Science Policy Update
The Federal Budget 2017, released about two months ago, themed and dreamed on a single word: innovation. The CAP Science Policy committee summarized relevant physics-related impact in en French here or in English here.
In short, this year’s budget boiled down to the government saying: we want to be a country that has “innovation”; let’s spend (mostly) last year;s dollars on it; and let’s redesign and streamline government agencies to support this. This buzzword, when used from governments, typically points to generating ideas and rapidly putting them into practice for an improved product or service. Here, however, the working definition here may be much broader.
To physicists, perhaps the biggest impact was the noted lack of funds for fundamental research outside of targeted “challenge” areas to any of the Tri-Council’s operating budgets. This might have something to do with (at press time) the yet to be released Fundamental Science Review’s results on fundamental science funding and operation. However, it is to be noted that there now exists a $2 million per year budget for the new Chief Science Officer position and secretariat, and the creation of 25 new Canadian Research Chairs to attract/retain research talent. It will be interesting to see how that Fundamental Science Review will address how these new positions will someday compete for (currently stagnant) future Tri-Council funding with everyone else.
An important element for innovation is the development of technical and problem-solving skills in Highly Qualified Personnel. This was addressed for the future and nearly-present working generations from increased science outreach funding to PromoScience and education opportunities for teaching kids to code for school-aged children. In addition, Canada Student Loans saw increased eligibility, especially for part-time students. It is currently unclear how science will continue to fare and be received by this government, but we shall see.
Would you like to know more about the CAP’s role in shaping science policy? Are you interested in getting involved? In either case, please feel free to get in touch with our Director of Science Policy, Kris Poduska (firstname.lastname@example.org).