You report researchers’ concerns about the Canadian government’s support for science in two recent News stories (Nature 457, 646; 2009 and Nature 458, 393; 2009). As Minister of State for Science and Technology, I can say that, despite the global economic situation, the government of Canada remains committed to innovation and discovery. We have increased funding to researchers, both in universities and in the private sector.
In the past three years, for example, we have significantly increased the budgets of federal granting councils, increased scholarships through the Canada Graduate Scholarships Program, and increased the Industrial Research Assistance Program for small and medium-sized businesses. The Budget 2009 announcements include Can$750 million (US$590 million) for the Canada Foundation for Innovation to attract and retain world-leading researchers, and a Can$2-billion infrastructure programme. The government has also put in place two five-year funding agreements with Genome Canada that are worth Can$240 million, to support large-scale, world-class research.
Your readers should therefore rest assured that the government of Canada will continue to fund research for the benefit of all scientists and Canadians.
Genome Canada, a not-for-profit organization, has pulled its support for an international stem-cell consortium.
The International Regulome Consortium, which involves 12 countries and aims to understand the regulatory networks that guide cell behaviour, expected Genome Canada to provide Can$20 million (US$16 million) over 5 years towards the Can$80-million project.
Genome Canada’s head Martin Godbout says that the organization decided not to continue its support after an interim review of the project’s science, management and budget recommended substantial changes. The consortium head, Michael Rudnicki, says that the decision was made because the organization lacked the funds after receiving no money in Canada’s 2009 federal budget (see Nature 457, 646; 2009).
“This is about the conservative government failing to support science,” he says. Rudnicki says he is working to organize funding and revamp the structure so that the consortium can continue.