by Joshua Pagé
Under a Sask. Party government, the Petroleum Research Centre, located at the University of Regina, would see an increase in funding.
According to page 20 of the Sask. Party’s platform, an additional $4 million in baseline funding over four years for the PTRC, and the International Test Centre for Carbon Dioxide Capture at the U of R, would be given out if the Sask. Party forms government.
“They’re just doing great work, and they are one of the leading research institutes in the country,” said James Saunders, a policy researcher for the Sask. Party. “And given the importance of oil and gas to Saskatchewan’s economy, they are going to continue, on a project basis, playing an even more important role.
According to the PTRC, baseline funding is essentially for operational costs, like staffing and other administration costs.
The Department of Industry and Resources says, the current NDP government gave the PTRC $1.5 million in the 2007-2008 budget.
Furthermore, the government also gave $400 thousand to Phase 2 of the Weyburn Project, and $610 thousand to the JIVE Project. The C02 Capture centre also received $150 thousand.
The Weyburn project studies storing and injecting potentially harmful carbon dioxide in the ground, instead of exposing it to the atmosphere. The JIVE project looks at enhancing oil extraction from large reservoirs. That is, getting the most oil out of the ground with the least possible waste.
The NDP was unable to comment on the Sask Party’s promised additional funding, and they have no added funding guarantee in their platform.
The PTRC did not comment on how added funding would affect them if a Sask. Party government is elected.
Another key part of the Sask. Party’s plan for research included creating Innovation Saskatchewan as a part of Enterprise Saskatchewan, a concept the NDP is highly critical of.
“I asked Mr. Wall tonight to please name those friends of his he is going to place on the board of Enterprise Saskatchewan, this group he is going to put in charge of our economy; he did not answer that,” said Lorne Calvert, after the October 29th leaders’ debate.
According to the Sask. Party, Enterprise Saskatchewan would be Saskatchewan’s central economic development agency.
“The Enterprise Saskatchewan plan, in terms of de-politicizing the economic development, really stands the province in good stead,” said Sask. Party leader Brad Wall, after the Oct. 29 leaders’ debate.
The Sask. Party says the members of Enterprise Saskatchewan would include members of First Nations, trade unions, business, government, municipalities and post-secondary institutions.
As for Innovation Saskatchewan, it would move to prioritize research and development in the province.
“It’s a consolidation of the research, development and some of the commercialization of innovation money across government,” said Saunders. “It’s just to start to target and prioritize spending in a number of those innovation areas that we’ve identified.”
Those areas include biotechnology, mining and energy, and environmental technology.
Therefore, while the concept of Innovation Saskatchewan takes up a small portion of the Sask. Party’s platform, a Sask. Party win on Nov. 7th could mean more money for petroleum, carbon, and other research at the U of R.