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Ontario government looking for its first chief scientist

The province becomes the second in Canada, after Quebec, to create such a role.

BY ANQI SHEN | AUG 30 2017

The government of Ontario is recruiting its first ever chief scientist. The job posting for the role, which will report to Minister of Research, Innovation and Science Reza Moridi and will advise Premier Kathleen Wynne on key issues, went up earlier this month and closes on September 11.

The chief scientist will promote science in policy making and advise the government on how to support research and innovation projects in Ontario, according to the job description. Seeking “a bold thinker and interdisciplinary leader,” the province is looking for someone who will “promote the value of science” and “help increase public trust in science.”

Ontario is the second Canadian province to create such a role. In Quebec, Rémi Quirion has been chief scientist since the position was created in 2011. Dr. Quirion was formerly the scientific director of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Research Centre and a professor of psychiatry at McGill University.

The federal government is also looking for a chief science advisor. It launched its search on December 5, 2016, with an application deadline of January 27, 2017, which was subsequently extended to February 13. “The hiring process for recruiting a national chief science advisor is still underway,” according to officials in the office of Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan.

The Quebec and federal models were taken into consideration for the chief scientist’s mandate in Ontario, as were similar advisory positions in countries including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, United States, Ireland, and Israel, according to Minister Moridi’s office.

The Ontario government first announced the position in June 2016 when, as part of a cabinet shuffle, the Ministry of Research and Innovation added science to its mandate. This past March, the province held public consultations over a two-week period to help shape the mandate and responsibilities of the chief scientist, formerly titled chief science officer. An executive recruitment firm, The Four Corners Group, was then hired to conduct an international search based on this feedback. According to a government website, many respondents suggested that an external science advisory council also be created to assist the chief scientist, as has been done in the U.K., New Zealand and Quebec.

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