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.
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
Data source available here (xls format)
CIHR budget 2000-2020
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$1.03 billion, including its share of spending contained in the relevant tri-council programs. The thirty-fold difference contrasts with a nine-fold difference in population. Adjustments for GDP per capita or purchasing power have only a minor influence on such large discrepancies. “
Naylor et al. April 2017 http://www.sciencereview.ca
NSERC budget 2007-2020
Data source available here (xls format)
The Fundamental Science Review Report (2017)
The Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science was appointed in June 2016. Their mandate entailed a review of the federal system of supports for research conducted by scientists and scholars employed outside of federal, provincial, or territorial government departments and agencies. The Fundamental Science Review, also known as the Naylor Report, made important recommendations to improve the Canadian Research Ecosystem.
The Panel’s single most important recommendation (R6.1) is that the federal government should rapidly increase its investment in independent investigator-led research to redress the imbalance caused by differential investments favouring priority-driven targeted research over the past decade. (Investing in Canada’s future – Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research: Canada’s fundamental Science Review, page xviii http://www.sciencereview.ca/eic/site/059.nsf/vwapj/ScienceReview_April2017-rv.pdf/$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.
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
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)
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
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.
New advocacy opportunities
CAN is proud to launch two new advocacy initiatives today:
- The CAN federal election engagement toolkit
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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…)
CAN submission to Department of Finance pre-budget consultations
On January 25, 2021 – the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mona Fortier, launched pre-budget consultations. These discussions allow the government to hear the best ideas from Canadians and experts across the country about how Budget 2021 can support Canadians through the pandemic and help us build back better.
When COVID-19 is under control and Canada’s economy is ready to rebound, the government has a plan to make smart, targeted investments to jumpstart the country’s economic recovery and begin to repair the damage done by the pandemic. These pre-budget consultations are an opportunity for Canadians from across the country to share their ideas and priorities for how the government can best invest to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and build a greener, more competitive, more inclusive, and more resilient economy.
Read the full press release here:
and visit the consultation website here: https://letstalkbudget2021.ca/
Read the Canadian Association for Neuroscience’s submission here
CAN President Charles Bourque participation in the Canadian Science Policy Conference as panelist
Professor Charles Bourque will participate in the session: Roles & Responsibilities of Academic Science Societies in informing Policy: Lessons & Observations from Around the World – November 17th at 8:30 via zoom, as part of the Canadian Science Policy Conference which takes place virtually this year.
Take a look at the whole program here: https://sciencepolicyconference.ca/program-2020-2/
Panel description and participants
CAN Hill week is taking place November 2-6, 2020, virtually
We are very excited to be organizing the first ever CAN Hill week, which will take place November 2 -6 2020, virtually. Our objective is to advocate for more funding for fundamental research in Canada through CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.
We have over 25 meetings organized in which over 50 CAN neuroadvocates will participate.
Follow us on social media to learn more!
Read our CAN Hill week one-pager to learn more
CAN publishes an article in MacLean’s and Chatelaine magazine
The article was published in MacLean’s in October 2020, in a special section on “Understanding Neurological Conditions”, and re-published in the December 2020 edition of Chatelaine, in a special section on “Managing Chronic Conditions”.
It was also published online on the healthinsight.ca website.
CAN Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finances
We have made the following recommendations
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 reliable 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, until commensurate with other G7 countries. This recommendation is in accordance with the Fundamental Science Review and will ensure Canada’s research ecosystem is healthy and resilient to face any future challenge. (more…)