1. The Granting Councils are the best mechanism to fund basic (curiosity-driven) research in Canada. While funding for the Councils’ targeted programs has increased significantly in recent years, the consensus among our community and our partners in every sector is that increased support for basic research is also essential to a healthy national innovation capacity. Recognizing this, Budget 2010 did increase the Councils’ funding for basic research — a small but much appreciated increase. Much more remains to be done, however, particularly given that the cuts to the Councils mandated in 2009 will reduce their budgets by $87M p.a. in 2011-12 and beyond. CCR therefore recommends:
That the federal government augment the basic (curiosity-driven) research portion of the Granting Councils’ budgets by 5%.
2. A key role of basic research is to educate, inspire, and unleash the creativity of the next generation of highly qualified people. Relative to our population, however, Canada produces 35% fewer graduates at the crucial doctoral level than the OECD average or the U.S.10 This has been recognized by the federal government with the creation of, for example, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships. CCR therefore recommends:
That additional graduate level scholarship programs be developed and sustained over the long term to support emerging researchers, as current stimulus programs expire.
3. Adding at least 40% to the direct costs of conducting research in Canada, indirect costs29 are reimbursed by the federal Indirect Costs Program at only about 25%.30 The shortfall is borne by the research institutions, forcing them to forego other investments that would improve the quality of teaching and research. The U.S., U.K. and the EU recognize the impact of such a burden and reimburse 40-60% of the direct costs of research. Maintaining world-class research infrastructures and facilities in Canada requires increased support to cover these costs. However, CCR recognizes the current financial situation and therefore recommends:
That the funding for the indirect costs of university research rise over the course of the next 5 years to represent 40 percent of the direct costs funded by the granting councils.