COVID-19 showed that science is relevant and impactful at all levels, from individuals and businesses to municipalities, nations and the world. Science knows no boundaries; it has been, is, and will continue to be relied upon by decision-makers for continued management of the pandemic, for important discoveries and new knowledge, to re-start Canada’s economy, and to innovate and compete internationally. This is dependent on sustained support of a broad spectrum of research carried out in various environments (academic, industrial, research institutions, government laboratories, NFPs). Science innovations that enhance the economy and work to address issues such as those that have arisen as a result of COVID-19 happen when students and researchers from all disciplines and sectors (e.g., universities, government departments, data collection agencies, libraries) are supported with graduate scholarships, research funding, infrastructure support, institutional support, and career development opportunities – investments that show the government’s support for a prosperous science culture.
Recommendation #1: That the federal government address the outstanding recommendations from the 2017 Fundamental Science Review report. The Government of Canada has acted on some of the FSR Report’s recommendations; however, the government needs to address the critical 60% gap between the recommended increase to base funding for basic science and what has been implemented to date.
Recommendation #2: That the federal government increase its research and development (R&D) investments in Canada to re-start Canada’s economic recovery and find solutions to the many pressing and complex challenges facing Canada and society, including:
- a 1% increase in Canada’s gross domestic expenditure in R&D which, at 1.56%, is at its lowest since 2001 (OECD average is 2.4%)
- increased funding to the base budgets of each of CIHR, SSHRC, and NSERC for fundamental basic and applied research by at least 10% yearly, until commensurate with other G7 countries
- increased support for diversity in research particularly as relates to gender equity, visible minorities, researchers with disabilities, and Indigenous researchers
Recommendation #3: That the federal government provide better coordination and oversight for science and research in Canada so that Canada is effectively positioned to address the next major issue impacting Canada that requires scientific input and analysis by:
- establishing the National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation
- ensuring that the Chief Science Adviser is established as a permanent position within the Canadian government
Recommendation #4: That the federal government increase its support for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, early career scientists and international students by:
- increasing funding for graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships by $185 million in 2022 to increase both value and number awarded, with an additional $55 million per year phased in over the following three years
- extending the temporary funding packages introduced to assist students impacted by COVID
- restoring funding of the Canada Research Chairs program to 2012 levels with an investment of $140 million over the next two years ($35 million in fiscal 2022/23; $115 million in fiscal 2023/24), asymmetrically allocating new chairs to Tier 2 awards to help early career researchers
Recommendation #5: That the federal government increase its support for facilities and administrative costs of research by:
- increasing the Research Support Fund from 21% to 40%
- increasing funding to meet the small-medium equipment needs of individual researchers
- ensuring the viability of research labs and institutional settings in which research is conducted
The Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR) is pleased to provide this 2022 pre-budget consultation submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.