Read the questions we have sent to the four main parties in advance of the upcoming federal elections:
Dr. Katalin Toth, PhD, President
Dr. Karun Singh, PhD, Chair of the Advocacy Committee
Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Dear Federal Election Candidate,
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is the largest association of neuroscientists in Canada dedicated to the promotion of all fields of neuroscience research. Our association counts over 1100 members, all active researchers, and represents the thousands of scientists working in our laboratories, including technical laboratory personnel, graduate students and undergraduate trainees. Our common goal is to ensure that Canadian neuroscience research remains one of the strengths of this country. As support from the federal government is essential to attain this goal, the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience has chosen to write to candidates of all major parties for the 2019 elections to learn more about their policies to support both basic and applied research.
Here are five questions about your party’s research policy that we would like answered:
- Financial support from the Canadian government is essential to ensure Canadian researchers continue to innovate and make important independent discoveries. Between 2005 and 2018, many research teams had seen their budgets cut because of increasing demand and therefore decreasing success rates in open funding programs, which ultimately impedes innovation in Canada. The fundamental science review (http://www.sciencereview.ca) was released in 2017, highlighting critical areas that the federal government needed to invest in to maintain Canada as a leader in innovation. However, only a partial implementation of the report was performed. Is your Party committed to fully implementing the report of the Fundamental Science Review (Naylor report) with additional financial investment into open competitions to maintain Canada as a forefront leader in research innovation and research discoveries?
- How do you see the role of government in research? Should government agencies take an active role in identifying and targeting specific research priorities or should they benefit from the wealth of knowledge and information within our scientific communities by emphasizing the value of peer-review in determining the most exciting and important scientific research questions?
- Many recent governmental policies favour research with immediate applied value and potential industrial partnership. However, most great discoveries in science come from basic, curiosity-driven research, and supporting basic research is therefore an investment in the future. Canadian scientists are worried the balance is currently shifted too strongly towards applied research, at the detriment of basic research. How would your government work to balance the need for both applied and curiosity-driven basic research?
- Promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research is important for Canada to strengthen the scientific community and quality, social relevance and impact of research. For Canadian businesses, EDI is critical to promote a more creative and innovative workforce while reducing costs. How would your government promote and implement EDI in Canada’s research and workforce?
- In order for Canada to remain competitive globally, it is essential to invest in the next generation of trainees to provide them the financial support and resources they need to succeed. How would your government support trainee development?
We plan on publishing the answers to these questions on our website, https://can-acn.org, around mid-September, and would therefore appreciate if you could take the time to send us a response by that time.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions about our association, our members or our objectives. We wish to thank you in advance for your collaboration.