Research Canada calls for public investment in health research

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Roger Collier | CMAJ | August 4, 2017

Fundamental science research is the “primary fuel” of innovation, according to Research Canada, a national alliance dedicating to improving Canadian lives by championing health research. Investment in basic science, however, is woefully lacking in Canada, the group states in a letter to House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Finance.

As part of the consultations leading up to next year’s federal budget, Research Canada is calling on the federal government to invest an additional $485 million over four years in independent, investigator-led research. It is also asking for $300 million annually for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, created in 1997 to provide researchers with the tools they need to “contribute to the full spectrum of research.” Other recommendations include additional financial support for young researchers, small capital grants and to “diversify opportunities for science-based graduate students.”

The recommendations come from the final report of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, submitted to the government on April 10. Headed by Dr. David Naylor, a medical professor at the University of Toronto, the review’s expert panel lamented Canada’s eroding standing in research competitiveness compared to international peers. The report links this erosion to the decline of federal investment, relative to gross domestic product, in research and development over the past 15 years.

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