Canada’s research and innovation ecosystem has benefited from recent historic investments that ACCRU has warmly welcomed. In response to the Government of Canada’s invitation to share our priorities for the 2019 federal budget and in keeping with this year’s theme of Economic Growth: Ensuring Canada’s Competitiveness, we are pleased to offer the following recommendations, which if adopted, will have tremendous potential for the country’s competitiveness.
Support the next generation in acquiring the skills required by the knowledge economy by providing Canada’s granting councils with a budget to award or enhance Undergraduate Student Research Awards in all disciplines; and by providing MITACS with the necessary budget to open its Accelerate internships to applications from undergraduate students who are currently excluded from the program.
Why? In addition to contributing to Canada’s economic interests, these investments would help offset two current inequities: one towards undergraduate students in general (in the case of MITACS), and one towards undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and health sciences (in the case of the granting councils).
Stimulate innovation and growth across Canada by strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion by providing financial incentives and enhancing the federal government’s requirements for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the distribution of Canadian granting council’s award budgets to include, among the target groups, faculty and students and trainees working in small- and medium-sized institutions or located in regions or communities outside major Canadian urban centres.
Why? Doing so will contribute to harnessing all of Canada’s strengths for enhancing social and economic development across all regions of the country.
Strengthen university research environments by increasing the amounts allocated to the Research Support Fund to align with the Naylor Report.
Why? This investment will provide a high rate of return in skill development, international attractiveness, and engaged society.
The members of ACCRU congratulate Dr. Lyne Sauvageau on her appointment as President of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS). As Chair of ACCRU she has been a strong advocate for small- and medium-sized research universities. We wish her the best as she embarks on this new venture. The press release is available here.
NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Dr. Robert Luke, Vice-President, Research and Innovation at OCAD University and member of ACCRU.
The federal government’s Budget 2018 is an advance for the science, research and innovation communities. The overall approach to gender equity, diversity and decolonization is important and timely.
The government has clearly heard the call from the Fundamental Science Review to increase our investment in research. There is a strong focus on supporting interdisciplinary and international collaborative research, which is essential for not only uncovering new areas of knowledge but for realizing the value of ideas as they are translated into application, products, services and other innovation. This underscores the importance of design disciplines as crucial to Canada’s innovation carrying capacity.
And here’s the big news: “Budget 2018 proposes an investment of nearly $4 billion in Canada’s research system to support the work of researchers and to provide them access to the state-of-the-art tools and facilities they need” (p 82).
This is smart policy. Linking investments in science and technology ($3.2B investment in “research” writ large) to national priorities and, importantly, diversity and decolonization, is imperative for inclusive innovation. It is also in line with other leading OECD countries that set national priorities and focus on the spectrum of research – from idea to invoice – in order to realize the benefits of public investment in the production of public knowledge.
QUEBEC CITY, Quebec – The Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU) welcomes the historic investments that will contribute significantly to the deployment of Canadian fundamental research. These investments are consistent with the orientations of the Report of the Expert Panel on Fundamental Science Review.
The Review Panel collected over a thousand responses and sat at tables with hundreds of colleagues across disciplines, career stages and provinces to ask about their work. The passion, dedication, and frustrations expressed, and the fears that resources – both intellectual and material – were wasting under the current system, were universal and powerful. I am pleased that this government has taken strong steps towards filling the gaps identified throughout the report.
–Dr. Claudia Malacrida, Associate VP Research at the University of Lethbridge, member of the ACCRU and member of the Expert Panel on Fundamental Science Review.
Among the budgetary measures announced, ACCRU highlights in particular:
- Increased funding for SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR, which ends several years of declining funding for basic research.
- The recurrent nature of the CFI’s forthcoming funding, which responds to the demands of the academic community for a predictable competition schedule to facilitate planning for research development in Canadian universities.
- Additional investments in the Canada Research Chairs program that could contribute to the early career development of more than 250 promising young researchers.
- The introduction of new funding opportunities that recognize the importance of internationalization in science and high-risk research, the imperative of intersectoral research and the need to rapidly mobilize scientists in critical situations that require a rapid and science-driven response.
These basic science investments, as well as those announced to facilitate collaborations between business and universities, will stimulate a knowledge-based economy across Canada. Canada’s some hundred universities are home to excellent researchers who work in a wide variety of scientific niches and are closely linked to the social, environmental, economic, technological and cultural conditions of the regions and communities in which they are located. These universities also train a majority of highly qualified Canadian personnel who will benefit from an increase in the level of scientific activity carried out at their universities and the opportunities for collaboration that they open up, particularly with SMEs. It is these highly skilled people who will advance prosperity in diverse communities across Canada and address the global challenge of sustainable development.
ACCRU also welcomes the importance attached to equity, diversity and inclusion in the allocation of funding for scientific research announced in the budget. The Government has challenged SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR, and the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat – which will be at the forefront of today’s funding announcement – to extend these principles to the program guidelines and policies of their organizations in order to facilitate support for the diversification of scientific research communities across Canada. ACCRU has voiced concerns about the increasing concentration of federal research funding in the hands of fewer researchers and the limitations this creates for training students at diverse universities across Canada. Implementing new efforts to ensure diversity and inclusion in research represents a major step forward in harnessing all of Canada’s scientific talent – those who serve Canadian society.
ABOUT ACCRU – Founded in 2011, the Alliance of Canadian Universities of Integrated Research brings together small and medium-sized, multipurpose universities from all ten provinces. Together, our members represent close to half of Canada’s universities.
Lyne Sauvageau, Chair of ACCRU
Dr. Kevin Vessey is among the latest appointments to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada(NSERC), the nation’s focal point for discovery and innovation in natural sciences and engineering.
The appointment was announced recently by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
Dr. Vessey joins 18 distinguished Canadian’s on NSERC’s governing council. NSERC is a federal research agency that plays an important role in Canada’s research and scientific landscape. It invests over $1.2 billion a year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada
“It is an honour to have been appointed to NSERC,” said Dr. Vessey. “I look forward to working with President Mario Pinto and the other Council Members to help oversee the extremely important work of NSERC in its mandate to support research and innovation across Canada.”
Read the Government of Canada announcement here.
Dr. Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge Associate Vice-President (Research), joins 14 other diverse Canadians in being appointed to the governing council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s science minister, announced the appointments to SSHRC, the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports post-secondary research and research training in the humanities and social sciences, in Ottawa this week.
“I welcome the returning and newly appointed council members to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council,” says Duncan. “This impressive list of diverse candidates will help the council further its support for the social scientists and scholars who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge and helping us better understand the world around us.”
“I’m honoured and excited to take on this new responsibility,” says Malacrida, who has been appointed to a three-year term. “As a social scientist with a long career in the West, I’m pleased to be included and to bring the perspectives of my colleagues to the national level.”
SSHRC plays an important role in Canada’s research and scientific landscape and is committed to fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in research. SSHRC invests more than $350 million every year, supporting more than 8,000 graduate students and nearly 14,000 researchers. The governing council meets regularly to set policy and program priorities and allocate budgets.
Malacrida, a professor of sociology, joined the U of L in 2002. Her work investigates questions of power and how difference is constructed, both historically and in the present. Her research interests include eugenics, relational challenges faced by disabled women, and issues of power and medicalization in childbirth practices.
“SSHRC funding is critical to sustaining research that responds directly to community needs and the improved quality of life of Canadians,” says Malacrida. “As someone who has been supported by SSHRC grants throughout my career, I appreciate how these funds support developing talent from undergraduate and graduate students right through to senior investigators working on global issues.”
Read the Government of Canada announcement here.