2016 Federal Budget invests in university research, students

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The 2016 Federal Budget was released on March 22, 2016. It contains significant new funding for Canada’s research councils and university research generally. University revenues are most affected by provincial investments and policies, but this federal budget is largely good news for Ontario institutions. Like its Ontario counterpart released earlier this year, the Trudeau government’s first budget also invests in expanded grants for students.

The 2016 Federal Budget includes an additional $95 million a year to Canada’s research councils: $30 million for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), $30 million for the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and $16 million for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This represents a nearly 52 per cent increase in yearly research council funding, to a total of $141 million.

Other research measures announced in the Budget are:

  • Two new Canada Excellence Research Chairs in clean technology, worth $20 million over eight years
  • $14 million over two years to the Mitacs Globalink program
  • A $237 million endowment for Genome Canada
  • $12 million over two years to the Stem Cell Network
  • $50 million over five years to support the Perimeter Institute at the University of Waterloo

Like the 2016 Ontario Budget, released on Feb. 25, 2016, the 2016 Federal Budget essentially reorganizes existing student financial aid provisions to provide increased up-front grants. Under the budget proposals, Canada Student Grants will increase by 50 per cent. For a low-income student, the grant amount will rise to $3,000 from $2,000. This change will cost approximately $1.53 billion, paid for largely by the elimination of The cost of the existing education and textbook tax credits. Similar changes were made in the Ontario Budget; indeed, the Ontario changes were dependent on the measures announced in the Federal fiscal plan.

The Budget contains some additional measures of note, including a “Post-Secondary Industry and Co-operative Placement Initiative” that will provide $73 million over four years to support co-op education in STEM fields. The Budget also makes a small investment – $15 million – in support for Aboriginal students in PSE.

Over the coming weeks, OCUFA will crunch the numbers to see how the new research investments will change the R&D funding picture at Ontario’s universities. Watch this space for further analysis.

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