Proposed 2012 Budget supportive of research in times of fiscal austerity

In light of the significant cuts made to a number of government departments and agencies, the proposed 2012 Canadian federal budget  – the first for this majority Conservative government – has a number of positive innovation-related measures. It includes significant new funding for CFI. NSERC’s 2012-13 budget will not change, but $15M is redirected to support industry-academic research partnerships with the understanding that  “programming in support of basic research, student scholarships, and industry-related research initiatives and collaborations are preserved.”  There are also measures in the budget that are consistent with recommendations the CAP offered in its letter to the Prime Minister commenting on the Jenkin’s Report – such as increasing support for the IRAP program.  For physics and related areas, the chief measures are as follows:

  • $500 million over five years, starting in 2014-15, to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to support advanced research infrastructure
  • $74 million p.a. reduction in the Granting Councils budgets phased in over two years. By 2013-14 this reduces the NSERC budget by $30M – a 3% reduction in NSERC’s overall budget, which is significantly less than many departments suffered in this budget. These reductions are to be applied under the proviso that: “programming in support of basic research, student scholarships, and industry-related research initiatives and collaborations are preserved.”
  • Increase of $37 million p.a. starting in 2012-13 to the granting councils to enhance their support for industry-academic research partnerships. For NSERC this translates into $15 million p.a. for its Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation program.
  • $220 million p.a. phased in over two years to the National Research Council to double support to companies through the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). This represents a doubling of the support for IRAP, a measuresupported by CAP in its letter to the Prime Minister.
  • $107 million over two years for AECL’s laboratory operations.
  • $95 million over three years, starting in 2013–14, and $40 million per year thereafter to make the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program permanent and to add a military procurement component.
  • $67 million in 2012–13 as the National Research Council refocuses on business-led, industry-relevant research. The budget document adds the comment that “in consultation with businesses and university and college stakeholders, the Government will consider ways to better focus the National Research Council on demand-driven research, consistent with the recommendations of the Expert Panel.” It is not clear what this means, but suggests that there is a possibility for influencing the changes at NRC. The CAP letter to the Prime Minister pointed out that NRC’s own proposed changes were inconsistent with the Jenkin’s Report and recommended their Expert Panel review the proposed changes.
  • Streamlining and improving the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive program – this is in line with recommendations of the Jenkin’s Report and supported by CAP in its letter to the Prime Minister.
  • $40 million over two years to support CANARIE’s operation of Canada’s ultra-high speed research network.
  • $28 million p.a. phased in over two years to double the Industrial Research and Development Internship program to be administered by Mitacs – this is the only new support for students in this budget.
  • $60 million for Genome Canada to launch a new applied research competition in the area of human health, and to sustain the Science and Technology Centres until 2014-15.
  • $17 million over two years to further advance the development of alternatives to existing isotope production technologies.
  • $23 million over two years to Natural Resources Canada to enhance satellite data reception capacity.
  • $12 million per year to make the Business-Led Networks of Centres of  Excellence program permanent.
  • $10 million over two years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to link Canadians to global research networks.
  • $6.5 million over three years for a research project at McMaster University to evaluate team-based approaches to health care delivery.

The full budget can be found at in English and in French.

J. Michael Roney, PPhys                        Paul Vincett
President                                            Director of Science Policy