The following is a quick analysis of science-related highlights from the proposed 2018 Federal Budget, entitled “Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, prepared by the CAP’s Science Policy Committee. Throughout the year, CAP will continue to monitor government policy that could affect physics in Canada.
This brief is intended to capture those highlights most relevant to members of CAP, and does not include all aspects of the investments made to research and post-secondary education.
The full budget can be found at https://www.budget.gc.ca/2018/home-accueil-en.html in English and https://www.budget.gc.ca/2018/home-accueil-fr.html in French.
It is clear that the Government listened to the research community’s call to implement the recommendations embodied in the Fundamental Science Review – the “Naylor report”. Overall, the budget responds to many of the priority areas outlined in the report’s financial recommendations. While Budget 2018 does not fully meet the report’s recommended roadmap, it does provide very large investments in fundamental science across a broad range of areas outlined below, and it exceeds the Naylor report’s recommendation regarding CFI funding.
Canada’s tri-councils — NSERC, CIHR, and SSHRC — saw the largest increase in new investment in basic research: a total of $925 million over a five year period, starting with $235 million in 2018-19. This was not the full ask of the Naylor report, but still a significant increase over the previous decade’s decline in R&D funding per GDP. In addition, a new tri-council fund of $275 million over five years ($65 million per year thereafter) for international, fast-paced, higher-risk interdisciplinary research was also announced, to be administered by SSHRC. The Naylor report requested an additional $140 million [per year] to restore the value of the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) that has been eroded by inflation since 2000” and augment the number of CRC’s. The budget proposes to increase annual tri-council funding for the Canada Research Chairs by $50M by 2020. The total increase to the tri-councils over the next 5 years is $1.4 billion, resulting in an increase to the tri-council’s “annual budgets for fundamental research by over 25 per cent when they reach their peak in three years time.”
Budget 2018 proposes to consolidate programs for business-academic engagement. At NSERC, for example, Engage Grants, Industrial Research Chairs, Connect Grants, Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks and Projects, and Experience Awards Grants will be consolidated into “a single Collaborative Research and Development Grant program.”
To move towards achieving its goal of greater diversity among the tri-council research funding recipients, including improved support for women, underrepresented groups (including indigenous) and early career researchers, the Government is investing $6 million over five years ($0.5 million ongoing) for surveys to collect improved data on researchers, as well as $15 million over five years for programs addressing improved equality and diversity in academia at post-secondary institutions.
Budget 2018 proposes “to provide the Canada Foundation for Innovation with $763 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to provide the tools researchers need.” These funds include a renewal of the Major Science Initiatives Fund, on which facilities like the Canadian Light Source and SNOLAB rely. The Naylor report recommended permanent funding for the CFI at a minimum of $300M per year. The budget’s response to this recommendation is to “establish permanent funding at an ongoing level of $462 million per year by 2023–24 for research tools and infrastructure,” which is much more than the Naylor report requested.
Other funding related to physics research in the 2018 Budget (more details are included in the budget excerpts below):
- To ramp up funding for the indirect costs of research via the Research Support Fund to an ongoing level of $59 million per year by 2021. The Naylor report recommended that the Research Support Fund be gradually increased by an additional $300 million per year.
- $572.5 million over five years, with $52 million per year ongoing thereafter, to implement a Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy to provide researchers with access to advanced computing and big data resources. The Naylor report recommended that Compute Canada and CANARIE be merged and given a mandate to lead in refining and implementing a national digital research infrastructure strategy.
- $140 million over five years, starting 2018-19, for the College and Community Innovation Program.
- Renewed funding of $15 million over three years, starting 2019-20, for the Institute for Quantum Computing.
- “Re-imagining” the National Research Council by providing, among other support, $540 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, and $108 million annually thereafter, for measures that will reinforce its research strengths. All the support in Budget 2018 will raise the National Research Council’s total annual budget to $1.1 billion.
S&T-related excerpts from the Budget
The Government proposes to make significant new investments to ensure that Canada’s current and future scientists and researchers have the funding and support they need to do their work. Budget 2018 proposes an investment of nearly $4 billion in Canada’s research system to support the work of researchers and to provide them access to the state-of-the-art tools and facilities they need.
Fundamental Science Review: the “Naylor” Report
In the past year, the Government of Canada received the report from the expert panel on Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, led by Dr. David Naylor. Since the recommendations of the Fundamental Science Review were released in 2017, the Government has heard the strong and united message from Canada’s research community on the importance of investing in the future of Canadian research. … Budget 2018 proposes a historic investment in support for researchers, in big data and in the equipment Canadian researchers need to succeed—and lead. This includes more than $1.7 billion over five years to support the next generation of Canadian researchers through Canada’s granting councils and research institutes, and would provide the single largest investment in fundamental research in Canadian history. It also includes over $1.3 billion over five years for investments in the laboratories, equipment and infrastructure researchers rely on every day.
In Budget 2018, the Government is proposing a historic investment to support this work—the most new funding for fundamental research through the granting councils in Canadian history.
The Government proposes to invest $925 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $235 million per year ongoing:
- $354.7 million over five years ($90.1 million per year ongoing) to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
- $354.7 million over five years ($90.1 million per year ongoing) to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
- $215.5 million over five years ($54.8 million per year ongoing) to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
To accelerate Canada’s transition to a more modern approach to research, Budget 2018 also proposes to create a new tri-council fund to support research that is international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and higher-risk. The Government proposes to provide $275 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $65 million per year ongoing, for this innovative approach, which will be administered by SSHRC on behalf of the granting councils.
These two proposed investments would increase the granting councils’ annual budgets for fundamental research by over 25 per cent when they reach their peak in three years time.
Canada Research Chairs
Budget 2018 proposes a new investment of $210 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, with $50 million per year ongoing, for the Canada Research Chairs Program. The purpose of this investment will be to better support early-career researchers, while increasing diversity among nominated researchers, including increasing the number of women who are nominated for Canada Research Chairs. This funding will provide the flexibility to improve the program to meet researcher priorities, and could result in, for example, 250 additional Chairs for early-career researchers by 2020–21, and a sizeable increase in funding provided to early-career researchers. The Government expects the granting councils to target new funding to early-career researchers whose diversity better represents Canada’s population.
Scholarships and Fellowships
Over the next year, the Government will be doing further work to determine how to better support students, the next generation of researchers, through scholarships and fellowships.
Indirect Costs of Research (Research Support Fund)
[The Research Support Fund] provides universities with resources to cover the indirect costs of research, including overhead costs such as those related to the maintenance of laboratories and other research space that are shared widely and therefore not covered through the granting council’s direct research funding. Budget 2018 proposes to provide $231.3 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, with $58.8 million per year ongoing, to SSHRC, which administers this program on behalf of the granting councils.
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Budget 2018 proposes to provide the Canada Foundation for Innovation with $763 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to provide the tools researchers need. This includes $160 million for increased support to Canada’s nationally important research facilities through the Foundation’s Major Science Initiatives Fund. The Government also proposes to establish permanent funding at an ongoing level of $462 million per year by 2023–24 for research tools and infrastructure supported through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy
The Government proposes to provide $572.5 million over five years, with $52 million per year ongoing, to implement a Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy that will deliver more open and equitable access to advanced computing and big data resources to researchers across Canada. The Minister of Science will work with interested stakeholders, including provinces, territories and universities, to develop the strategy, including how to incorporate the roles currently played by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Compute Canada and CANARIE, to provide for more streamlined access for Canadian researchers.
To modernize, simplify and improve the programs that bring together post-secondary researchers and businesses, Budget 2018 proposes to consolidate programming within each granting council in the following way:
- The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council will consolidate the Engage Grants, Industrial Research Chairs, Connect Grants, Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks and Projects, and Experience Awards Grants into a single Collaborative Research and Development Grant program.
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research will consolidate the eHealth Innovations Partnership Program and Proof of Principle Program into a single Industry Partnered Collaborative Research program. The Government will also introduce legislation to separate the functions of the President from those of the Chair of Governing Council at this granting council in order to implement best practices in organizational governance.
College and Community Innovation Program
Colleges and polytechnics are innovation intermediaries that actively collaborate with small and medium-sized businesses in their communities to solve business challenges. The Government proposes to provide $140 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to increase support for collaborative innovation projects involving businesses, colleges and polytechnics through the College and Community Innovation Program.
Other Research Institutes (“third-party research organizations”)
The government will consider a new approach to determine how to allocate federal funding to third-party research organizations, as advocated by Canada’s Fundamental Science Review. The three federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, for example, use a competitive model to determine funding allocations. To improve the adaptability and effectiveness of federal research funding, the Government will communicate in the coming year new competitive processes for research institutes and organizations. In the meantime, Budget 2018 proposes to provide support for the organizations below.
- Institute for Quantum Computing – The Government proposes to provide the Institute with renewed funding of $15 million over three years, starting in 2019–20, to continue to undertake high-calibre quantum research.
- Centre for Drug Research and Development – The Government proposes to provide $48 million over three years, starting in 2019–20, in renewed support for the Centre’s efforts to translate promising drug discoveries into commercialized health innovations and therapeutic products.
- Rick Hansen Institute – The Government proposes to provide renewed funding of $23.6 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, through Western Economic Diversification, to support the Institute’s efforts to achieve breakthroughs in spinal cord injury research and care.
- Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation – The Government proposes to contribute $10 million in 2018–19 to the Institute for Research on Public Policy to endow a Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation, a permanent research body to promote shared understanding of the Canadian federal community. The Centre will undertake research on issues such as the impact of emerging economic and social trends on Canada’s federal arrangements.
“Re-imagined” National Research Council
Budget 2018 announces a “re-imagined” National Research Council and proposes to provide $540 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $108 million annually for measures that will reinforce its research strengths and role as a trusted collaboration partner of industry.
The National Research Council will also be a part of the federal government’s gender-based analysis to ensure no unintended barriers to women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities among its researchers and those targeted by outreach programs.
- To catalyze transformative, high-risk, high-reward research with the potential for game-changing scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs, the Government proposes to provide $150 million over five years with $30 million per year ongoing, to the National Research Council to fund its scientists to work with innovators from post-secondary institutions and businesses on multi‑party research and development programs. This research will be modelled on the highly successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the United States.
- To encourage, test and validate transformative research ideas generated by the National Research Council’s world-class scientists, the Government proposes to provide $30 million over five years with $6 million per year ongoing, to the National Research Council to establish an ideation fund to target breakthrough research ideas through a competitive peer-reviewed process.
- To enhance collaboration with businesses and improve access to the National Research Council’s specialized facilities and equipment, scientists and technical services, the Government proposes to provide $62 million over five years with $12.4 million per year ongoing, to lower access fees charged to small and medium-sized enterprises and universities and colleges.
- To allow for better long-term research planning and delivery, the Government will convert the National Research Council’s longstanding temporary funding into ongoing permanent funding by providing $298 million over five years and $59.6 million per year ongoing.
Total funding proposed under Budget 2018 will raise the National Research Council’s total annual budget to $1.1 billion.
Renewal of Federal Laboratories: “the first phase of an ambitious plan”
Public Services and Procurement Canada will begin the process for the construction of multi-purpose, collaborative, federal science and technology facilities. Rather than work in silos, this new approach to federal science and discovery will look to bring together federal scientists and science facilities across government including Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the National Research Council and others in order to advance interdisciplinary research on, among other things, climate change, ocean protection, and human health. The Government proposes to provide $2.8 billion on a cash basis ($58 million on an accrual basis) over five years, starting in 2018–19, with $4.5 million per year ongoing. The new facilities will be built to achieve a net zero carbon footprint, and funding will support a new science infrastructure program management office to support the renewal of federal laboratories.
To build on this expertise [of the National Microbiology Laboratory] and deepen the cluster of expertise in infectious disease in Winnipeg, the Government proposes to provide $9.4 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to establish a Centre for Innovation in Infectious Disease Diagnostics, funded from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s existing resource levels.
The Government proposes to provide $20.6 million over four years, starting in 2019–20 with $5.1 million per year ongoing, to POLAR Knowledge Canada. This funding will support the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus and enable world-class cutting-edge research strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology.