Budget blues

Finance minister Paul Martin’s recent budget is leaving a sweet and sour taste in the mouths of IT industry supporters.

Overall, the technology and sciences sector will share a total of $7.4 billion. But that sum is not enough for an industry considered critical to the country’s financial health, say those directly affected by the budget.

“This budget is not good for the new Canadian economy,” said Gaylen Duncan, president of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) in Ottawa. “We’re very disappointed. They (the government) need to modify their definition of The Strategic Infrastructure Foundation, it shouldn’t just include roads and bridges.”

Technology isn’t included under the government’s definition of infrastructure, and its inclusion does not appear imminent, Duncan added. The newly formed Foundation received $2 billion in funding for a range of physical infrastructure projects.

“We were hoping for more infrastructure investments to build platforms for future growth, as opposed to responding to a short-term need,” added Greg Lane, national executive for the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) in Ottawa.

Universities are considered the breeding ground for intellectual capital in any country. However, the Canadian government, unlike its U.S. counterpart, does not seem to put the same stock in retaining the educators of the educated, according to Tony Stansby, team leader for eMPOWR in Ottawa, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of faculty and students in the information sector.

Stansby said the budget has not addressed the need to retain faculty in Canada. “We’ve (already) lost a lot of professors. We’ve got a declining number of teachers in universities in an area of (IT) that is producing a very large percentage of the economic growth in the country,” he said.

Even those outside of eMPOWR were certain that its requests would be granted. “There was an understanding that there would be significantly more money available for chairs and funding for universities, not only to attract students, but also professors,” CIPS’ Lane said.