OTTAWA (February 4, 2014) –
The federal government is soliciting feedback on their consultation paper – Seizing Canada’s moment: moving forward in science, technology and innovation – to inform a revised science, technology and innovation strategy to be released later this year. This will update a strategy adopted in 2007 entitled Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.
“Most of the questions posed in the consultation paper are focused on business innovation,” said Dr. Scott Findlay, Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa. “While business innovation is certainly important for our economic prosperity, many other aspects of Canadian science are equally important for the long-term well-being of Canadians.”
The consultation paper makes no reference to science and technology development by government agencies and departments other than those related to business. Any comprehensive federal science strategy must also include research that provides unbiased knowledge for the benefit of all Canadians. This includes medical research, environmental monitoring and other research required for the federal government to adequately execute their legal, fiduciary and regulatory functions that depend on scientific information.
“We know that responsible resource development is a priority for this government, yet the existing strategy and consultation paper focus only on the science needed to develop resources, not the science needed to protect human health and the environment.” said Dr. Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy. “We need to invest in both to ensure that our resource development is truly responsible.”
The current strategy is also entirely silent about federal support for basic research.
“Supporting basic research is not identified as a priority for Canadian science, yet basic research is at the heart of all innovation, whatever form they take.” said Dr. Roger Croll, Professor in the Department of Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Dalhousie University. “No basic research, no innovation: it’s that simple.”
Evidence for Democracy recommends that the revised science, technology and innovation strategy should:
- recognize the need to foster innovation in the public interest as well as business innovation;
- restore federal government science capacity and identify strategies to ensure it flourishes;
- include a clear and explicit communication policy permitting government scientists to communicate their science freely and openly; and
- reinvest in basic research.
You can find the complete submission from Evidence for Democracy at www.evidencefordemocracy.ca/st.