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Budget by the numbers: Canada's 2024 federal budget

Yesterday, the Government of Canada released its 2024 Budget. Political staffers, government relations professionals and journalists emerged from budget lockups around 4:00 pm with plenty of analysis and hot takes about the measures contained in this year’s plan.



While NII headquarters may be a seven-hour drive from Parliament Hillfar from the lock-up events and debates on the floor of the House of Commonswe still wanted to add our initial take on Budget 2024.


For the past few 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. While we recognize that quantity does not always equal quality, the number of mentions can be a clear signal about the general interest and direction from the government in certain policy areasparticularly when tracked over time, as we’ve been doing.


For a quick refresher you can go back to our Budget by the Numbers posts for Budget 2021, Budget 2022 and Budget 2023. 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:

  1. Climate change

  2. Net zero

  3. Carbon (including decarbonize/decarbonization)

  4. Hydrogen

  5. Nuclear / Small Modular Reactor (SMR)


This year, we also added the page count for each of these budget documents as the length of the document will impact the number of mentions. Here’s how the numbers stack up this year as compared to previous years:

Term

2011

2019

2021

2022

2023

2024

Page count

374

465

726

304

388

430

"climate change"

12

41

114

44

31

62

"net zero"

0

0

20

41

29

41

"carbon" (including "decarbonize" / "decarbonization")

0

33

85

54

36

75

"hydrogen"

0

4

40

5

35

6

"nuclear" / "small modular reactor"

0

0

0

13

11

46

Now, to do some quick analysis of the key themes we can draw from the mentions noted above and following a cursory review of the budget document.


Interestingly, last year, our three key themes were: Page count is important, Holding steady, Quality over quantity. Essentially, Budget 2023 (as noted in the mentions in the chart above) maintained a general trend of somewhat limited mentions of nuclear with a continued focus on terms like "climate change" and "net zero." That said, the mentions of nuclear in Budget 2023 came with some significant qualityparticularly when it came to the eligibility of large nuclear for critical measures like investment tax credits.

In 2024, nuclear is getting both quality AND quantity. A significant jump to 46 mentions in in 2024 from only 11 in 2023 is indicative of this government’s recognition that they believe in Canada’s nuclear sector.

In fact, they say as much on page 194 of Budget 2024 when the document states: “Non-emitting, nuclear energy is one of the key tools in helping the world reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”


These messages are backed up by significant policy measures. Some of the key measures contained in this budget for the nuclear sector include:


Reiteration of previous measures to support nuclear, including:

  • $3 billion in export financing to Romania to support the construction of new CANDU reactors

  • $50 million to support pre-development work at Bruce Power for new nuclear

  • Funding through the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support SMR deployment

  • Inclusion of nuclear investments in Canada’s Green Bond Framework

  • Continued support for the Canada-U.S. Energy Transformation Task Force


Three-year target for nuclear project reviews: Budget 2024 sets out a series of measure to help clarify and reduce timelines for major projects including a measure to set a three-year target for review of nuclear projects. The measure will see the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Impact Assessment Agency of Canada work together to better streamline duplicative process.


Investment Tax Credits: Budget 2024 outlines that the Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit will be available as of Budget 2024, for projects that did not begin construction before March 28, 2023, while other investment tax credits will be implemented/available later in 2024.

 

Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program: Budget 2024 commits up to $5 billion in loan guarantees to unlock access to capital for Indigenous communities, creating economic opportunities and supporting economic development priorities. The program will be designed to be sector-agnostic for natural resource and energy projects. The program will be administered by Natural Resource Canada and the Canada Development Investment Corporation.

 

Direct funding for CNL and AECL: $3.1 billion over 11 years (beginning in 2025-26) to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to support research at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).


As always, positive measures announced in the budget are great first steps. Next comes the hard part: implementation. For example, measures like investment tax credits in the 2023 budget have seen significant delays, with many still not yet in place.


We’ll be watching as these commitments are rolled outand doing our part to ensure that we can turn the words in Budget 2024 into action.

 

 

Chad Richards is the Director of Policy & Partnerships.




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