Data check: R&D funding stagnates as Federal contribution falls

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Support for research and development in Canada has stagnated, due largely to a decrease if federal government support. Ontario continues to do better than most provinces, but mainly by directing more operating funds to research activities.
 
Statistics Canada reports that research and development (R&D) spending by universities and other higher education research institutions rose by 3.4 per cent between 2011-12 and 2012-13. After taking inflation into account, the increase was only 0.2 per cent. The flat-lining of research expenditures is largely due to a three per cent real decline in federal government support, which accounts for about one quarter of research funding.
 
Ontario’s higher education sector fared better than universities in most other provinces. Although federal funding spent in the province fell by almost two per cent, overall spending increased by almost four per cent. The provincial increase includes a partial recovery in business support after the financial crisis and record funding from not-for-profit agencies. However, most of the increase is attributable to funding from the operating funds of the institutions themselves, which accounted for 46 per cent of the financial backing for the R&D performed by Ontario universities.
 
There is no reason to believe Ontario will continue to be an exception in years after 2011-12. Operating funding to universities from the province will barely keep up with expected inflation. Enrolment increase will stretch operating funds even further. Nor is the provincial government increasing research funding to fill the gap. To the contrary, provincial research funding has been falling steadily for the past few years, even before taking inflation into account.
 
Government of Ontario, Minister of Finance, Expenditure Estimates
Statistics Canada, Spending on research and development in the higher education sector, 2011/2012

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