A survey held in July 2020 shows that research laboratories have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of the physical distancing measures that were taken to combat the pandemic.
Research laboratories were completely closed for 3 months or more, and most are still not functioning at full capacity. Our survey showed that most researchers reported loss in at least one of the categories in the graph below.
Loss of highly qualified personnel
Students, Staff members, Post-Doctoral fellows, Clinical fellows or visiting scientists were lost during the COVID pandemic (Relocation, leave of absence, loss of funding, etc.)
29% of PIs reported loss of 1 or more Paid Staff (Research Associates/Scientists, Research Technicians/Assistants)
24% reported loss of 1 or more Post-Doctoral Fellows
49% reported loss of 1 or more Students
Loss of productivity
How many more studies (publications) do you expect your lab would have completed (i.e. paper submitted or resubmitted) if the pandemic had not occurred?
89% of PIs (302) reported the inability to complete and submit findings for publication (On average, this was 2.4 more studies.)
Loss of funding
Was any of the funding you expected to receive/applied for during 2020-21 cancelled or delayed?
42% of PIs (143) reported loss or delay in funding for 2020-21 because of the pandemic.
Estimated percent of budget required only for COVID recovery
To the question what percentage of your lab’s annual budget will you need to spend solely to compensate for losses, restart and recovery of your operations? The average response was 27%
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience joins its voice to the rest of the scientific community in expressing disappointment in the lack of support for science, research, and students in Budget 2023.
There are some questions left unanswered following this budget:
How can the government fail to recognize that fundamental research drives innovation and economic growth?
Dr. Louis-Eric Trudeau, neuroscientist at the Université de Montréal and his research team hosted on April 4 two federal MPs, M. Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Québécois, and M. Maxime Joncas-Blanchette MP for the Rimouski region and in charge of science issues at the Bloc. The goal was to discuss the funding of neuroscience and biomedical research in Quebec and in Canada and also the challenges of sharing research discoveries in French. Both expressed strong support for increased federal funding for research.
Lab visits are a great way to engage with elected officials and promote science in Canada – Congratulations Dr. Trudeau!
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience joined its voice to a large coalition of Canadian stakeholders calling for the Canadian government to invest in a Canadian Brain Research Initiative, to make Brain and Mental Health Research a National Priority in Canada.
Read our brief, along with those of many other stakeholders, on the House of Commons website
CAN made the following recommendations to the recent consultations on budget 2023 by the Minister of Finances:
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience recommends the following:
Recommendation 1: That the government of Canada increase investments in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for the benefit of all Canadians. We urge the government to adopt a four-year plan to double the budgets of the three main federal funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) starting with a 25% increase in the next budget. This recommendation aims to bring Canadian investment in scientific research to a level commensurate to that of other G7 countries.
Recommendation 2: That the government of Canada increase its support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows by 50% for graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships to increase both value and number awarded in the next budget. In conjunction with recommendation 1, this recommendation will ensure our next generation of scientists have the means to participate fully in Canada’s knowledge economy.
Recommendation 3: That the government of Canada make research on the Brain and Mental Health a national priority by investing in research to understand the brain through well-established and trusted organizations in the field.
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience held its first in-person Parliament Hill Day on November 3, 2022 in Ottawa. It was an opportunity for our team of neuroadvocates to meet face to face or virtually with members of Parliament, Senators, Parliamentary staff members and important senior civil servants to advocate for a increased support for CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and to make research on Brain and Mental Health a national priority. (more…)
On June 6, the new House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research tabled its first ever report, as part of its study on “Successes, Challenges and Opportunities for Science in Canada”. The Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) was one of sixteen organizations that submitted a written submission as part of the consultations. The Committee held meetings over the course of three months, which CAN closely followed, hearing from science and research organizations, post-secondary institutions, companies and government departments.
CAN welcomes all 13 of the recommendations made to government, and is pleased that one of our recommendations (An initial 25% boost to the budgets of the three granting councils followed by a 10% yearly increase) was specifically referenced in the report. Additionally, we are happy to see that the Committee has recognized the tremendous setback to Canada’s research ecosystem caused by the pandemic, and the impact of the rapid mobilization of resources to conduct COVID-19 research, sometimes at the expense of research on other health issues. (more…)
Co-hosted by the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences and the Canadian Association for Neuroscience
On Monday, April 25, the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences and the Canadian Association for Neuroscience welcomed the Honourable Senator Stan Kutcher for a session on science policy and advice.
Scientists must engage in advocacy, it is an important part of their job
We need more scientists in Parliament.
In the absence of more scientists in Parliament, we need scientists and researchers to advocate on behalf of their communities, and highlight the important work they are doing.
We have to help politicians understand how science is part of everything we do, and how if we don’t invest in basic science, we don’t have the tools and products required to improve people’s health and lives.
Scientists and researchers need to be their own champions, and try to find other long-term science champions both in the House of Commons and in the Senate.
We need to highlight how government investments need to be in creating a “science enterprise”, so that young people will want to stay in Canada instead of going elsewhere, or being put off from doing scientific research all together.
It takes constant, repeated, and clear messaging. Fundamental science is a long-game, and communicating its impacts to politicians is a long-game.
Canada’s scientists need to trumpet their successes more. While mainstream media doesn’t have as many scientific journalists as it used to, science communicators need to step up to fill the void and to tell the story of science.