Canada’s Fundamental Science Review: Investing in Canada’s Future – strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research
We have a great opportunity in front of us. The federal government has commissioned the production of an exceptional document, the Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science, also known as the Naylor report, which gives a very clear assessment of the funding situation in this country. The Advisory Panel of the review, a blue-ribbon group of outstanding reputation, composed of highly respected scientists (including a Nobel laureate), top administrators and industry representatives, has formulated thoughtful recommendations. It is now time to Support the Report, and implement its recommendations.
Talking points – From the report
- Is among the highest-yield investments in Canada’s future that our government can make
- Has an essential role in underpinning innovation and educating innovators
- Needs to inform evidence-based policy making
- Depends on four pillar agencies that support the Canadian Research Ecosystem: three granting agencies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the federal infrastructure agency, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
- Canadian gross domestic expenditure on Research and Development relative to gross domestic product (GDP) has been declining slowly over the last 15 years
- In constant dollars, granting council funding per researcher has been in steady decline since 2008-2009
- From 2006-2007 to 2013-2014, the Science review panel estimates that scholars, scientists and trainees wishing to pursue fully independent research work saw a decline of available real resources per researcher of about 35 per cent.
- The Panel’s overall conclusion is that independent science and scholarly inquiry have been underfunded for much of the last decade, as the federal government has concentrated resources on innovation-facing and priority-driven programs.
- According to the OECD, Canada is now second to last in terms of investment in R & D (as percent of GDP), and the only G7 country in which this percentage is decreasing.
Main recommendations of the report:
- “The panel’s single most important recommendation (R6.1) is that the federal government should rapidly increase its investment in independent investigator-led research to redress the imbalance caused by differential investments favouring priority-driven targeted research over the last decade”
- The highest priority for reinvestment should go to investigator-led research operating grants
- The creation of a new National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation (NACRI), to provide broad oversight of the federal research and innovation ecosystems. The Chief Scientific Advisor for Canada should serve as Vice-Chair of the NACRI
Implementing the report would result in strategic clarity that will lead to
- Implementation of best practices to support researchers at all stages of their careers
- Coordinated policies to achieve better equity and diversity outcomes in the allocation of research funding while sustaining excellence as the key decision-making criterion.
- More stable and reliable funding for infrastructure, including digital research infrastructure.
- Better support for Doctoral Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows
- Better allocation of Research Chairs for excellent scholars and scientists
- More reliable support for facilities and operations
Why all Canadians should Support the Report
- Innovations and cures for disease, benefiting our entire society always start with fundamental research.
- Fundamental research in Canada drives the discoveries that fuel an innovative economy.
- Reinvestment in fundamental science today is critical to maintain Canada’s hard-won reputation as a nation of scientific excellence, developed over its 150-year history.
- Science goes hand in hand with training of the highly qualified personnel that contribute to Canada’s innovation economy. It is an investment in the next generation of leaders required so that Canada can lead the world in the new knowledge-based economy.
- Research is how we understand the natural world and society, what problems we face, and develop the knowledge and tools to address them.
- Reinvigorating fundamental science would require investing a very small percentage of our GDP in the future of a highly educated workforce and fuel a discovery pipeline which is the bedrock of an innovative society.
Download this document: Support the report talking points