New Mandates, Fresh Approaches
Now that the dust has settled from the provincial election, I congratulate Premier Kenney on his election victory and congratulations also to the rest of the Class of 2019. I’m looking forward to working with them to move Alberta’s economy forward.
As the industry association representing more than 170 life sciences members in Alberta, we are keen to better understand the new Government’s objective to “make Alberta a magnet for investment in new technologies in artificial intelligence, health sciences, geothermal energy and information technology.” BioAlberta will work with Cabinet and Caucus to build an Alberta where innovation is embraced, investment is encouraged, and growth of small and medium enterprise is at the core of Alberta’s future economy. From my perspective, there are some early opportunities for government to consider.
Reducing Regulation: Reducing red tape is a key platform element. In health, introduction of new therapies is often delayed by duplication in pan-Canadian processes and price optimization at the provincial level. For many years there has been disagreement between government and industry on “Time to List” and who is responsible for delays in listing new drugs. It’s time for industry and government to work together to streamline the process and timeline to approve drugs so Albertans have improved access to the newest, most innovative therapies.
Engaging Industry: A key component of the “Alberta Advantage” is a government confident in its direction, willing to engage industry in meaningful discussions on how to meet its objectives. Alberta’s life sciences members are passionate about diversifying the Alberta economy, and working together on issues like addressing the gap in “scale-up” funding for Alberta start-ups as well as addressing the skills gap that exists between Alberta graduates and companies looking to recruit and retain talent to help their companies grow.
Improving Connectivity Between the Economic Departments and Social Policy Departments: Government renewal is an opportune time to change the way departments and agencies work together. There are a number of examples, such as value-based procurement, where the economic objectives of one department could be achieved while achieving the social objectives of another. Procurement doesn’t have to be a win-lose scenario. Once again, engaging industry on the objectives of government and being open to innovation or other definitions of value can be done in an open and transparent process, providing value to taxpayers and industry, as well as diversifying the economy.
Policy Leadership on the National Stage: We applaud the new Government’s efforts to stand up for Alberta on the energy and pipeline files, as they are foundations of our economy. However, Alberta should also become a leader in policy development at the federal level as well as among the provinces. Alberta should immediately advocate for Canada to adopt and implement the Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table recommendations to accelerate innovation, harness technology, and develop & attract talent. Alberta should also be a strong voice against the proposed PMPRB regulations and champion finding the balance between affordable drug coverage for citizens, timely access to new therapies, and fostering investment and innovation in the biotech and biopharma sectors.
Increasing Business Confidence: In order to attract investors and increase deal flow, governments should provide a stable policy and tax regime so the rules are clear. Instruments such as the Alberta Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit are important tools that should continue to provide support and cash flow to Alberta entrepreneurs across multiple sectors.
In the coming weeks we will better understand the mandates of specific Ministers via the Throne Speech, Budget and Business Plans. BioAlberta is committed to working to foster a vibrant life sciences industry. We look forward to being an active and trusted advisor to the new government as we build a thriving innovation ecosystem together.
President and CEO