This is a huge win for science and evidence in Canada. You'll be able to hear more from scientists directly on TV, the radio, and in print, talking about their expertise, research, and scientific findings - this is so important in our era of post-truth and fake news. This win ensures that federal scientists can speak to the public about their research, and makes it harder for this (or future governments) to muzzle scientists. This is essential for making sure that Canadians have access to the important public research paid for by their own tax dollars.
In March 2016, we sent an open-letter to the Prime Minister, Minister Bains, and Minister Duncan. Over 5,500 Canadians joined the open letter, calling for scientists' right to speak to be enshrined in collective agreements.
Read more about our past campaign below:
Government scientists do the important public-interest research that is essential for keeping Canadians safe, healthy and prosperous. It is this research that monitors our air quality, makes sure our food supply is safe, and evaluates the health and status of our iconic wildlife species.
This essential research needs to be free from political interference and openly communicated to the public, media and policy makers.
Since being elected in October, the Liberal government has acted quickly to support the open communication of scientific information to the public. Yet, the scale of communication restriction under the previous government has left a legacy of draconian communication policies in many departments.
It is clear that the federal government supports scientific integrity, but the policies and infrastructure are not yet in place to support it. Science needs to be safeguarded from future attacks and new policies are needed to clarify the rules for government scientists, protect the integrity of their research and make it harder for future governments to muzzle scientists.
It’s time for the government to safeguard science integrity by ensuring that the right to speak and a commitment to science integrity are included in the collective agreements for government scientists, and that a formal Science Integrity Policy is developed and implemented in all science-based departments. This follows a similar model of science integrity policies implemented in the U.S. under President Obama.
A broad science integrity policy would go beyond just ensuring that government science is open to the public. A comprehensive policy would include measures to ensure:
- The right for scientists to speak out publicly about science and their research;
- The public release of scientific information in a timely manner;
- The right of last review for scientists to ensure that their work is not being misrepresented in communications documents;
- Safeguards against scientific misconduct; and
- Protection from undue commercial influence.
Enshrining these principles in the collective agreement would go a long way to protect and improve the ability of public scientists to do good science for the benefit of all Canadians.
Act now to safeguard science from future attacks - add your name to our open letter calling for science integrity to be added to collective bargaining agreements for federal government scientists, and for formal science integrity policies to be implemented at science-based departments.
The joint letter was sent by E4D and The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal science ministers Kirsty Duncan and Navdeep Bains.