Here is an in-depth look at some of the larger issues at play and the fields of research at risk if the Government of Canada does not listen and Get Science Right.
Government’s Offloading of Canadian Science is a Losing Strategy
The Harper Government’s neoliberal pursuit of a smaller bureaucracy has resulted in its off-loading of scientific endeavors. There are many examples where the government has withdrawn support from scientific research and left NGOs and individuals to step in to fill the void (see a list of some examples at the end of this article).
This may sound like a win-win situation: the research continues but the government no longer foots the bill. But there are very serious down-sides to off-loading science onto communities and non-governmental organizations.
When the government backs out of supporting science it erodes the stability of the Canadian science, jeopardizes safety and security, and threatens Canada’s long-term prosperity.
Paul Snelgrove – Communication and Science
In this article Paul Snelgrove discusses the importance of transparent open communication to science and to the ability of science to help society. He also writes about his experience as an academic working with government scientists who were unable to speak publicly about their research.
Overview of the First Eleven Town Halls (2013-2014): themes and issues
This article gives an overview of the first town halls. Find included a comprehensive list of town halls, moderators, panelists, and institutions represented.
Lights Out on Canadian Space Science
Though Canada has a long and proud history of making significant contributions to space science, current government policies are putting into jeopardy our ability to continue to contribute in this field.
Jim Clark – Challenges and Lack of Support: career track of today’s academic researchers
Canada’s failure to support its scientists is undermining our future, and the situation will only get worse unless universities large and small can encourage the granting councils and the government to abandon policies that leave so many current and future researchers unfunded and that cast a dark shadow over science as a career for bright young Canadians.
Glenn Chapman – Basic Research Funding: Where the Money Goes
Scientists and engineers often push back against research funding cuts by showing the many ways curiosity driven research has benefited the world over the long term, and exposing the very real dangers of neglecting scientific study. Yet it is also important to ask those urging cutting research funds: “Where do you think that money is spent?” What most people do not recognize is that in many fields almost all those research grant funds are spent supporting graduate students, our next generation of researchers and high tech entrepreneurs.
Donna Wilson – Reduced Support for Health Care Research
“Commercially viable research and research that supports business interests are two areas that have had preferential funding in recent years. Basic research studies that are needed for the future development of health care policy have suffered from this redirection of research funds to only a few select areas that have the potential for an immediate return on investment. In addition, research topics that are not of interest to commercial or business interests are being starved. For example, bereavement services research that is needed to help people recover following the death of a loved one, a topic of growing importance as the number of annual decedents will double in the next 10-20 years, is another area that is now largely unfunded.”
Ross Klein – Research with No Hope of Funding
“My area of research is the international cruise ship industry, specifically the risk factors associated with cruise ship travel. This research is extremely relevant and helpful to Canadians, who spend over a billion dollars a year on cruise ship vacations. However, because this research does not have direct commercial value – and is often critical of the cruise ship industry – it has little hope of receiving funding from federal government granting councils. This is due in no small part to our government’s focus on funding research that has commercial application or serves the needs of industry.”
David DeVidi – Negative effects that reach beyond “hard science”
Other researchers and scientists have spoken out about the harmful implications for the long-term interests of the country of de-funding basic, curiosity-driven research, more eloquently than I could. So I’d like to focus on other parts of the story.
This isn’t only a “hard science” problem. Canada’s ability to do the sorts of research that must be done in any society interested in intelligently governing itself is being compromised. The ill-considered changes at Library and Archives Canada – involving the elimination of research specialists, loss of the comprehensive collection, and increases in researcher costs – are making it more difficult for historians to do their work.
Established in 1968, the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) has served as the world’s only outdoor, whole-ecosystem laboratory devoted to freshwater research.
Work done by thousands of scientists over the years has contributed to Canada’s and the world’s understanding of acid rain, greenhouse gases, mercury pollution, and algal blooms. The ELA has been awarded numerous prestigious international research awards.
Muzzling Public Science
Science in Canada has become politicized.
Federal government scientists’ communications with the public are tightly controlled and discouraged. Scientists in some departments must receive approval before submitting studies to journals for publication.
Obscuring pertinent science and silencing experts—either by impeding publication of research or inhibiting scientists from explaining their work to the general public—diminishes informed public debate, sound public policy, and the free-flow of information necessary for scientific progress. The Canadian government must unmuzzle its scientists.