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Margin Notes

Federal budget highlights

There were some positive items for postsecondary education and research, but also a major planned review of research funding.


There will obviously be lots of analysis in the coming days of the federal budget, delivered yesterday. One of the things that immediately caught my eye was Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s pledge to conduct a “comprehensive review of all federal support for R&D to improve its contribution to innovation and to economic opportunities for business.”

Depending on one’s point of the view, this could be timely and welcome … or ominous.

But, in general, considering it was billed as a tight budget for tight times, there were a number of positive items for higher education and research. Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said in a press release, “It shows that the government recognizes the vital role universities play in creating opportunities for Canadians in the new economy.”

But that sentiment wasn’t shared by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which called the budget a “major disappointment” for postsecondary education. James Turk, CAUT president, also took umbrage at the budget initiatives aimed at promoting the commercialization of postsecondary research: “This threatens the integrity of research and the independence and quality of education, and in the long term this will also work against real innovation.”

Here are the main highlights, taken directly from the budget documents:

The research granting councils

Budget 2010 increases the annual budgets of the three granting councils by an additional $32 million per year, starting in 2010–11. This new funding will enable the councils to sustain their overall support for research. The new resources for the councils will be allocated as follows:

  • $16 million for CIHR;
  • $13 million for NSERC including $8 million  per year to strengthen its support for advanced research, and $5 million per year to foster closer research collaborations between academic institutions and the private sector through NSERC’s Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation;
  • $3 million per year to support world-leading research in the social sciences and humanities.


Indirect Costs Program

Budget 2010 also provides an additional $8 million per year to the Indirect Costs of Research Program. This enhanced funding will help institutions support the additional research activities enabled by the new resources provided to the federal granting councils through Budget 2010.


Post-doctoral Fellowship Program

Budget 2010 provides $45 million over five years to the granting councils to establish a new and prestigious post-doctoral fellowships program to attract top-level talent to Canada. The proposed new post-doctoral fellowship program will be designed to be internationally competitive. These fellowships will be valued at $70,000 each per year for two years. The first fellowships will be awarded in 2010–11. At maturity, the new program will fund 140 fellowships annually.


Genome Canada

Budget 2010 provides Genome Canada with an additional $75 million in 2009–10 to launch a new targeted research competition focused on forestry and the environment and sustain funding for the regional genomics innovation centres.


Canadian High Arctic Research Station

Canada’s Economic Action Plan laid the groundwork for delivering on the Government’s commitment to build a world-class Canadian High Arctic Research Station by providing $2 million over two years for a feasibility study for the proposed facility. Budget 2010 is taking a further step by providing $18 million over five years to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to commence the pre-construction design phase for the station.


Budget 2010 provides $126 million over five years to strengthen the world-leading research taking place at TRIUMF. In combination with $96 million to be provided from existing resources of the National Research Council Canada, federal support for TRIUMF’s core operations will total $222 million over the next five years.


Rick Hansen Foundation

Budget 2010 provides $9 million over two years to support the Rick Hansen Foundation, including the 25th anniversary of the Man in Motion Tour and the new Rick Hansen Institute. This funding will contribute to advancing knowledge and research that will improve the lives of people suffering from spinal cord injuries in Canada and abroad.


National Research Council Canada Regional Innovation Clusters

The National Research Council regional innovation clusters program supports 11 technology clusters across all 10 provinces. These cluster initiatives support the development of dynamic Canadian firms, generate jobs and transform local economies. Budget 2010 provides $135 million over the next two years ($68 million in 2010-11 and $67 million in 2011-12).

Diversifying the supply of medical isotopes

Budget 2010 provides $35 million over two years ($19 million in 2010-11 and $29 million in 2011-12) to Natural Resources Canada to support research and development of new technologies for the production of isotopes. An additional $10 million over two years will be provided to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for a clinical trials network to help move research on isotopes and imaging technologies into clinical practice, and $3 million over two years will be provided to Health Canada to work with stakeholders to optimize the use of medical isotopes in the health system.


Canadian Space Agency

Budget 2010 provides the Canadian Space Agency with $397 million over five years to work with the Canadian space industry to develop the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, the next generation of advanced radar remote sensing satellites. Together with $100 million from existing resources of the Canadian Space Agency, $497 million will be invested over five years in advanced research, technology development and construction associated with the Constellation Mission. The bulk of this spending will occur after 2011–12. ($5 million in 2010-11 and $18 million in 2011-12)

International Science and Technology Partnerships

Budget 2010 will provide $8 million over two years ($4 million per year) to extend the International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP). The ISTPP was launched to promote collaborative research and development activities with international partners such as India, China and Brazil.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Budget 2010 will provide Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) with $19 million per year, ongoing starting in 2010–11. This funding will allow the agency to extend the Atlantic Innovation Fund, a competitively allocated initiative that helps regional businesses, universities and research institutions to develop and commercialize new technologies, builds research capacity and encourages the creation of research and development partnerships.

Advancing the digital economy

The Government will develop a Digital Economy Strategy that will enable the ICT sector to create new products and services, accelerate the adoption of digital technologies, and contribute to improved cyber security practices by industry and consumers.

Canada Foundation for Innovation

Through Budget 2009, the Government committed to provide the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) with additional funding of $750 million. Of the funding announced in Budget 2009, the CFI has already committed $150 million to 28 exceptional projects through its 2009 competition. The balance of $600 million will support the Foundation’s future activities, including a new competition to be launched by December 2010. The CFI is finalizing its strategic plan, and remains committed to making strategic investments in current and new infrastructure. The Minister of Industry will provide additional details on the allocation of the $600 million in the coming months.


Aboriginal Canadians

The Government will engage in a new approach to providing support to First Nations and Inuit post-secondary students to ensure that students receive the support they need to attend postsecondary education. The new approach will be effective and accountable, and will be coordinated with other federal student support programs.

Pathways to Education Canada

Budget 2010 provides $20 million for Pathways to Education Canada to partner with the private sector, other governments and non-governmental organizations and work with communities in support of disadvantaged youth. This funding will enable Pathways to extend its reach to more young Canadians who are facing barriers to their pursuit of post-secondary education.

Supporting College Innovation

Through Budget 2010, the Government is doubling the budget of the College and Community Innovation Program (CCIP) by providing an additional $15 million per year starting in 2010–11. The new resources will support additional collaborative projects in colleges across the country, strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses through innovation.

Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau is a former editor of University Affairs.
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  1. Jo VanEvery / March 5, 2010 at 10:39

    Ron Annan tweeted something comparing the 2010 budget to 2009. Apparently there were 2 year cuts to tri-council in the 2009 budget. So is this money for the tricouncils NEW money or rollback of some of the proposed cuts or what?

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