As soon as the Ontario and Quebec provincial budgets were released, R&D Partners combed through their pages to find out what kind of financial support innovative companies from both provinces could expect from these highly anticipated government releases. In this month’s blog, we will share with you the announcements that most caught our eye.
This article will focus on some new investments that will likely have a direct impact on funding programs for innovative companies in Ontario and Quebec, and less so on measures for individual taxpayers or other industries. If you want to read more on general provincial budget highlights, we have linked other helpful articles at the end of this blog. Since it has yet to be tabled, we will also not be covering Canada’s Federal 2021-2022 budget, set to be released on April 19th.
On March 24th, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy presented Ontario’s 2021 provincial budget. The Ontario government projects a deficit of $33.1 billion by the end of the 2021-2021 financial year, with the hope of a return to a balanced budget in 2029 (CBC). Despite this, Ontarians will find that no corporate or personal tax increases were announced in this year’s budget.
Many measures to support the health sector, digitize access to government services and help families were announced, but we will focus on the key measures that will most benefit Ontario’s innovation sector.
There are few “funding programs” per se announced in the budget, but we can presume that some of the money attributed to various initiatives will be distributed as grants or other forms of government funding in the following months. Several other key investments are also likely to benefit Ontario’s innovative ecosystems and flagship industries in an indirect way.
$400 million to create the Invest Ontario Fund: Invest Ontario is a relatively new initiative with the mandate to encourage investments into Ontario’s advanced manufacturing, information technology and life sciences sectors. Invest Ontario is not a direct grant fund to which companies can apply for project funding but offers a repertory of Ontario government incentives and a panoply of consulting and investment attraction services and incentives. Later in the year, more details about how this $400 million investment will be used to support Ontario’s innovative companies will be announced.
$56.4 million to create the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN): This brand-new innovation network with continue and expand on the work achieved by its predecessor AVIN (Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network). The new organization aims to bring together two of the most important innovative industries in Ontario: automotive manufacturing and information technology. Again, specific challenges and funding programs were not disclosed in the budget, but more details should follow soon. If OVIN adopts a similar approach to its predecessor, we can reasonably expect innovation challenges and hiring programs to be delivered by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI). Companies developing electric or autonomous vehicles and connected mobility solutions will be the ones best positioned to benefit from this investment.
Doubled rates for the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit: This refundable Corporate Income Tax credit introduced in the 2020-2021 provincial budget is being temporarily doubled, going from 10% to 20%. The credit is available to Canadian-controlled private corporations that invest at least $50,000 into the renovation or purchase of commercial or industrial buildings in targeted regions of the province where employment rates have historically been below those of the rest of the province, with the goal of increasing employment and strategic investments.
A day after the release of Ontario’s provincial budget, it was Quebec’s finance minister Eric Girard’s turn to table his own. Like in Ontario, despite a large projected deficit of $12.3 billion and an anticipated slow return to a balanced budget for 2027-2028, no tax increases are planned (The Gazette). In Quebec, SMEs will in fact benefit from a tax reduction making their effective tax rate equal to that of Ontario SMEs: from a previous 4% to a 3.2% rate.
As far as a high-level budget highlights go, Quebec is relying heavily on infrastructure funding to kick-start its pandemic-stalled economy, and significant help is also planned for the tourism, culture, aerospace and IT sectors (Global News).
The Quebec budget offered a few more details than Ontario’s in terms of what portion of the major investments announced can be expected to affect government funding programs, but we will be waiting for many details until later this year.
$27 million for cybersecurity innovation: Prompt Quebec will use this investment to increase the funding allocated to the Quebec Cybersecurity Innovation Program. This program supports Quebec SMEs working on cybersecurity solutions, but also aims to attract foreign cybersecurity companies to settle in Quebec.
$6 million for accelerators and incubators: The government is allocating this amount to increase support available for existing accelerators throughout the province. The goal of this investment is to facilitate the rapid growth of innovative startups and to help Quebec technology accelerators and incubators take their place in global networks.
Doubled rate of the Investment and Innovation Tax Credit (C3i): The base rate of this tax credit first announced in the 2020-2021 budget will be doubled until December 31st, 2022, meaning the minimum tax credit rate will go from 10% to 20% and the maximum rate will increase to 40%. The credit is for businesses that acquire manufacturing and processing equipment, computer hardware and management software packages before January 1st, 2025. Its goal is to incentivize Quebec companies to adopt new technologies.
Simplification of the application process for the University Researcher Tax Credit: The Quebec Government is making this tax credit, which is very useful for innovative companies eligible for the Federal SR&ED credit, more accessible by removing requirements to obtain a pre-authorization from Revenu Quebec to access it. Eligible companies can now simply claim their research and development expenses subcontracted to a university or research center when filing their taxes. The tax credit rates vary from 14% to 30% depending on if the eligible company is an SME or a large corporation.
Read the official Ontario 2021 provincial budget here.
Read the official Quebec 2021 provincial budget here.
Highlights of the 2021-22 Quebec budget (The Gazette)