Budget 2018 sets Canadian science funding in the right direction with a focus on gender equity and diversity

By: The Science & Policy Exchange Team

February 28, 2018

Budget 2018 proved to be a step in the right direction for Canadian research and SPE is pleased to see a 5-year commitment to science and research reflected in its budget. Budget 2018 addresses a number of expectations of the research and university communities, committing $115M million in new funding to the tri-council granting agencies in 2018-19, increasing by $30-50M million per year until 2021-2022, for a total of $925 million. At its peak, this represents a 25% increase in the granting council budgets. This, according to the budget, will elevate Canada to “first in G7 for overall spending in higher-education research as a share of GDP.”

The budget also establishes funding for multidisciplinary research along with a focus on support for early-career researchers, both key recommendations of the Naylor Expert Panel. We applaud the increase in support for research infrastructure through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Research Support Fund, as well as federal government science facilities, and the budget’s overarching understanding of science not only as an economic driver but also as critical for all Canadians. We were also pleased to see gender equity and diversity as key themes in this science budget, with specific support for research institutions that adopt programs like Athena SWAN and funding allocated to the granting councils for increasing diversity in science.

In the short to medium term, trainees will likely experience direct benefits from the reinvigoration of the tri-council granting agencies, which the budget estimates will lead to support for “6,000 top-tier researchers and principal investigators; 3,500 early-career researchers; 8,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students; 1,300 postdoctoral students; and 2,000 research assistants and technicians by 2022”. While the budget does not specifically outline support for additional studentships and fellowships, it indicates that this will be a focus of the government moving forward:

“Over the next year, the Government will be doing further work to determine how to better support students, the next generation of researchers, through scholarships and fellowships”

We look forward to increased support for studentships and fellowships, as well as ensuring sound science advice and evidence-informed decision making, in the 2019 budget and beyond.

In applauding the government’s efforts, we send our gratitude to all undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers who made their voices heard, in particular to those who participated in our #Students4theReport campaign, signed our open letter, and shared their testimonial videos. This renewed support for fundamental science could not have happened without you.