Canadian disinvestment in science

More than 120 researchers from Quebec and New Brunswick recently sent a letter to the federal minister responsible for innovation, science and industry, François-Philippe Champagne, asking him to do something.

However, this national non-engagement in funding scientific research is not recent. We've talked before on this show and elsewhere on this site about what was called at the time the “great darkness” of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's years. And the report on the state of basic science in Canada highlighted the problem of declining funding in 2017.

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Isabelle Burgun discusses the decline in federal government investment in scientific research with:

  • Marc-Denis Rioux, professor of civil engineering at the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR). He is the author of the letter “The price of innovation, the consequences of usefulness”, which was signed by 123 scientists and published by several media.
  • Yves Gingras, professor of history and sociology of science and scientific director of the Observatory for Science and Technology at UQAM

That is the heart of the matter, whether in the form of fellowships, chairs or fellowships. While the global trend is upward with an average of 2.71% of GDP, Canada is stalling and even regressing in terms of funding: we would go from 1.8% in 2000 to 1.5% in 2023.

In their letter, the researchers write that “we are missing the boat and basic research funding remains a very poor ratio of research funding in Canada.”

How can we explain this downward trend that transcends governments?

At the same time, there is a trend to focus subsidies more on partnerships with industry. What are the risks other than turning to trending topics?

When comparing the GDP of different countries, however, we must take into account that some countries invest a lot in military research?

Do we have the means in Canada to realize our ambitions?

In 2023, it happened Report of the Advisory Committee on the Federal System of Research Support, with a mandate to advise the Government of Canada on how to modernize the federal university research support system. Has this report been “tabletted” yet?

There was also the 2017 Naylor Report which reported on numerous cuts to science funding during the Harper years. : a nearly 15-year decline in independent Canadian research and a 35% cut in federal funding.

What are the prospects for the future?


I vote for science is broadcast on Mondays at 1 pm on five regional stations VM radio. Hosted by Isabelle Burgun. Look for this show: Isabelle Burgun. You can also listen to us on CHOQ (Toronto), CFOU (Trois-Rivières) and CIAX (Windsor), among others.

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