Data Check: Federal budget comes up short on research dollars

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Funding for basic research is the cornerstone of knowledge creation and innovation. Unfortunately, the federal government is doubling down on commercialization and letting basic research languish.
 
At Canadian universities, the largest chunk of public funding earmarked for university research comes from the federal government. In 2011-12, federal grants and contracts accounted for three-quarters of public research funding to Ontario universities.
 
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Alternative Federal Budget 2013 tells us that the federal granting councils responsible for allocating research funding based on peer-review criteria receive between one and eleven per cent less than they did in 2007. To reverse the cuts the Alternative Budget proposes an immediate 10 per cent increase in support to the research and granting councils. Including increases to graduate scholarships, the proposed increase is almost $250 million.
 
Federal Budget 2013 pays no heed. What “new” funding is promised for the granting councils is headed towards support for “research partnerships with industry,” not basic, curiousity-driven research. If the government’s Main Estimates for 2013-14 are anything to go by, their support for research is still three per cent lower. Budget 2013 continues the transformation of the National Research Council into a handmaiden of business.
 
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Alternative Federal Budget 2013
Council of Ontario Finance Officers, Financial Report of Ontario Universities
Government of Canada, Budget 2013
Government of Canada, Government Expenditure Plan and Main Estimates, 2013-14

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