Budget 2018: ACCRU welcomes historical investments in fundamental research

February 28,2018

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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.

For information:
Lyne Sauvageau, Chair of ACCRU