News Release: The CCR comments on the 2004 federal budget

For immediate release
2004 March 23

(Ottawa) – The Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR) welcomes the recognition the Federal Government has given today to the role of post-secondary education and research as vital foundations to Canadian’s social and economic well-being and Canada’s place in the world.
“The Government has taken steps to advance research and education in Canada, and we anticipate further strides in meeting the urgent needs of keeping Canada’s universities strong and raising our research standing internationally. There’s much more work that needs to be done,” stated Paul Ledwell, Chair of the Consortium.
The Government has demonstrated its continued commitment to university-based research through 6.5% increases to the federal granting council budgets, plus a small additional increase for the historically underfunded Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council — increases which begin to meet the escalation of demand. These steps, together with the $20 million increase for the indirect costs of research, are all items advocated by the CCR. A $60 million increase for Genome Canada and increased funding of $5 million for the Industrial Research Assistance Program at NRC are also welcome news.
While these additional investments are important, they do not address the underlying crisis in post-secondary education – lack of core funding for universities and their consequent ability to provide high quality education and research for Canadian society. We look forward to the Federal Government addressing this issue in partnership with the provinces in the coming year, including a clearly defined transfer for post-secondary education.
Efforts in this budget to respond to the question of student access to post-secondary education do not begin to address the problem. Issues of affordability, institutional capacity and debt load require immediate attention if Canada is to advance in creativity and innovation. The budget’s modest increases in loan limits, grants and educational savings programs are not a substitute for increased core funding.
The CCR notes the allocation to Industry Canada of $50 million for the purpose of commercializing federally sponsored research at universities and $25 million for commercializing research performed in federal labs, and looks forward to working with the Government on the mechanisms for the distribution of these funds, including the peer review process which must guide it.
The Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR) was established in 1976. It consists of the 22 organizations listed below that represent researchers in all disciplines across Canada. While the majority of these researchers are based in universities, the constituent organizations have numerous members in government laboratories and in private sector research centres. With approximately 50,000 researchers and 400,000 students represented in these member groups, the CCR is the largest organization in Canada whose primary concerns are the funding of research in all sectors and support for post-secondary education.

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For more information:
Paul Ledwell, Chair
(613) 238-6112, ext. 307