Fundamental Science Panel sets bold vision for Canadian research system

April 10, 2017

OTTAWA, April 10, 2017 — Today’s landmark report on fundamental science proposes a compelling plan to strengthen the contributions of Canada’s research system, with unprecedented attention to the vital role of the humanities and social sciences.

“This remarkably thoughtful report has laid out a comprehensive vision to improve and transform Canada’s research ecosystem and position us as a global research leader,” said Stephen Toope, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. “The report successfully conveys the urgency and ambition with which Canada must leverage excellence across all research disciplines to take on the complex challenges of today and tomorrow.”

The report was prepared by an independent advisory panel chaired by David Naylor, former President of the University of Toronto and was commissioned by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan in June 2016. The panel concluded that Canada must urgently increase both resources and aspirations for research if it is to seize “the leadership moment” to advance excellence and impact in Canadian research.

The report calls for balance across all research disciplines as a foundational principle for funding and recognizes the significant contributions that the humanities and social sciences make to Canada’s ability to thrive in the 21st century. It urges cumulative increases to the base funding of the federal research granting councils and other key research entities to reach annual spending of $4.8 billion by 2022, phased in over four years—up from an annual $3.5 billion at present.

The first priority is to increase funding for independent, investigator-led research. Notably, there is a call to reassess the balance of allocations across the granting councils as an early priority, given evidence that program changes have significantly diminished funding opportunities for scholars in the humanities and social sciences. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council currently receives just 15 percent of federal investments in the granting councils.

Also significant is the report’s emphasis on increasing support to diversity in research — not only across disciplines, but among researchers at all career stages, and with greater attention to gender equity and participation of visible minorities, reinforcing excellence as fully compatible with diversity. The report specifically calls on the granting councils to develop a strategy to bolster and provide long-term support for research undertaken by and with Indigenous communities, guided by recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Other important recommendations and priorities of the report are to address new forms of support for multidisciplinary and international funding, and to ensure greater coordination and collaboration among the granting councils.

“The panel has shown remarkable vision in its recommendations,” added Toope. “We thank all panel members for undertaking this important work. The Federation looks forward to engaging Canadians over the next months in an important conversation about the need to step up our research efforts – and about the value that humanities and social sciences research delivers to the country.”


About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. 

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Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
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