An internal 2012 federal budget document the Conservative government would not release was released last Friday and posted by the CBC. It details cuts, or cost “saving measures” as the Conservatives called it, to Canada’s space program, that if left in place, could seriously hurt Canada’s space programs.
In particular, the document details the largest and ongoing cuts to the planned growth in the “Future Space Capacity Program”, one of the four program headers outlined in the Canadian Space Agencies Report on Plans and Priorities.
The Canadian Space Agency defines the Future Canadian Space Capacity as follows:
“This Program attracts, sustains and enhances the nation’s critical mass of Canadian space specialists, fosters Canadian space innovation and know-how, and preserves the nation’s space-related facilities capability. In doing so, it encourages private-public collaboration that requires a concerted approach to future space missions. This Program secures the nation’s strategic and ongoing presence in space in the future and to preserve Canada’s capability to deliver internationally renowned space assets for future generations. It is targeted at Canadian academia, industry and youth, as well as users of Canadian space solutions (Government of Canada (GoC) organizations) and international partners. This Program is conducted with the participation of funding agencies, GoC organizations along with government facilities and infrastructure, foreign space agencies, not-for-profit organizations and provincial governments. This collaborative effort is formalized under contracts, grants, contributions or national and international partnership agreements.”
Not only did the government eviscerate the education and outreach initiatives, it made the largest cuts to the Future Canadian Space Capacity program.
Details of the cuts to the Canadian Space Agency along with the expected savings each year, beginning in 2012-13 through 2018-19 and ongoing thereafter. Click for larger version. Source: CBC/SpaceRef Canada.
It should be noted that at the same time this document was created, the Aerospace Review, which produced the Emerson Report, was underway and that the government had already decided to cut the Future Canadian Space Capacity program.
So regardless of the outcome of the Aerospace Review and its recommendations, the Conservative government was already planning ongoing “cost savings’ that extended well beyond what was originally known.
The question is, with the first Liberal budget set to be released on March 22nd, will they reverse this downward budgetary trend in Canada’s space program?
While the current fiscal climate is not good, the government must ask itself, how can it secure the nation’s strategic and ongoing presence in space?
Certainly the previous Conservatives cuts to Canada’s space program won’t meet Canada’s strategic needs.