Lab Canada

Canadians want a gold medal in health and medical research

Ottawa, ON – Canadians want to emerge from the middle of the pack and be a global leader in health and medical research, according to an important new survey on health research released this week by six leading national health organizations. An overwhelming majority of Canadians say governments should increase funding for health and medical research, despite a weak economy.

The survey, Canada Speaks! 2010: Canadians Go for Gold in Health and Medical Research, updates the results from the landmark Research Canada survey in 2006.

“Even in a recession, Canadians continue to see health and medical research as a top priority, says Dr Marla Shapiro, associate professor, department of family and community medicine, University of Toronto and board director, Research Canada. “That’s because they know it holds promise for improved health outcomes and they believe breakthroughs are on the horizon for major diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.”

Dr Michael Julius, chair of Research Canada and vice-president of research, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, adds, “At a time when Canadians identify the economy as the most important issue facing Canadians, 84% of Canadians say health and medical research also makes an important contribution to the economy. A further 90% of Canadians believe basic research should be supported by government even if it brings no immediate benefits.”

Survey highlights include:

– 89% of Canadians believe that Canada should be a global leader in health and medical research. However, a majority of Canadians understand that Canada is a middle of the pack player among industrialized nations.*

– 84% of Canadians say health and medical research makes an important contribution to the economy, recognizing that the economy is the most important issue facing Canadians today.

– 90% of Canadians believe basic research should be supported by government, even if the benefits are not immediate.

– Nine out of 10 Canadians think it is important for both federal and provincial governments to invest in the education and training of health and medical researchers; a proportion slightly higher than seen in the 2006 survey.

– Even in a recession, seven out of 10 Canadians are willing to pay out of pocket to improve health and research capacity.

– Most Canadians believe breakthroughs for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s are attainable within 10 to 20 years.

– Four out of five Canadians agree that the federal government should support tax and regulatory policies that encourage private industries to conduct more medical research.

The research was conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion between December 7th and 10th, 2009 and involved a random survey of 1,000 adult Canadians. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The six leading health organizations which commissioned the research: Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), BIOTECanada, Canadian Healthcare Association (CHA), Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), MEDEC – Canada’s Medical Technology Companies and Research Canada: An Alliance for Health Discovery.

The full results of the Canada Speaks! 2010 survey can be found at

* In Canada’s Science Technology and Innovation System: State of the Nation 2008, the Science Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) concluded that Canada is a “mid-level performer” amongst industrialized nations.