Science funding in Canada – Statistics

Fundamental research funding in Canada is viewed in a positive light by Canadians, who understand its importance for their health and well-being, and by the current government.  However, despite the re-investments in the Canadian funding agencies announced in 2018, research funding in Canada remains low when compared to that of other countries.

CIHR statistics

Compiled by the Canadian Association for Neuroscience from data available on the CIHR website.

Project grants granted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are the core funding mechanism for biomedical research in Canada.  Unfortunately, success rates in recent competition have been dwindling (Figure 1).  The success rates for funding applications at CIHR has steadily declined since 2005, from a 31% success rates to a success rate below 15% in 2018 (less than one in six successful applications). Current success rate levels are too low to maintain a diverse and flourishing research environment, as many excellent research programs go unfunded due to lack of available funds. Success rates under 20% means that researchers spend countless hours writing grant applications, while their chance of being successful are too low to be sustainable. In addition, it should be noted that the current 15% (or less) funding level is only achieved by making drastic cuts to the budgets of all project grants (often >25%), which further highlights the lack of sufficient funding for this competition.

CIHR Grant application success rates 2000-2020

Cihr grant application success rates

 

Data source available here (xls format)

CIHR budget 2000-2020

CIHR budget

 

Data source available here (xls format)

Comparison with the NIH budget

“Comparisons in funding remain germane. CIHR has a broader mandate than the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Moreover, the U.S. funds a significant fraction of applied research in healthcare innovation and healthcare quality through two other federal agencies with a combined operating budget of close to US$1.50 billion per year. In 2016-17 the NIH budget was US$30.62 billion, while the CIHR budget was C$1.03 billion, including its share of spending contained in the relevant tri-council programs. The thirty-fold difference contrasts with a nine-fold difference in population. Adjustments for GDP per capita or purchasing power have only a minor influence on such large discrepancies. “

Naylor et al. April 2017 http://www.sciencereview.ca

NSERC Statistics

NSERC budget 2007-2020

NSERC budget 2007-2020

Data source available here (xls format)

Student stipends

More support is required to maintain our attractiveness for the next generation of researchers. Scholarships have not kept up with inflation, and no new investment in Canada’s scholarship programs have been announced in recent budgets. It is disheartening for students, who must now face rising housing costs and inflation rates, and who see their supervisors struggling to receive research funding. Academia is viewed as an uphill battle, with no clear indication that the situation will improve, and this disheartening prospect amplifies concern about the viability of fundamental research, including brain sciences, in Canada.

Paying students a living wage is the base for equity, diversity and inclusion, and absolutely required if we are to attract the brightest minds from diverse backgrounds and not only those who are independently wealthy.

Dr. Spencer Arbuckle and Dr. Megan Roussy shared an interesting comparison on social media, showing the importance of indexing scholarship to reflect higher cost of living in Canada:

NSERC PGS doctoral award vs poverty line
Constant NSERC PGS doctoral amount vs the Canada poverty line

The poverty line in the figure shows Statistics Canada’s low income cut off for a single person living in a large Canadian city, after taxes- see here

The Fundamental Science Review Report (2017)

The Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science was appointed in June 2016. Their mandate entailed a review of the federal system of supports for research conducted by scientists and scholars employed outside of federal, provincial, or territorial government departments and agencies. The Fundamental Science Review, also known as the Naylor Report, made important recommendations to improve the Canadian Research Ecosystem.

The Panel’s single most important recommendation (R6.1) is that the federal government should rapidly increase its investment in independent investigator-led research to redress the imbalance caused by differential investments favouring priority-driven targeted research over the past decade.  (Investing in Canada’s future – Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research: Canada’s fundamental Science Review, page xviii http://www.sciencereview.ca/eic/site/059.nsf/vwapj/ScienceReview_April2017-rv.pdf/$file/ScienceReview_April2017-rv.pdf)

In response to the publication of the Fundamental Science Review, the Federal budget of 2018 announced a historic investment in science. However, examination of the recommendations of the Naylor report and the investments announced in 2018 shows that full implementation of the recommendations of the Naylor report has not been achieved.

Fundamental science review recommendations - budget 2018

The Fundamental science review report proposed investments in Investigator-led direct project funding over 4 years of $1215 Millions, while $689 Millions were included in the same four year period in budget 2018, or 56.7%.

Source: Report of the Fundamental Science Review, p. 154
http://www.sciencereview.ca/eic/site/059.nsf/vwapj/ScienceReview_April2017-rv.pdf/$file/ScienceReview_April2017-rv.pdf

and Budget 2018 Chapter 2 p. 122—Progress millions of dollars – Investing in Canadian Scientists and Researchers: Granting Councils (https://www.budget.gc.ca/2018/docs/plan/toc-tdm-en.html)

OECD Statistics

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives. The OECD collects data and publishes statistics on a wide range of range of social, economic and environmental challenges.
Here we present a collection of graphics on science performance, science funding and the number of researchers in Canada. Canada is compared to the other countries of the G7.

Gross domestic spending on Research and Development

The following figure shows that Canada is the only country in the G7 in which Gross domestic spending on R&D has been going down since 2001.

Canada is now second to last in the G7 in this metric.

Direct link: https://data.oecd.org/chart/6atc

Researchers

The following figure shows that the number of researchers per 1000 employed has been going down since 2011 in Canada


Direct link: https://data.oecd.org/chart/6atk

Youth science performance

Canada’s youth hits high scores in science – Scientific performance, for PISA, measures the scientific literacy of a 15 year-old in the use of scientific knowledge to identify questions, acquire new knowledge, explain scientific phenomena, and draw evidence-based conclusions about science-related issues. The mean score is the measure.
Both boys and girls score high in this measure in Canada.

Direct link: https://data.oecd.org/chart/6atp

 

Research-driven innovation is one of the pillars of today’s knowledge-based economy. The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is committed to advocating for increases in the total budget of the three main granting councils of Canada, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

 


Recording available: Science Policy Session with Senator Stan Kutcher – April 25, 2022

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.

Key takeaways:

  • 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.

(more…)


CAN-ACN response to budget 2022 – “A Plan to Grow our Economy and Make Life More Affordable”

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience recognizes key investments that were made to support targeted research areas in budget 2022 but calls on the government to provide broader support to the Canadian scientific community through increased funding for fundamental research. We are specifically disappointed with the lack of increased support for non-targeted, hypothesis-driven & investigator-led research funded through Tri-Agency – Canadian Institutes of Health Research – CIHR, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council – NSERC, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council -SSHRC). (more…)


March 21 – 25, 2022 is CAN Parliament Hill Week

Canadian neuroadvocates are meeting with members of Parliament, Senators and Parliamentary staff this week for CAN Parliament Hill Week!

We are advocating for increased funding for basic research in Canada, provided through CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC. Our specific asks are:

Recommendation 1: That the government of Canada provide a one-time 25% increase in investment 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 research restart and recovery from the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic to research laboratories in Canada.

Recommendation 2: The government should commit to providing robust and predictable funding for basic discovery research to sustain and grow Canada’s scientific community. Funding to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) should be increased by at least 10% yearly. This recommendation is in accordance with the 2017 Fundamental Science Review and will ensure Canada’s research ecosystem is healthy and resilient to face any future challenge.

Read more in our

Follow us on social media this week #CANHillWeek #NeuroAdvocate


Read our submission to the pre-budget consultations

Increased investment in scientific research: An investment in the health and prosperity of Canadians today and tomorrow

We have made the following recommendations to the government in the pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2022 Federal budget:

Recommendation 1: That the government of Canada provide a one-time 25% increase in investment 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 research restart and recovery from the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic to research laboratories in Canada.

Recommendation 2: The government should commit to providing robust and predictable funding for basic discovery research to sustain and grow Canada’s scientific community. Funding to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) should be increased by at least 10% yearly. This recommendation is in accordance with the 2017 Fundamental Science Review and will ensure Canada’s research ecosystem is healthy and resilient to face any future challenge.

You can read our full submission here

Consultations take place until February 25, 2022, here:  https://www.letstalkbudget2022.ca/let-s-talk-budget-2022


CAN advocacy award winner: Who can become a scientist?

CAN is proud to support the “Who can become a scientist?” workshop

Description of event

Who can become a scientist? is a workshop for a high school age audience. The workshop is approximately 1.5 hours and is currently in a virtual format. The program is led by a team of dedicated undergraduate and graduate volunteers, and pairs module-based education about equity diversity and inclusion issues in science along with audience-participation activities. The workshop begins with a ~25 min interactive introduction, that includes participants being asked to participate in a poll regarding their career interests and to draw or write a description of a scientist (not for sharing with the group just for their own reference). This is followed by a number of self and pair/small group reflection-type questions and then leads into 3 optional modules, titled:

  1. Getting inspired by role models: “If you can see it, you can be it!”
  2. Leveraging support from mentors
  3. Advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion

Target audience / Outreach potential

The target audience is high school age students, but could be adapted to broaden the scope. We expect to reach between 50 and 200 high school age students in this first year.

Main objective of event

To promote the awareness and importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion in science.

Organizer(s)

The idea for the workshop was sparked by a discussion about equity, diversity and inclusion amongst members of the Swayne lab at the University of Victoria. Over the past year, the workshop has been developed by a collaborative group including members the Swayne lab, University of Victoria faculty members, and students at the University of Victoria together with the local chapter of Let’s Talk Science, with input and feedback from the University of Victoria Office of Equity and Human Rights.

Developers & Organizers:

Leigh Anne Swayne
Rebecca Candlish
Juan Sanchez-Arias
Emma van der Slagt
Afnan Juma
Dzifa Dordunoo
Jane Gair
Moussa Magassa
Elisa Gonçalves de Andrade
Simone St. Louis Anderson
Melissa Mills
Hannah Richards
Crystal Washington

 


New advocacy opportunities

CAN is proud to launch two new advocacy initiatives today:

  1. The CAN federal election engagement toolkit
  2. The Canadian Science Discoveries Video contest

The CAN federal election engagement toolkit

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) has several priorities this Federal Election, including:

  • A commitment to provide a one-time 25% increase in investment in the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for research restart and recovery from the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic to research laboratories in Canada.
  • A commitment to provide robust and predictable funding for basic discovery research to sustain and grow Canada’s scientific community. Funding to the CIHR, the NSERC and the SSHRC should be increased by at least 10% yearly.
  • A commitment to reinstate a dedicated Minister of Science, so that the unique needs of the scientific community may have a devoted seat at the Cabinet table.

As such, we have prepared an “Election Toolkit” for CAN Members looking to get engaged throughout the election which is available in the CAN Election Readiness Google Drive here: shorturl.at/dowzC . If you have any questions, or if you need further assistance, please feel free to contact Kristina Proulx from TSA at kproulx@tsa.ca.

The Canadian Science Discoveries Video contest

The goal of this contest, which is open to everyone, is to raise awareness of the importance of fundamental science by sharing Canadian science success stories

View all the details of the contest here: https://can-acn.org/canadian-science-discoveries-video-contest/


Read CAN’s submission to the pre-budget consultations of the House of Commons standing committee on Finances

Read CAN’s submission here: Increased investment in scientific research: An investment in the health and prosperity of Canadians today and tomorrow (PDF)

You can submit a brief also! The Standing Committee on Finance is accepting submission to its Pre-Budget Consultations in advance of the 2022 budget. Written submissions of no more than 2,000 words, can be submitted to the Committee until Friday, August 6, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. More information is available in the news release.

We also invite all our members to share our brief with their member of Parliament and election candidates.


Read our July 2021 Advocacy report

https://can-acn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/CAN_advocacy_report_July2021-1.pdf


Recording available: CSPC panel 128 – Roles & Responsibilities of Academic Science Societies in informing Policy: Lessons & Observations from Around the World

The recording of the CSPC panel from November 17 2020 is now available from the CSPC. Learn more on their website: https://sciencepolicy.ca/conference/cspc-2020/improving-linkages-between-science-policy/

CAN President Charles Bourque’s intervention begins at 1:08. (more…)


Read the latest CAN advocacy report

Click here to view the March 2021 CAN Advocacy report (more…)