Liberals announce 25 per cent increase to research spending in 2018 budget

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Principal Daniel Woolf says investment will “revitalize research and scholarship in Canada.”

Parliament Hill. 
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On Feb. 27, the federal Liberals revealed a 25 per cent increase to research spending in their 2018-19 budget. As a result, the Trudeau government has committed sizeable grants for health, science and the humanities over the next half decade.

The budget pledges $925 million over five years to Canada’s three major research-granting councils. The budget also committed $275 million for higher risk research.

The investments represent a 25 per cent increase in “fundamental research” spending in relation to current levels by 2021. 

Coincidentally, the budget was revealed during a Queen’s monthly Senate meeting. Principal Daniel Woolf interjected at Senate to announce the news, which was met with positivity from members of faculty and administration. 

On the same day, Principal Woolf released a statement in The Gazette, in which he claimed the investment will “revitalize research and scholarship in Canada.”

“On behalf of Queen’s University, I applaud the Government of Canada for its significant investments in fundamental research through Budget 2018,” the statement read. “Overall, Budget 2018 contains nearly $4 billion in new investments to support Canadian research including but not limited to the tri-councils.”  

Woolf also pointed to the budget including support for “crucial research laboratories and infrastructure,” through an investment of $763 million over five years in the Canada Foundation for Innovation. “This will result in permanent funding for the foundation of $462 million per year by 2023,” the statement continued.

When reached for comment, Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen (Kingston & the Islands) told The Journal that “for the numerous undergraduate, masters, and PhD students at Queen’s who are seeking practical opportunities, a 25 per cent increase in research funding is welcome news.”

“[This budget] will increase student employment rates today, enhance their competitiveness when seeking jobs in the future, and provide them with valuable tools to grow our economy. Specifically, the government has allocated $1.2 billion to granting institutions so that they can support about 8000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students and 1300 postdoctoral students,” Gerretsen wrote.

In addition, Gerrestsen pointed to the 2018 budget’s $448.5 million investment in the Canada Summer Jobs Program. “With Queen’s being one of three major post-secondary institutions in Kingston, the competition for summer student employment can be steep. This investment in Canada Summer Jobs will double the number of positions offered under the program, and allow more students to pay for their education, gain necessary work experience, and help them find and keep full-time jobs after graduation,” Gerrestsen wrote.

In his statement, Principal Woolf thanked Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and Finance Minister Bill Morneau for the budget contribution and “for recognizing the importance of research to the prosperity of Canada and to the well-being of Canadians,” Woolf wrote. “We look forward to working with government in the coming years on ways to further strengthen research in Canada.”

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