Get this election right

by Faculty Association | Filed under September 2015.

The federal election campaign is already well under way, and the marathon will last until October 19. To help you get up to speed on crucial issues like the future of science and research in Canada, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) invites you to get all the information you need on its website here: GetScienceRight.ca.

The CAUT is asking the federal government to:

  • Restore the level of investment in Research and Development (R&D) to what was spent a decade ago to remain competitive with other developed countries. We would need to spend at least $2.5 billion of new R&D money in 2015/16 to match 2006 R&D spending in Canada.
  • Re-invest in discovery-driven research and substantially increase the base funding of the three federal research granting councils (SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR). Strong public investment in discovery-driven research will create social and economic benefits for everyone.
  • Review its science policy based on the principle that research funding decisions should be free from political or industry influence. Scientists and researchers, not CEOs and politicians, should decide who gets research funding. The federal government should create a Parliamentary Science Officer (PSO), an independent officer of the Library of Parliament who would report to the Senate and House of Commons. The PSO would provide independent advice and analysis to Parliament about the adequacy and effectiveness of the nation’s scientific policies, priorities, and funding. Canadians and their elected representatives need unbiased and non-partisan advice on science policy.
  • Re-invest in its own research programs to provide the public with reliable and independent scientific knowledge and advice, and reinstate the long form Census. Canadians face major challenges that require sound scientific solutions including those related to climate change, energy demand, public health, and drug safety. Government departments and agencies, such as Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Statistics Canada and the National Research Council (NRC) have a vital role to play in confronting these challenges, but can only do so when they are adequately funded and free to pursue their work.
  • Serve the public interest through allowing government scientists to publicly speak freely about their findings. A major survey of federal government scientists commissioned by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) found that:
    • 90% feel they are not allowed to speak freely to the media about the work they do;
    • Faced with a departmental decision that could harm public health, safety or the environment, about 86% would face censure or retaliation for doing so;
    • The survey found that nearly three out of every four federal scientists (74%) believe the sharing of scientific findings has become too restricted in the past five years;
    • Nearly the same number (71%) believes political interference has compromised Canada’s ability to develop policy, law and programs based on scientific evidence.

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