In March 2010, the Quebec government announced it would be merging its three research funds to form a new organization named Fonds Recherche Québec. Following the general outcry sparked by this project in the province’s scientific community, the government has toned down its decision and confirmed that each fund will remain autonomous.
The new structure, put forward as part of the amendments made to Bill 130, sees the creation of Fonds Recherche Québec, an organization that will manage the information and administrative services as well as human resources for all three funds. Each fund will be presented as an individual section of this new organization. For example, the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec will become the Fonds Recherche Québec – Santé. However, each fund will maintain its own board of directors. One of the bill’s amendments states that “these new names […] will have no impact on the funds’ individual personalities. The funds will be free to continue their activities under their new names, with no further formality.”
A chief scientist will be appointed by the government to oversee the Fonds Recherche Québec. This person will advise the minister responsible for economic development, innovation and exports on scientific development and research, while also ensuring the integration of the three funds’ administrative services, and serving as president of their boards of directors.
Quebec’s scientific community welcomes this decision with a sigh of relief. According to Yves Gingras, who holds the Canada Research Chair in history and sociology of science at Université du Québec à Montréal, the community’s protest has prevented a change that would only have been detrimental. “Having three independent boards of directors ensures a better representation of all disciplines and a more transparent funding of our three fields of research,” says Dr. Gingras.