The Liberal Party answers CAN’s questions about science support

We have received a response from the Liberal Party of Canada to our five questions about science support.

  1. 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?

Our Liberal government believes in evidence-based policy and in science and in the Canadians behind the next big ideas. After a decade of setbacks and cuts to science under the Harper Conservatives, our government is rebuilding Canadian research and supporting our country’s greatest minds.  We unmuzzled our scientists, brought back the long-form census, and re-instated the position of the Chief Science Advisor.

We have invested more than $10 billion to support Canadian scientists and researchers–the largest investment in science and research in Canadian History. Now, more than ever, we cannot afford to go back to the Harper days of having our scientists muzzled and our researchers protesting the death of evidence on parliament hill.


  1. 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?

The Liberal Government understands that peer-review is critical to  maintaining research excellence. This is why Budget 2018 provided an historic 25% increase to support fundamental research through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research–which includes the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addictions.

We made the single largest investment in fundamental research in Canadian history with nearly $4 billion in Budget 2018 for our scientists and innovators. We’re building state-of-the-art research facilities across the country to attract top talent, and supporting initiatives that will increase the number of women in science and research. Our government is working hard to make sure that researchers and students have the funding, labs and tools they need to make the breakthroughs that improve lives, keep our economy strong, and support a growing middle class.

  1. 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?

Budget 2018 provided a historic 25% increase to the tri-agencies to support fundamental research. It also created the New Frontiers in Research Fund, which provides $275M to allow researchers to do high-risk, high-reward, interdisciplinary and international research. We know that research is becoming more complex and are providing the tools to researchers to answer the world’s next big questions.


  1. 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?

Our government understands that in today’s competitive global economy, equity and research excellence go hand-in-hand and we can’t afford to leave any talent on the sidelines.

That’s why we introduced new grants and launched Dimensions, a “made in Canada” version of the internationally recognized Athena SWAN program. This will create more opportunities for women and underrepresented groups in post-secondary institutions across Canada. Equity changes have also been built into the Canada Research Chair program to ensure that Chairs reflect Canada’s diverse research community, and ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to participate fully in Canadian research.

The Harper Conservatives not only dismissed the importance of equity and diversity, but they also muzzled our scientists, choosing to ignore evidence-based decision-making.


  1. 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 recognize the unique challenges facing Early Career Researchers. This is why Budget 2018 created 285 new Canada Research Chairs, including 250 Tier 2 CRCs to support ECRs. Additionally, in 2018 the Liberal Government ensured that new and existing Tier 2 chairs received a $20,000 research stipend in their first year.

The Liberal Government also understands the challenges facing PhD and Masters students as they work on their degrees. This is why Budget 2019 introduced a paid parental leave for up to one year for students who receive scholarships or fellowships from the federal granting agencies.

Budget 2019 also provided $115M to create 500 new Master’s scholarships and 500 new doctoral scholarships allocated through the granting-agencies to ensure Canada’s researchers can succeed.

To help more students prepare for good jobs while taking on less debt, we will move forward with more generous Canada Student Grants and more affordable and flexible student loans. We will give full- and part-time students up to $1,200 more per year, through increased Canada Student Grants, and will give students two years after graduation to get started in their career before they need to begin paying off their student loans, interest-free. We will also change the rules so that graduates won’t have to start repaying their loans until they make at least $35,000, and if their income ever falls below this level, their payments will be put on hold.