Updated: May 2
Yesterday, the Government of Canada released its 2023 budget. The 270-page document will serve as the economic roadmap for the government in the year ahead and it contains many measures that will—if rolled out effectively—support nationwide decarbonization while carving out a critical role for the Canadian nuclear sector in meeting our climate targets.
But, 270 pages is a lot of reading, particularly when it’s full of program outlines, forecasts and political updates. So, for the past couple of years, we’ve conducted a fun exercise every budget season to provide a quick snapshot of how often the federal government’s fiscal plan mentions some important keywords.
For a quick refresher, you can go back to our Budget by the Numbers for 2021 and for 2022. For our inaugural post back in 2021, we also examined budgets 2011 and 2019 (for comparison across two different governments). Our analysis today will include those figures as well.
With respect to the keywords that we’re looking for, we’ve run our searches of the following terms:
Carbon (including decarbonize/decarbonization)
Nuclear / Small Modular Reactor (SMR)
Here’s how the numbers stack up this year as compared to previous years:
"carbon" (including "decarbonize" / "decarbonization")
"nuclear" / "small modular reactor"
Some takeaways and quick reminders after having sifted through all these keyword mentions:
Page count is important: Budget 2021 is a bit of an anomaly. It was more than 700 pages long (more than double the number of pages of budgets 2022 and 2023). Therefore, we must be mindful not to read too much into the results from that year as we interpret this information.
Holding steady: Having established net zero by 2050 and net zero electricity grids by 2035 in previous years, this government is holding the line on these commitments. Focus now shifts to implementation of programming to get there.
Quality over quantity: Budget 2023 may have mentioned nuclear about the same number of times as in 2022 but this year was different.
The mentions were less signal and much more substance. Measures such as:
an Investment Tax Credit for Clean Electricity
an Investment Tax Credit for Clean Tech Manufacturing, and
billions of dollars in new funding for clean energy projects.
All of which include both small and large-scale nuclear in their eligibility, signaling that the government recognizes the critical role that Canadian nuclear must play to meet our climate targets and build a clean economy that works.
As always, positive measures announced in the budget are a positive first step. Next comes the hard part: implementation. We’ll be watching as these commitments are rolled out and doing our part to ensure that we can turn the words in budget 2023 into action.
Chad Richards is the Director of the Bruce Power Centre for New Nuclear & Net Zero Partnerships.