OTTAWA, October 5, 2023—The Coalition for Canadian Research, made up of organizations representing post-secondary institutions, research hospitals, leading life sciences companies, university and hospital-based researchers, university faculty, health charities, student leaders, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers across Canada have convened on Parliament Hill to call on the federal government to increase funding for Canadian research.
After two successive years without any new funding and stagnant levels of support for researchers, the Coalition for Canadian Research has been formed by organizations representing the broad spectrum of Canada’s research community to express the urgency for the federal government to make a major new investment in research funding that reflects the pressing need to secure highly-qualified talent, attract investment and foster innovation to underpin Canada’s success in a turbulent world.
Without any funding increases to science and research, Canada risks falling further behind peer countries. Canada spent only 1.55% of GDP on research and development in 2022, well behind the OECD average of 2.71%. Meanwhile, the United States, Germany, Japan and many others have committed substantial new funding to make research a central component of their industrial vision and their solution to problems from climate change to future pandemics. The United States alone has committed over $200 billion USD in new science investments.
Canada must demonstrate similar ambition. Without action, there is a real risk of a brain drain of top talent overseas, meaning Canada will miss out on the skills, innovations and knowledge it will need to address our most pressing challenges. Succeeding in an increasingly competitive world depends on a healthy and vibrant research ecosystem. Our peers are recognizing this and Canada cannot afford to allow our research system to stagnate.
Earlier today, the Coalition for Canadian Research released an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, calling on the government to take immediate and significant action to ensure that science and research can help Canada build a sustainable, prosperous, and resilient society. The Coalition for Canadian Research is made up of the following groups:
- Association of Faculty of Medicines of Canada
- Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
- Canadian Association of University Teachers
- Evidence for Democracy
- Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
- Health Charities Coalition of Canada
- Research Canada
- Support our Science
- U15 Canada
- Universities Canada
Now is the moment for this government to show ambition and renew its commitment to science and research by making a major investment in the federal research system. Such an investment reflects the urgent need for increased funding recommended by the federal government’s own Advisory Panel in the Bouchard Report, which underlined the need for a major reinvestment to maintain Canada’s research and innovation ecosystem amid high inflation and mounting international competition.
The Coalition for Canadian Research is therefore proposing a significant increase to the base budgets of the federal research granting agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) and CFI, to enrich the fundamental research which is the foundation of Canada’s research ecosystem. In addition, the Coalition is calling for an increase to graduate scholarship and post-doctoral fellowship award amounts which have remained frozen for two decades. Together these steps can renew the health of the research system, help retain highly-qualified talent and underpin the supports early-career researchers, innovators and academics rely on to perform their work. We urge the government to step up to meet this call for action from across the research community.
By responding with an ambitious agenda for success in research that matches that of our peers, Canada can ensure we build a research system which harnesses our strengths, secures top talent for the future and attracts international investment. If Canada acts, this is an opportunity to build a progressive, productive and prosperous future.
“The cutting edge of Canadian research and scientific advancement lies with the future innovators that are currently struggling to make ends meet. Graduate and postdoctoral researchers are busy helping the future of Canada, and the federal government needs to help them in return.” – Wasiimah Joomun, Executive Director, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
“Science and research are critical for informing the solutions needed to meet Canada’s ongoing and future challenges. We need to be ambitious and we need to think long-term. And, most urgently, we must invest in graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, who power the engine behind Canada’s research ecosystem.” – Dr. Vanessa Sung, Interim Executive Director, Evidence for Democracy
“Federal leadership and investment is urgently needed to develop our next generation of researchers and make world-leading contributions in all fields. Without federal action, stagnant funding levels are going to cost Canada vital research talent as we fall further and further behind other countries.” – Gabriel Miller, President & CEO of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
“Research in Canada is in trouble and the opportunity for Canada to act is now. Budget 2024 can make the difference by reinvesting in research and people through the Tri-Agencies. Investments in health research are critical to Canada’s future and reinvestments in research are first and foremost investments in people.” – Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, President and CEO of Research Canada
“With Canada’s health system in crisis, it has never been more crucial to make investments in health research. These investments enable the discovery of treatments that improve the lives of people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, lead to innovations that make healthcare more accessible and efficient, train the next generation of health and highly skilled workers, and help address the greatest challenges of our times, like an aging population and climate change.” – Paul-Émile Cloutier, President and CEO of HealthCareCAN
“Canada must do more to protect and prevent further losses in vital health research which is critical to unlocking new approaches to disease treatment and management. Immediate and sustained investments in research are needed to ensure that Canada remains a global competitor.” – Connie Côté, CEO of Health Charities Coalition of Canada
“Our next generation researchers in Canada are facing significant financial challenges in the pursuit of knowledge, innovation, and discovery. Despite being a pillar of the research community, their wages have remained unchanged for 20 years. Today, the research community is speaking with one voice to call on the government to increase funding for research in Canada so that our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can take home a living salary.” – Sarah Laframboise, PhD Student at the University of Ottawa and Executive Director of Support Our Science
“All the leading countries in the world are embracing science and research as the way to build a globally competitive, resilient and prosperous society. But in Canada we are losing focus on that. Canada must match the ambition of our peers to advance knowledge and develop highly-qualified talent for the benefit of all on an increasingly competitive global stage.” – Dr. Chad Gaffield, CEO of U15
“Investments in research are key to delivering the talent we need to meet our industrial goals and solve the many challenges we face as a country. Yet, at a time when our competitors are doubling down on their domestic research capacity, Canada is falling behind. Now is the time for Canada to take the urgent steps necessary to build the highly skilled workforce of the twenty-first century by investing in research.” – Philip Landon, Interim President and CEO of Universities Canada
About Research Canada
Research Canada is a national alliance dedicated to increasing investments in health research through collaborative advocacy and engaging government, academia, industry and non-profit sectors to build support for long-term health research funding. For more information, visit rc-rc.ca.
Manager of Policy and Public Affairs