Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new research program from the National Research Council that will develop and commercialize cold-climate technology during the kick-off of his ninth annual northern tour in Whitehorse, Yukon.

The National Research Council Arctic Program will support research in resource development, northern transportation and shipping, marine safety technologies, and community infrastructure.

Harper made the announcement at Yukon College. 

"This new program will focus on transforming those unique Canadian challenges into Canadian opportunities," he said. 

The program will cost $17 million over eight years, and will be seeking $65 million in investments from industry partners. 

Topics the research will include: 

  • How to increase the safety of resource development in ice-covered waters by reducing the uncertainty in ice loads, and increasing the reliability of ice management, as well as enabling the effective detection and remediation of oil under ice.
  • Developing and implementing technologies that will reduce the number of incidents and vessel structural damage.
  • Increasing the number of days of operational use of ice roads.
  • Increasing the rates of survival in lifeboats.
  • Increasing the performance of immersion suits in a cold and harsh ocean environment.
  • Reducing catastrophic failures in urban infrastructure, and increasing energy efficiency and durability of northern housing, thereby decreasing the cost of maintenance and repairs.

Harper will tour the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut from Aug. 21 to 26. Next on the the prime minister's itinerary is a visit to Fort Smith, N.W.T. for an announcement on developing agriculture in the North, before heading to Nunavut, where he'll visit Cambridge Bay, Pond Inlet, Iqaluit and York Sound. 

With files from The Canadian Press