Budget 2017: Important Health and Innovation Investments with Uncertainty for Fundamental Science



OTTAWA, March 23, 2017 – The Trudeau Government’s 2017 Budget, Building a Strong Middle Class, makes important strategic investments in “superclusters”, stem cell research, opioid research, mental and Indigenous health. However, while taking steps to accelerate Canada’s innovation economy, the budget does not close the critical funding gap for Canada’s granting councils, prolonging uncertainty with respect to Canada’s commitment to growing a strong scientific foundation.

“Budget 2017 makes some important investments in strategic areas of health research and innovation, says Dr. Ryan Wiley, Chair of Research Canada and President of Shift Health. “The planned five-year, $950 million investment in superclusters will energize Canada’s leading innovation sectors, including health and life sciences, and act as engines of economic growth. Research Canada also welcomes renewed funding of $6 million in 2018-19 to the Stem Cell Network and the new investments in support of opioid research, mental, women’s and Indigenous health, students and scholarship.”

Canada’s investment in fundamental science over the past decade has slowed, failing to keep pace with global peers. With $76 million in new funding for the research granting councils in last year’s budget, the federal government had signaled renewed interest in fortifying the critical role of investigator-led discovery research in Canada’s innovation-driven economy. While Budget 2017 provides targeted resources for an array of health-related research priorities, including the health risks of climate change, it suspends expectations regarding future investment in Canada’s research foundation.

“Budget 2017 creates some uncertainty for Canadian health researchers because there is no new investment in granting councils’ base budgets,” says Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, President and CEO of Research Canada. “But it also offers some hope in stating that the expected findings from the Expert Panel’s Report on Fundamental Science will help maintain and strengthen Canada’s international standing and ensure that our scientists have the tools, training and support needed to excel globally. Research Canada expects that this review will yield clear recommendations on which the government will act quickly.”

Research Canada welcomes the creation of both the position and office of a Chief Science Advisor and applauds the investment of $2 million annually for the role and the secretariat.

Research Canada looks forward to working with the Government of Canada to strengthen Canada’s research and science base by investing in the discovery research that will fuel the next generation of innovations, create new industries, spur job creation and fuel economic growth.

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For further information:
Sean Dillon-Fordyce
Communications Manager
Cell: 613-277-4757
E-mail: sfordyce@rc-rc.ca