Backgrounder

December 2, 2013

Government of Canada Response to Emerson Recommendations on Space

Canada's space sector is a sophisticated research and innovation leader. It is successfully turning its investment in knowledge and technology into a global advantage in several niche areas, including robotics and satellite communications.

On November 29, 2012, the Honourable David Emerson delivered a two-volume report to the Government of Canada following his Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies. The second volume of Mr. Emerson's report, Reaching Higher: Canada's Interests and Future in Space, highlighted the importance of space to modern economies and to national security. The report contained eight recommendations for using space activity to advance Canada's national interest and foster a competitive and innovative space industry.

In response to Mr. Emerson's report, the Government is taking concrete action.

Recommendation 1: The government explicitly recognize the importance of space technologies and capacity to national security, economic prosperity, and sustainable growth, and the Minister of Industry bring 10-year, 5-year, and annual government-wide priorities for the Canadian Space Program to Cabinet for discussion and approval each spring.

The Government will release Canada's Space Policy Framework in early 2014. It will outline the Government's strategic goals for its space activities, including jobs and growth, sovereignty, security, and the advancement of knowledge.

Recommendation 2: The government establish a Canadian Space Advisory Council, reporting to the Minister of Industry, with membership from industry, the research and academic communities, the provinces and territories, and federal departments and agencies.

The Government will establish the Space Advisory Board, which the President of the CSA, General (Retired) Walter Natynczyk, will lead on behalf of the Minister of Industry. The Minister will meet with the Board annually.

Recommendation 3: A deputy minister-level Space Program Management Board be created to coordinate federal space activities, project-specific arrangements be put in place to ensure disciplined project management, and all agencies and departments with a role in the Canadian Space Program be required to report on how they are implementing priorities set by Cabinet.

The Government will establish the Deputy Ministers Governance Committee on Space (DMGCS) to provide oversight for all major space activities undertaken by the Government of Canada and the CSA. This will improve the coordination of space activities across the federal government.

Recommendation 4: The Canadian Space Agency's core funding be stabilized, in real dollar terms, for a 10-year period; major space projects and initiatives be funded from multiple sources, both within and beyond the federal government; and increased international cooperation be pursued as a way of sharing the costs and rewards of major space projects and initiatives.

The CSA's total funding will remain unchanged and at current levels. The Government will also leverage existing programs to better support the space industry, including:

  • The Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, which provides aerospace, space and defence companies with repayable contributions for projects; and
  • Defence Research and Development Canada's Defence Industrial Research Program, a cost-sharing program that supports strategic research and development projects in Canada's defence and security industries to introduce new and innovative defence technologies.

As well, the Minister of Industry will ensure that the granting councils, the National Research Council of Canada and the CSA work together in support of space research priorities.

The Government is also considering how future major space projects could be funded from multiple sources, including contributions based on existing funding from federal departments and agencies as well as leveraging partnerships with the private sector.

Additionally, international cooperation will continue to be used as a way to share the costs, risks and benefits of space development and exploration. This includes partnerships with NASA and our cooperation agreement with the European Space Agency.

Recommendation 5: The scope of space projects, project timelines, and performance requirements be finalized as early as possible in the project definition phase.

As the planning for space missions takes years from mission conception to operation, several challenges relating to timelines, performance and costing can arise. The changes being implemented with respect to internal and external governance (i.e. the DMGCS and Space Advisory Board) will mitigate such risks through improved project oversight. Additionally, the CSA has already taken steps to enhance its project management process to ensure project scope is finalized earlier.

Recommendation 6: Space asset and service procurement processes be competitive in nature and proposals be assessed on the basis of their price, responsiveness to scoped requirements, and industrial and technological value for the Canadian space sector.

The approach to space procurements will align with the broader government review of defence procurement in response to Tom Jenkins' report to support economic opportunities for Canadians as announced in Budget 2013. Once this overall approach to procurement is in place, the Government will seek to ensure that space asset and service procurements are consistent with it.

Recommendation 7: Total funding for the Canadian Space Agency's technology development programs be raised by $10 million per year for each of the next three years and be maintained at that level.

The CSA will double its Space Technologies Development Program budget to reach $20 million annually by 2015–16. This will provide greater predictability in funding for industry and support industrial capacity building through the development of new products, services, processes as well as know-how.

Recommendation 8: Where costs are modest and there is no risk to public safety, the government create conditions conducive to the expansion of space-related commercial activity.

The Government of Canada is taking steps to provide opportunities for the space industry to grow through trade promotion, such as the Canada–European Union trade agreement, and workforce and skills development measures.