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Federal support for fundamental science under review


Ottawa, ON – The federal minister of science, Kirsty Duncan, has launched an independent review of federal funding for fundamental science. Plans for the review were announced with this year’s federal budget, and the review’s goal is to ensure that Canada’s research efforts are strategic, effective and focused on meeting the needs of scientists.

To be led by an independent panel of research leaders, the review will assess the program machinery that is currently in place to support science and scientists in Canada. Its scope will include the three granting councils along with federally funded organizations such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Dr. David Naylor, former president of the University of Toronto, will be chair of the panel. Other panelists include:

  • Dr. Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor, University of California, Berkeley

  • Dr. Martha Crago, vice-president, research, Dalhousie University

  • Mike Lazaridis, co-founder, Quantum Valley Investments

  • Dr. Claudia Malacrida, associate vice-president, research, University of Lethbridge

  • Dr. Art McDonald, former director of the Sudbury Neutrino Laboratory, Nobel Laureate

  • Dr. Martha Piper, interim president, University of British Columbia

  • Dr. Rémi Quirion, chief scientist, Quebec

  • Dr. Anne Wilson, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Successful Societies Fellow and professor of psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University

The government says the panel will spend the next six months seeking input from the research community and Canadians on how to optimize support for fundamental science in Canada. It will also survey international best practices for funding science and examine whether emerging researchers face barriers that prevent them from achieving career goals, along with what should be done to address these barriers and what more can be done to encourage Canada’s scientists to take on bold new research challenges. In addition to collecting input from the research community, the panel will also invite Canadians to participate in the review through an online consultation.

“I look forward to working with my fellow panellists and with Canadians in assessing the programs that support researchers who are charting new frontiers in investigator-initiated research,” said Dr. Naylor. “Our review will provide the government with the evidence it needs to build upon Canada’s ambitious research culture.”

“Our government must ensure its support for fundamental research is coherent, effective and agile enough to keep pace with the dynamic nature of contemporary science,” said Minister Duncan. “I encourage all Canadians to participate in this review by submitting their thoughts to this esteemed panel. Science, after all, is everybody’s business.”

Feedback can be submitted online at www.sciencereview.ca. A final report will be released by the end of 2016.