Friday, 19 August 2011

Canadian Association of Physicists submits a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance
this is a must read document. From the Executive Summary:
"1. That the federal government augment the Granting Councils' budgets by a modest 5%, directed to their programs that support basic research. Cost about $120M p.a. 
2. That the proposed savings from the reduction in the Canada Graduate Scholarships program be used to fund doctoral scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships in universities and industry, by re-directing the funds to the existing Granting Council programs. Cost $17.5M p.a., funding for example 415 doctoral students and 250 postdoctoral fellowships each year. 
3. At a time when the federal government, like many others, is aggressively pursuing reductions in spending, that Canada emulate many European governments3 by recognizing the unique importance of government science and ensuring that all essential government research programs are funded appropriately to meet their mandates." ....
"What about government-funded large-scale research infrastructure? Government provides scientific infrastructure (and the expertise to operate it), which is used by multiple organizations. For example, the
Chalk River NRU reactor is an essential tool for universities and industry, including aerospace, automotive and manufacturing. Advanced materials characterization, using methods invented at Chalk River and adopted around the world, facilitates development of safer, more reliable, and less expensive products, improves Canada’s competitiveness, and opens new markets. Other large publicly-funded capabilities, vital for Canada’s competitiveness, include intense X-rays at the Canadian Light Source, muon beams for materials characterization at TRIUMF, and various metallurgical facilities at the CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory."...

"In summary: Our future depends on greatly improving Canadian innovation. Basic academic research (necessarily funded by government) in physics and other areas is a crucial driver of innovation, particularly as Canadian industry’s in-house R&D spending is modest. Canadian and foreign experts agree on the importance of increasing support for basic research. Just the academic companies spun-off from Canadian basic research much more than repay the government funding. Basic research and highly trained personnel
are the bright spots in Canadian innovation -- we must continue to nurture and grow them, at the same time as encouraging more applied efforts. We must also take great care not to lose critically important research capabilities within government itself."

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