Faced with a challenging fiscal environment, today’s federal budget sends a clear signal to Canada’s research universities. While other jurisdictions have dramatically reduced investments in government-supported R&D, the federal government’s continued support positions Canada to become a global leader in research and innovation.
Today’s budget includes a decision to maintain funding to the federal granting councils, which sponsor basic and applied research in the sciences, social sciences and humanities; plans for a significant renewal of multi-year funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which supports critical research infrastructure; funding for a new Genome Canada competition; and, funding for CANARIE which operates the fibre optic network linking researchers and innovators across the country.
The budget recognizes the importance of greater collaboration between the private sector and universities. It provides funding for the Industrial Research Assistance Program and for Industrial Research and Development Internships (the latter to be administered by UBC-based Mitacs), as well as increased support to enhance Canadian venture capital, which is essential for researchers with market-ready applications.
The budget also provides funding for areas of particular interest to UBC, including funding to support applied forestry research and funding to advance research in isotope production.
“These announcements underscore the federal government’s commitment to research and innovation,” said UBC President Stephen Toope. “While the full impact of the budget will take some time to appreciate, I applaud today’s announcements in support of research excellence. These commitments will ensure that Canada will continue to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
The budget calls for ongoing consultation regarding the future of the National Research Council and recommendations made in the ‘Innovation Canada: A Call to Action’ report by Tom Jenkins, released last year.
“Government has initiated an important dialogue on stimulating greater innovation and productivity in Canada and has included research universities as key interlocutors. Today’s announcements reinforce that role and highlight the importance of research universities to our national economy and to the well-being of all Canadians,” said Toope.