More than $200 million to support new, major programs is most welcome, Principal says
The federal government has taken some important initiatives in supporting university-level research in Canada, McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum said Tuesday, shortly after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget was presented in the House of Commons.
Munroe-Blum singled out three important programs that between them add $165 million in research funding and also noted that other funding increases add up to a significant amount of support for research in the context of a necessarily austere budget that works to reduce Canada’s deficit.
The three major programs the McGill Principal cited were:
• A new institute to allocate, on a competitive basis, $12 million over five years in research dollars for joint projects with India;
• Ten new Canada Excellence Research Chairs (or CERCs) in which the government provides $53.5 million over five years to bring the world’s best researchers to a Canadian university through a competitive process;
• A new, $100-million “Canada Brain Research Fund” program under which research projects will apply for funding (matched by Ottawa to a maximum of $100 million) under a competitive process.
“These are exciting new programs with substantial backing,” said Munroe-Blum, who chairs the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’s Standing Advisory Committee on University Research. “They will create important new opportunities for universities across the country and will continue the work the government has already done to boost research and innovation in Canada and to ensure we remain more competitive with the best of the world.”
The modest increase in this budget to the three federal granting councils nonetheless comes with a recognition of social sciences and humanities research and the important work done in these fields that is often overshadowed by research conducted in the physical and life sciences
Funding for the indirect costs of research – $10 million – is some recognition of the fact that institutions end up having to invest significantly in infrastructure and other costs to support laboratories and researchers attached to major research projects.
Munroe-Blum welcomed the five-year, $35-million program to encourage climate change research at Canada’s post-secondary institutions, saying she looks forward to universities contributing more in the effort to tackle this crucial issue.
“As it is, this budget expresses priority in maintaining and enhancing the vital support for Canadian research and innovation necessary to contribute the talent, discovery and innovation on which Canadians’ prosperity and well being depend,” Munroe-Blum said.