According to Treasury Board of Canada Main Estimates for 2012-13 released yesterday the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is estimated to see its budget reduced from $424.6 million from 2011-12 to $363.2 million representing a 16.9% decrease in its budget. The CSA budget was already scheduled to be reduced to $371.1 million, a decrease of 14.4% according to the CSA Report on Plans and Priorities 2011-12 estimates released last year.
This would the suggest that the CSA budget was further reduced by 2.5% and this before the expected up to 10% budget cut expected on top of that. A further reduction of 5% to 10% could be devastating for an agency already seeing its budget slashed.
While the reduction in budget is based on planned spending from 2011-12 of $424.6 million, the CSA actually spent about $443 million.
According to the Treasury document, the current estimate includes:
An increase of $33.7 million provided for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission following the 2010 Federal Budget announcement;
A decrease of $55.8 million related to the forecasted cash flow requirements for various projects and initiatives including the economic stimulus initiatives announced in Budget 2009 for the Canadian Space Agency, Contributions to the Canada/ European Space Agency Cooperation Agreement and the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. In previous years, funds for some of these activities had been reprofiled to account for more significant cash flow requirements in those years, resulting in the current year over year decrease;
A decrease of $30.0 million bringing an end to the funding from Canada’s Economic Action Plan; and a decrease of $7.1 million to finance the activities transferred to Shared Services Canada
The primary reason for the budget decrease is the end of the $110 million stimulus funding the CSA received starting with the 2009 budget. While a decrease this year was expected, the estimates for its budget next year is much worse. According to the Report on Plans and Priorities 2011-12 estimates from last year the CSA budget next year was estimated to be $317.5 million.
A reduction in budget this year and next year of such magnitude would bring into question the future of Canadian projects such as the much needed Polar Communications and Weather Mission for Arctic communication, weather and security. It would also bring into question the governments commitment to technology innovation that the space sector built up the past 50 years since Canada became the third country into space with the Alouette 1 satellite.