Rebuilding science capacity in Canada after a decade of destruction

Canada is emerging from a decade in which our government systematically dismantled the research capacity of our nation.

The Liberal government has touted their support for science and evidence-based policies. One of their first actions was to put together an expert panel to review how fundamental research is funded in Canada to take stock of the current ecosystem and see where improvements are needed.

The expert panel, headed by Dr. David Naylor, has released their report which shows that Canada is falling behind other countries when it comes to fundamental research and development. Government funding for research has steadily declined over the past 15 years and Canada is no longer in the top 30 countries for research spending (relative to GDP).

The report also lays out a comprehensive set of recommendations presenting a bold vision for the future of science in Canada. For the first time in decades, we have a positive and ambitious road-map for how to create a strong, thriving and accountable research sector in Canada. Some highlights of the recommendations include:

  • Create a new National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation to provide broad oversight of the federal research and innovation ecosystem along with increasing coordination and accountability of the funding councils.

  • Increase government investment by $485 million for investigator-led research to address the imbalance caused by governments favouring priority-driven targeted research over the past decade.

  • Consider hard equity targets and quotas to address the significant gender inequality at nearly all stages of the research pipeline.

  • Increase support for early career researchers and publicly report on the progress.

Implementing all of the recommendations in the Naylor report could establish Canada as an international leader in science. The $1.3 billion boost in research funding (0.4% of the annual federal budget) would support highly qualified staff and students, train the next generation of innovators, grow our economy and undoubtedly lead to discoveries that will make the daily lives of Canadians better.

So far, the government has not committed to implementing the recommendations in the report.

Those of us who know that science and knowledge generation play a crucial role in protecting our health, safety, environment and high standard of living need to speak up and tell the government that we support fundamental research.

We’re trying to 5000 researchers and science supporters to email the Finance Minister and their MP before the next federal budget calling on them to implement the Naylor report recommendations.

Please take one minute to add your voice for science now:

Sign the petition at rebuildingresearch.ca

Image via @JessMLu

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