Part of the Canadian government’s 2016 budget stipulated a review of science funding government-wide. This review will be led by Science Minster Kirsty Duncan, and was launched earlier this week. Minister Duncan expects the review to be completed by the end of 2016.
The review will be support by an independent panel of experience researchers. Former president of the University of Toronto David Naylor will chair the panel. The panelists are drawn from various public and private entities across Canada (Dr. Birgeneau preceded Naylor at the University of Toronto). The men and women working with Naylor on the panel are:
- Dr. Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor, University of California, Berkeley
- Dr. Martha Crago, Vice-President, Research, Dalhousie University
- Mike Lazaridis, co-founder, Quantum Valley Investments
- Dr. Claudia Malacrida, Associate Vice-President, Research, University of Lethbridge
- Dr. Art McDonald, former director of the Sudbury Neutrino Laboratory, Nobel Laureate
- Dr. Martha Piper, interim president, University of British Columbia
- Dr. Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist, Quebec
- Dr. Anne Wilson, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Successful Societies Fellow and professor of psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University
The panel will assess the current state of Canadian research institutions as well as examining the Canadian research ecosystem as a whole. It will consult with members of the Canadian research community and solicit input from the public. The panel will also review international best practices, particularly in areas that they identify as weaknesses in the Canadian system.
The panel’s mandate focuses on support for fundamental research, research facilities, and platform technologies. This will include the three granting councils as well as other research organisations such as the Canadian Foundation for Innvoation. But it does not preclude the panel from considering and providing advice and recommendations on research matters outside of the mandate. The plan is to make the panel’s work and recommendations readily accessible to the public, either online or through any report or reports the panel produces. The panel’s recommendations to Minister Duncan are non-binding. However, with researchers on the panel that are experienced in providing such advice to governments (such as Dr. Naylor), I think the panel’s recommendation stand a fair chance of being adopted by the government.
As Ivan Semeniuk notes at The Globe and Mail, the recent Nurse Review in the U.K., which led to the notable changes underway in the organization of that country’s research councils, seems comparable to this effort. But I think it worth noting the differences in the research systems of the two countries, and the different political pressures in play. It is not at all obvious to this writer that the Canadian review would necessarily lead to similar recommendations for a streamlining and reorganization of the Canadian research councils. Yes, Dr. Naylor recommended a streamlining of health care organisations in a review he conducted during the previous government. But the focus in health care is more application focused than is usually expected of fundamental research.
There is a simple mechanism online to receive comments (attachments are accepted as well), and as the panel begins its work, I would expect to see announcements of future meetings/consultations with stakeholders and the public. To keep informed, visit the website, and sign up for email updates.