More on where your tax dollars go

More on where your tax dollars go
(Photo : National Research Council of Canada)

Dian Cohen

Local Journalism Initiative

In 2001, the federal government created Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a foundation specifically to invest in “technologies that will create economic and environmental prosperity for all Canadians.” According to the SDTC website, it “is the single-biggest investor in Canadian sustainability entrepreneurs.” Again, reading from the website, and the 2022-2023 Annual Report, 316 Canadian companies, of which 229 are still active, have been funded to the tune of $1.7 billion taxpayer dollars. (In the interests of transparency, they’re all listed on the website.)

Looks like a reasonable use of taxpayers’ dollars – a 72+ per cent success rate in environmentally and economically attuned companies in every province and every economic sector. The SDTC website says,” Every dollar SDTC has invested since 2001 has resulted in more than seven dollars in follow-on financing from the public and private sectors.”

So it is somewhat surprising to see in tiny print at the bottom of the website the following:

On June 4, 2024 the Government of Canada announced that SDTC will be transitioning to the National Research Council of Canada. The transition process is expected to take several months. In the interim, SDTC will be resuming full business operations. Please check back here for updates.

What prompted this is the Auditor General’s most recent report. According to Report #6, “Overall, we found significant lapses in STDC’s governance and stewardship of public funds… the foundation awarded funding to projects that were ineligible, conflicts of interest existed in some instances, and certain requirements in the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology Act were not met.”

The Report goes on to say that 10 projects were awarded $59 million even though they did not meet key requirements…  we found 90 cases … representing nearly $76 million awarded to projects where the foundation’s conflict-of-interest policies were not followed.”

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