Volume 12, Number 13 March 4, 2005

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Federal budget maintains higher funding for university research

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale stayed the course in his Feb. 23 federal budget, continuing the government’s policy of putting increasing funding into research at the nation’s universities.

And generally the university sector applauded the move.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) said in a news release it welcomes the government’s pledge “to sustain the momentum of its research investments”.

“Universities are pleased that today’s budget recognizes the need for increased funding for federal granting councils and for the indirect costs of research,” AUCC President Claire Morris said.

The budget includes:

  • An annual increase in the budgets of the three granting councils of $75 million, made up of $32 million each for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and $11 million for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

  • A $15-million increase for indirect costs of research, taking it to $260 million per year.

  • An additional $165 million for Genome Canada.

  • $126 million over five years to the TRIUMF facility at UBC for a new Isotope Separator Accelerator.

  • $30 million to the Canadian Academies of Science, a new organization that brings together scientific experts to assess the state of knowledge in key areas.

  • Support of $20 million over five years for Precarn, a non-profit consortium early R&D on nanotechnology, intelligence systems and robotics.

  • An additional $10 million for Aboriginal Scholarships.

U of S President Peter MacKinnon, who is chair of AUCC, told University Council Feb. 24 he notes that progress is being made in getting the government to increase support for the indirect costs of research.

“This is centrally important in the lobbying efforts of AUCC, because the increase in research has placed a strain on universities across Canada,” MacKinnon said.

“We’re still well short of the desired 40 per cent of indirect costs (being funded). We are now at about 25 per cent of the costs of research.”

MacKinnon noted there is no additional money for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), but “it still has about $750 million for disbursement.”

University Health Research Co-ordinator Bruce Waygood noted to MacKinnon that much of the additional tri-council funding and the Genome Canada money won’t be available to the U of S, since it depends on matching funds from the provincial government, and those funds aren’t available.

MacKin-non agreed it’s a problem and “an area we will have to press with the provincial government”.

MacKinnon, AUCC and the U of S Students’ Union all noted that Goodale’s budget did not provide for a dedicated transfer of money from the federal government to the provinces solely for post-secondary education.

“Despite a record surplus, Prime Minister Paul Martin failed to deliver on the election promise to increase core funding for post-secondary education,” USSU President Gavin Gardiner said in a news release.

MacKinnon told Council members that a dedicated transfer would keep the funds for post-secondary education out of the general pool of money going to the provinces for social programs, “most of which go into health”. He noted the recent Rae Report on Ontario’s higher education sector supported the dedicated transfer idea, “and we hope we will see that in the future”.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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