Definition: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
- Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
- By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
- Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
List of Policy Changes and Cuts:
- Terminated the contract of Ontario’s Chief Scientist
- Reduced funding to STEM cell research institutes
- Reduced funding to Artificial Intelligence Institutes
- Reduced funding to Ontario Trillium Foundation
The focus of policy and funding changes listed under this Sustainable Development Goal relates to efforts to cultivate innovation, to invest in both the technology and science industries, and grow the digital economy.
One of the first announcements that relates to this SDG was terminating the contract of Ontario’s first Chief Scientist, appointed in 2017. The responsibilities of the position were to provide science-based advice on matters ranging from climate change and agriculture to the potential effects of technologies such as artificial intelligence. Recognizing that it was a new position, the benefit of having evidence-based decision making to help design policies was a breakthrough for the growth of science and innovation in this province. Essentially eliminating the position, since a replacement has not been named, is a step backwards in the growth of our industries.
There were also reductions in funding for various institutes that specialize in science, as well as technology and innovation. Stem cell research institutes, which utilize stem cell discoveries to develop treatments that are both medically and commercially viable, have experienced cuts to their budgets. The provincial government has also reduced funding to the Ontario Centres of Excellence, which helps innovative companies secure funding through various entry programs. In terms of Artificial Intelligence institutes, both the Vector Institute and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) had funding significantly reduced. The Vector Institute focuses on machine and deep learning, and the funding reduction was to a program that helped accelerate growth in professional applied masters’ graduates in Artificial Intelligence (AI). CIFAR has been leading work on exploring the economic, legal, ethical and social perspectives on AI. The funding reductions also applied to the MaRS Discovery District, a large innovation hub that runs programs for startups, and houses research labs for various sectors. The Ontario Trillium Foundation, a provincial government agency that provides funding to not-for-profit organizations and charities in Ontario to help launch projects and cover costs for major renovations and upgrades, had 13 per cent of its overall budget reduced.
It can be speculated that the reduction of funds, leading to fewer jobs, may impact those who are underrepresented in the innovation sector, such as women and racialized people.[i] These populations often experience disparities in employment, and the narrowing of opportunities will only perpetuate these inequalities further and affect health outcomes. The decrease in investment in innovation, science and technology is ill-advised during a time where allocating more funding to these sectors may help produce solutions to address inequity, sustainability and resilience in Ontario.
[i] Women in Communications and Technology. (2017). Where are the women in the Canadian ICT industry? Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.wct-fct.com/sites/default/files/utn_where_are_the_women_final_may_30_2017.pdf.