On December 14th, 2021, the new Standing Committee on Science and Research (SRSR) met for the first time. Now, almost two years and 50 meetings later, the Committee has initiated nine studies and presented five reports to the House of Commons for the Government of Canada’s consideration.
The Committee’s first two studies — a report on the Successes, Challenges and Opportunities for Science in Canada (June 6, 2022), followed by one on Top Talent, Research and Innovation (October 24, 2022) — aimed to understand and make recommendations to address the challenges that Canada’s science ecosystem and workforce face. Invited experts spoke about the looming labour shortage, increasing international competition, emerging technologies (including artificial intelligence, quantum sensors, and advanced genomics), and precarious research funding, particularly for domestic and international graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and early career researchers.
Drawing on expert witness testimony, the Committee prepared a total of 26 recommendations across its first two reports. These included recommendations to review existing programs and initiatives, consider mechanisms to attract and retain top talent, and expand support for research within Canadian universities, colleges, CEGEPs, and polytechnics.
Since then, the Government of Canada has issued individual responses to each of the two reports (see below), addressing the Committee’s recommendations and highlighting efforts to tackle challenges within the research sector.
- Government Response to Report 1: Successes, Challenges and Opportunities for Science in Canada (October 4, 2022)
- Government Response To Report 2: Top Talent, Research and Innovation (February 17, 2023).
As we read the government responses, we had two questions. First, to what extent do the responses from the Government of Canada address the recommendations proposed in the first two studies by the Standing Committee on Science and Research? And second, which recommendations remain outstanding and may benefit from further advocacy?
Today, we are pleased to share our analysis of the Government of Canada’s responses to the 26 recommendations outlined in the Committee’s first two reports. To clarify the full scope of these recommendations, as well as the Government’s past, current, and proposed actions, we prepared a detailed summary table for each report (see below).
The status of each recommendation has been sorted into the following categories: resolved (i.e., the government has implemented a plan to address the recommendation), in progress (i.e., the government is developing or implementing a plan to address the recommendation), or unresolved (i.e., there is no plan to address the recommendation).
In Report 1: Successes, Challenges and Opportunities for Science in Canada, our analysis of the 13 recommendations found that eight recommendations are in progress, and five remain unresolved. There were no resolved recommendations.
In Report 2: Top Talent, Research and Innovation, our analysis of the 13 recommendations found that eight recommendations are in progress, four remain unresolved, and one is resolved.
In summary, we found the Government of Canada has made no progress on addressing a third (9 of 26) of the Committee’s recommendations, and only a single recommendation was resolved.
Note: there have been numerous developments since the Government of Canada’s responses to the Committee’s two reports. In October 2022, the Government established an external Advisory Panel of Modernizing the Federal Research Support System to review and recommend improvements to the federal research support system. The Report by the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System was publicly released on March 20, 2023. Budget 2023 was released shortly thereafter (March 28, 2023), but did not result in meaningful investment in science and research, nor did it address many of the recommendations issued by the reports mentioned above. The budget noted that more details would be released regarding the recommendations put forth by the Advisory Panel in the coming months. Finally, the Standing Committee has recently completed their study of the Government of Canada’s Graduate Scholarship and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Programs, and is beginning to draft a report with recommendations.
Matthew Robbins (PhD) is a Special Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. Hannah Shuster-Hyman is a PhD student in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. Monica Vaillancourt is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at McGill University. Leanna Kalinowski is a Master of Public Health student in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo. Yuan Chao (Tim) Xue (PhD) is a Research and Innovation Manager for Genome British Columbia. Caitlin Fowler (PhD) was previously the Senior Research Associate at Evidence for Democracy. Farah Qaiser (MSc) was previously the Director of Research and Policy at Evidence for Democracy.