Federal Election: Why spend money on space while people suffer on Earth?

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At SEDS-Canada, we hear one objection to space funding over and over again: why should we spend money on outer space when people are suffering on Earth?

While we want to reduce Earthly suffering, we also believe that money must be spent on space exploration and development. Here’s why:

1. The space program does not compete with social programs

The Canadian government spends well over 100 billion dollars on social programs every year, and Provincial governments compound that figure. In contrast, the core government investment in space is 300 million dollars a year, and that figure hasn’t changed since 1999. So space funding is about 1/1000th (0.1%) of social spending. SEDS-Canada advocates raising the budget of the Canadian Space Agency to account for inflation – this would only increase it by 100 million dollars. These sums are drops in the ocean of Canadian social spending.

So, if you want to protect or increase social programs, space is not your enemy. If we diverted all space funding to social programs tomorrow, it would make very little difference to those social programs, just as it would make no difference to our social programs if we tripled our space expenses. These two areas are simply unrelated; they cannot be compared, and they do not compete for funds.

2. Space exploration makes us richer

The idea that space funding takes away from social funding assumes that money spent on space is simply wasted, and will never make anyone’s life better. But space funding does not take money away from Canadians. In fact, it grows the economy and provides good jobs. When money is spent on space, the money doesn’t go to space. It comes right back to Canadians.

3. Space exploration makes us smarter

We’ve mentioned that space investment is good for students, both on this website and in the Ottawa Citizen. We’ve also explained that space investments provide critically important spinoff technologies, like GPS and MRI scanners. All of this contributes to our collective knowledge. But space exploration also educates us in a much more fundamental way: are we really more ignorant because we walked on the moon?

Investing in space does not detract from social spending. Space exploration and development are such small parts of the federal budget that their funding cannot be compared to social spending. Space programs are also, ultimately, another type of social program. Investments in space will compound our wealth, develop critical technologies, and feed our yearning to know.


Samuel Baltz, advocacy@seds.ca

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