BC Tech: Budget 2021

April 20, 2021

Yesterday’s Federal budget and today’s BC Provincial budget shared two common themes: investing in people – and investing a lot.

Appropriately, as we seek to recover from the biggest economic shock in a century, we need to support people and businesses at risk. We also need to invest in the future, not least because the borrowing to pay for these investments will be inherited by the young. 

Keeping our eyes firmly on the horizon remains an imperative. We cannot safely and optimally drive a car, let alone an economy, if we spend our time looking in the rear-view mirror. BC’s sustainable economic future has at its heart a keen understanding of global trends, including the climate imperative, the opportunities in technology and innovation, and the foundational importance of education and skills training.

Budget 2021 delivered plenty to support this vision. 

On the federal side an unprecedented investment in childcare that will support families and increase the resilience of women’s participation in the labour market. Transformative childcare investment is a great example of what can be achieved with provincial-federal collaboration that looks with fresh eyes at the foundations of a strong economy.

The standout federal announcement for BC Tech members was the establishment of a Regional Development Agency (RDA) for BC, carved-out from Western Economic Diversification. We advocated strongly for the creation of a BC RDA grounded in technology and the economic opportunities in BC and were thrilled to see it come to fruition. Significantly, the federal budget provides the BC RDA with full funding for its first year of operation (2021/2022) which bodes well for funding of shovel-ready projects like ScaleUP BC

There was much more in the federal budget – with over 700 pages and unprecedented levels of investment, notably for cleantech and the greening of the economy – the detailed implementation of which will only emerge over the coming weeks. 

Turning our attention to the provincial budget, the big announcement for BC’s tech sector was the allocation of $500M to support the launch of InBC, a new strategic fund to support promising BC companies to scale up, anchor themselves in BC and grow more good jobs here. This has huge potential to support the growth of BC’s tech startups with funding for the programs and supports necessary to scale. 

More information will be released in the coming months on the organization’s mandate and scope of activities as well as the appointment of the Board, CEO and CIO. In BC is expected to start deploying funds in Fall 2021, with $100M allocated to be spent before 31 March 2022. 

We were also pleased to see a $4M extension of the funding for rapid reskilling programs like those BC Tech has been delivering to help workers displaced by Covid learn retrain for a tech career. More information on BC Reskilling here

Finally, we were pleased to see a potential lifeline for our friends at Science World. Budget 2021 included an allocation of funds to support tourism recovery including support for ‘anchor attractions’.