Earlier this week, the Government of Canada tabled a historic budget for research, responding to the views expressed by researchers across Canada and the recommendations made in the Fundamental Science Review.
Budget 2018 highlights several key themes that align very well with UBC’s priorities – increasing opportunities for women in the economy, investing in the success of Indigenous people in Canada, new measures to promote sustainability, and, of course, research and science.
On behalf of the University of British Columbia, I want to thank the government for making the largest increase to fundamental research funding in Canadian history. Budget 2018 includes $1.22 billion of new funding over the next five years for the tri-council research granting agencies (a 25 per cent increase in annual funding by year five), $763 million for research infrastructure under the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), $210 million for Canada Research Chairs, and more.
These are incredible new investments in the fundamental research ecosystem that underpins Canada’s advanced knowledge economy.
Included in the new funding for the tri-council agencies, Budget 2018 proposes a measure that I’m very hopeful will help fill a gap in the Canadian research funding system. The budget allocates $275 million over five years for a new fund that will focus on multidisciplinary, international, fast-breaking, and higher-risk research. I am particularly excited by this proposal as I have heard from many researchers at UBC about their desire to collaborate more often with colleagues from other fields of inquiry. I look forward to learning more about this new fund, and I’m optimistic it will provide new opportunities for exciting research partnerships that explore the intersection between fields.
Budget 2018 is a clear recognition of the value of the Canadian science and research community. The budget states, “Research expands our basic understanding of the world, generates new ideas, leads to new jobs for our children and grandchildren when they grow up, and helps to build a workforce that is better able to respond to challenges with creativity and confidence. This doesn’t just have economic benefits —I t also makes Canada and the world a safer, healthier, better place to live.”
I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, and it is extremely encouraging to see this language reflected in a federal budget document.
Budget 2018 is also, in part, a direct response to the Fundamental Science Review (FSR). I want to thank Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science (and recently appointed Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities), for commissioning the review. The review provided a roadmap for the government to follow to revitalize Canada’s research ecosystem and, in so doing, boost our innovation capacity.
The review also galvanized the science and research community across Canada. At UBC, we hosted discussions over the course of several months in 2017 to hear from our faculty, staff and students where they thought the government should focus their investments. In the months following our early consultations, we saw a grassroots movement develop across Canada — I believe the efforts of everyone involved in this movement were essential to achieving the level of new investment reflected in Budget 2018. Thank you all for the collective effort to champion science and research in Canada — you should be proud of this budget.
I look forward to diving deeper into the details of Budget 2018 and discussing the implications for UBC and research universities across Canada.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor