The Harper Government released its 2011 budget today which all three opposition parties said they would not support in its current form leading to speculation the government will fall and trigger an election for either May 2nd or May 9th. However one key item in the budget, should it go forward, is a comprehensive review of aerospace policy and programs.
This appears to be a significant change in attitude by the government. A Long Term Space Plan developed by the Canadian Space Agency after consultations with other government departments, academia and industry, has been shelved for several years now waiting for approval. As well, a Department of Defence newly created space policy which was to be released in January also had not been approved. And recently industry has been complaining that there was not enough funding for research and development.
Now, it appears the government is willing to listen and at least do a comprehensive review of the whole aerospace sector including the space sector and Department of Defence space initiatives. In so doing the government says it aims to develop a new federal policy framework to support these sectors and benefit Canadians.
The review process is expected to take 12-18 months and the government has said it will provide stable funding for its Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI) during the review. SADI is an initiative that supports Canada's aerospace, defence, space and security industries by providing repayable contributions.
The news of a comprehensive review should come as welcome news to the space sector which has been feeling for some time it was neglected.