federal deficit was forecast at approximately $50.2B, not
only the largest in Canadian history, but also significantly larger than was anticipated when the Budget was released
in January ($34B). The reasons given for the deficit increase were: lower taxes, increased Employment Insurance
claims, and additional measures taken to stabilize the auto industry. The Report also highlighted that 80 per cent of
the planned expenditures in Canada’s Economic Action Plan currently “are either flowing, or there are commitments
in place that will allow the funds to flow to specific projects and initiatives” (p.7).
The Liberals voted in favour of the Budget Report, seeking and winning clarifications or further measures on 4 issues
before offering their support: Employment Insurance reforms, infrastructure spending clarifications, public finance
planning for the post-recession recovery, and measures to address the medical isotopes shortage. The House will
return in the fall, with the first opposition opportunity to trigger an election in late September.
In addition to the economy, the environment including new US climate change related legislation and the Copenhagen
summit, US-Canada relations under the leadership of President Obama and the upcoming G-8 and G-20 meetings
hosted by Canada will also be key issues that will dominate the federal agenda. These issues are all significant both
domestically and internationally and will keep Canada in the global spotlight.
The Conservatives are said to be ready for an election and simply waiting for approval ratings to rise. Since uniting
the Liberals under his leadership in December 2008, Michael Ignatieff has increased the Liberal Party’s presence on
the national scene, and while his personal approval ratings are not yet as high as Prime Minister Harper’s, the Liberals
have steadily increased their polling numbers across the country. The Conservatives face challenging times, however,
with the continued recession, increased dissatisfaction with high profile ministers in the cabinet, and falling approval
ratings nationwide. Conservative Party election readiness is rumored to focus on seats throughout the rest of the
country rather than on winning back Quebec, where the Conservative Government has lost significant support since
last fall. This expected loss of seats, coupled with the recent election of an NDP government in Nova Scotia and
Western Premier agreement on Employment Insurance issues (a Liberal election plank), may be early signals of a
shifting political landscape nationally that could increase the odds of a Liberal minority government in the next 6-12
months. Additionally, the Harper Government is facing increased pressure to ensure Canada keeps its highly qualified
personnel in light of significant increases to science and technology and research development in the US.
Edmonton City Council is midway through its three-year term in office. After 19 months of working together, there is
stability in Council, with Mayor Stephen Mandel in his 4th year as Mayor. It is still uncertain whether or not Mayor
Mandel will run for a 3rd consecutive term, and he has indicated he will make a decision by December 2009. Now in
their 2nd year, 1st term Councillors are leveraging greater influence in chambers, and are having a greater impact on
the strategic direction of the City.
In spring 2009, the City released The Way Ahead, its first ten-year strategic plan. The ten-year objectives focus on
preserving and sustaining the environment, improving livability, transforming the urban core, shifting transportation
mode, ensuring financial stability, and diversifying the economy. The plan’s objectives are further divided into 3-
year goals that will determine planning priorities and frame business plans for city departments.
Within the plan, the city envisions itself as a portal to the north through Port Alberta, both as an industrial centre as
well as the knowledge and innovation centre for the north. The new strategic plan envisions Edmonton as a hub of
value-added green technologies and products, and as a place that attracts entrepreneurs. The plan places emphasis on
the environment and sustainability, and as such may demonstrate growing influence of some of the new Councilors.
The Mayor’s annual State of the City Address mirrored themes outlined in the strategic plan:
LRT expansion continues to be a priority. The city will be reconfiguring development plans in ways that
discourage automobile transportation.
In an effort to further diversify the economy, the Mayor stated that Edmonton “needs to identify and focus on
existing strengths, whether in eco-industrial development or nano-technology or health care or agrifood.”
The Mayor views post-secondary institutions as innovation hubs that will be critical for realizing sustainable
In addition, the Mayor sees Edmonton being a leader in North American healthcare.
The likelihood of implementing the City’s ambitious new sustainability plans rests with the provincial and federal
governments, as they would be required to contribute significant funding. The federal government has announced $5B
of funding for infrastructure, for which municipalities are able to bid. Also included is an additional $1B over five
years for green infrastructure for things like public transportation. This will assist the City of Edmonton, but will not
likely be sufficient to meet the expectations put forth in the new strategic plan. It is important to note, however, that in
its Strategic Plan Edmonton does put a priority on diversifying the city’s own revenue sources to generate more
income on its own, something that is becoming a greater focus of municipalities nationwide.
The Mayors of the 23 municipalities within the Capital Region were mandated by the Province to draft a Capital
Region Plan to address competing interests in the high-growth region. A plan has since been drafted, and
conditionally approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, which addresses public transit, affordable housing,
geographic information and land-use issues. This plan proposes a capital region that is more compact and less reliant
on individual transit. Major planning decisions will be required to go through the Capital Region Board, which gives
preferred weight – but not veto power – to Edmonton. No participating municipality will be permitted to pursue
development proposals that conflict with the Capital Region plan. A final plan is scheduled to be submitted to the
Minister by December 31, 2009.
The Government of Alberta has another mechanism by which to impact urban development, being the Land-use
Framework (LUF), released in 2008. LUF guidelines will impact the development of regional plans so as to:
integrate provincial policies at the regional level;
set out regional land-use objectives;
provide direction and context for land-use decision-making in the region; and
reflect the uniqueness of the landscape and priorities of each region within a planning context
Increased density development is likely to be the result of all these new planning mechanisms, as the regions
reconcile competing interests, such as industrial development and residential planning, with cumulative regional
Section B: Implications for the University of Alberta
While operating grants for universities received a 6 per cent increase, the Ministry has signaled an end to such
increases, and in fact has stated 0% increases for the next two years. Overall the Department of Advanced Education
and Technology budget received a decrease of 9.7 per cent. Most of the cuts came from institutional infrastructure and
technology commercialization, however three-year forecasts for the budget indicate that future spending on economic
diversification1 and lifelong learning2 will decrease as a proportion of the overall provincial budget. Provincial
forecasts show that funding for post secondary and research and innovation will peak in 2009-2010, and will decrease
in the following two years. The greatest increases in spending will take place in the area of health and wellness, where
the share of Provincial spending will increase from 35 per cent in 2008-2009 to 39 per cent in 2011-2012.
The Government is committed to decreasing the gap between non-royalty revenues and expenses, and over the next
three years, according to Budget 2009 forecasts, it will reduce departmental budgets across the Government except in
Health and Wellness, Municipal Affairs, and in Aboriginal Relations. In the short term, it appears as though the next
generation economy will rely on oil sands as the economic driver, while the Government will encourage very specific,
value-added offshoots of the non-renewable energy industry. That is not to say that support for sectors such as
nanotechnology and life sciences will be eliminated, but rather they may not be promoted as ends in themselves.
These sectors will likely be utilized as means to maximize the Province’s benefits stemming from its natural resource
deposits. This could have negative effects on innovation, but may be one of the simplest methods of ensuring
sustainable research funding.
Over the last couple of years the Minister of Advanced Education and Technology has focused on developing the
Roles and Mandates Framework and the growth of Campus Alberta. This has included identifying 6 categories of
institutions, reviewing the funding formula and renewing the vision related to research, development and innovation.
As a research-intensive institution, the University of Alberta will be particularly affected by the Research and
Innovation Act, which provides a Roles and Mandates Framework for the province’s research and innovation sector.
While the Government has assured the public that the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Endowment
Fund will not be cut, there have been no such commitments to the other three remaining research granting
corporations, which have yet to be fully established. There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the new
Incorporates research and innovation, technology commercialization, and human capital programs.
Incorporates operating funds for universities.
research granting corporations and no guarantee about gross funding amounts has yet been confirmed. There may yet
be opportunity to influence the Government’s position, but unless there are changes in commodity prices, it is
unlikely to expect a major newfound commitment in dollar amounts to research and technology.3 It will be critical for
the University of Alberta to be a strong partner to the Government as it finalizes committee membership and funding
for the four research corporations established under the Research and Innovation Act.
Within Cabinet’s order of precedence, following the departure of the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Advanced
Education and Technology is ranked 2nd, behind only Treasury Board. The Minister of Advanced Education and
Technology is a member of the Treasury Board, as well as the Agenda and Priorities Committee. A total of 7
ministries, including the Ministry of Finance and Enterprise, have been mandated to work with Advanced Education
and Technology to implement the Government’s priority goal to enhance value-added activity, increase innovation,
and build a skilled workforce to improve the long-run sustainability of Alberta’s economy. In addition, AET has also
been mandated to work with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to further develop the new Alberta Health Research
The Minister of Advanced Education and Technology’s influential position in Cabinet and on key committees will
not insulate the portfolio from difficult decisions that Cabinet will likely have to make over the next several years.
The post-secondary sector will need to better communicate its relevance and contributions to both short- and long-
term economic prosperity in the province. Given that the Province is relying heavily on the energy industry for much
of its prosperity, there is opportunity for the University to communicate its value to industry in order to build third-
party advocacy with Government as well as to access alternative financing as operating grants either freeze and/or
decrease. Building rural caucus support will also be critical as tensions internal to the Party may affect funding
The current economic circumstances may now give the Government the justification to make operating cuts that will
facilitate bringing expenditures in line with revenues. The 2009-2010 budget did not make any significant cuts, but
the clear signal to essential services like health care and education was that Government expenditures would not be
increasing in the same way they have in previous years. The budget reflects these realities in its three-year forecasts.
The increase in the deficit to $50B has added to the pressure on the Federal Government to be strategic about its post-
recession economic planning and its ability to avoid a long-term structural deficit. There is an expectation that
government will invest in initiatives that will build up the economy’s long-term competitiveness and productivity.
Support remains and continues to grow for the role of the research intensive university in contributing to long-term
competitiveness and productivity. This bodes well for the University of Alberta as the University has particular
strengths in key areas of priority as identified by the federal government in its Science and Technology Strategy
including: energy and natural resource development, the environment, ICT, and health and medicine. The University
is also home to the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
The federal government’s post-secondary related investments have received mixed reactions from the post-secondary
community. While the $2B investment into post-secondary infrastructure is unprecedented, particular objections have
been raised around the lack of funding to tri-councils as well as to Genome Canada, with concerns about a potential
“brain drain” to the US cited. Government has struggled to communicate effectively its strategy and vision regarding
research, science, technology and innovation as well as the significant infrastructure funding provided to the research
community. This has lead to growing tensions between the research sector and the Government perceived as not only
underfunding research and development, but also being interventionist in its funding decisions. The University of
Alberta continues to build outstanding relationships with elected and unelected officials and has facilitated key
meetings among the G-13 research-intensive universities and the federal government. The University will continue to
play a key leadership role in the months ahead.
Notwithstanding the Province’s historic commitment to Carbon Capture & Storage, which will be conducted largely
by the private sector.
With President Barack Obama pledging more than 3 per cent of the U.S. GDP towards research and development
“through policies that invest in basic and applied science, [the creation of] new incentives for private innovation, [the
promotion of] breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and [improved] education in science and math,” Canada faces
increased pressure from external sources to increase its science and technology funding. This pressure is being
exerted not only by the US, but also by emerging economies such as China and India, who are investing heavily and
strategically in their higher education and research sectors during the economic downturn in order to better position
their economies for the recovery. Canada must take definitive action to avoid losing out on international recruitment
opportunities, as well as losing its home-grown talent, and must take advantage of the international economic
situation to solidify and build on its talent base. The University of Alberta is well poised to work with government to
help ensure a strong competitive talent base. Over the last couple of months both the Minister of Finance and the
Minister of State (Science & Technology) have been quietly talking about increased investments into research and
development, perhaps as soon as the fall economic update.
Another item to note is that the International Monetary Fund’s report card on Canada’s budget, released May 22,
2009, recommends that Canada has the economic fortitude to inject another stimulus in the near future, if necessary.
As the Liberals continue to gain political credibility, not only is there a possibility of a Liberal minority government
within the next year, but the Conservative Government is demonstrating a willingness to compromise of issues of
importance to the Liberals. This, coupled with the Federal Government’s need to reinforce that it is being timely and
targeted in its stimulus spending, presents the University with the opportunity to build bi-partisan support for
additional post-secondary and research and development funding that will get people working now, and in the long-
Areas of strategic shared interest, such as LRT expansion, will continue to be important for the City and provide the
University the opportunity to demonstrate its importance to the greater community. The University’s vision for a
green South campus aligns naturally with the City’s ten-year strategic plan’s emphasis on Edmonton as both a green
City as well as a knowledge and innovation hub. It is important to note that the City’s Strategic Plan must align with
the Capital Region Plan, and any major capital projects that involve new or existing sites are likely to be subject to
scrutiny under the new regional plan.
The importance put on economic diversity and sustainability evident in the Strategic Plan, combined with economic
outreach activities of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, and international support from organizations
such as OECD regarding the long-term benefits of investing in research and innovation now, all indicate an
opportunity for the University to partner with local businesses in research-related activities. At the same time, it is
important to note the premium that Edmonton places on livability and the extent to which this aspect of the city is
seen to contribute to economic success. As a result the University might find opportunities to seek support from the
community and Council on projects that increase livability within the City.
Of note, in the Province’s three-year projected budget forecasts, among the only three priorities that received a
proportional boost in provincial expenditures is municipality funding for infrastructure. So long as the funding is not
all earmarked for rural municipalities, Edmonton could stand to gain.
In addition to the many successful Centenary-related partnerships, the City and the University worked very closely on
the Universiade bid together, and as the City moves forward on plans to have the major Expo 2017 site on South
Campus, the University is again working closely in partnership with the City. The City also opened the LRT station at
South Campus, and renamed its Bay Street stop to Enterprise Square, in recognition of the University’s new
Enterprise Square campus on Jasper Avenue. It will be important to continue to build on this momentum, and to
continue to strengthen relationships across City Council. The composition of Council itself, as well as its priorities,
may also substantially change in the 2010 elections, as the Mayor debates a third term and as the City is debating
moving to a 12-Ward system rather than its current 6-Wards.