Increase investments to fundamental science

Canada is falling behind on investments in fundamental science and research. At just 1.5 per cent in 2019,  spending on research and development as a share of gross domestic product puts Canada second to last among our G7 peers, and well below the OECD average[1]. Insufficient  federal investments for  science and research over the last twenty years means that vitally important research and discovery knowledge cannot be done as researchers compete for a limited  pool of money. Without renewed investment, Canada risks the long-term viability of our research and scientific capacity,  and falling even further behind in our ability to attract and retain scientists.

Canadians look to our scientists and researchers for the information and tools necessary to guide us through this pandemic and address the social, economic, and environmental challenges of tomorrow. Yet a survey of CAUT members demonstrated that 64% of academic staff say their research has slowed or stalled completely because of the pandemic.[2] This hiatus in research work will have significant downstream impacts on the innovation and knowledge that supports Canadians’s health, social well-being, and economic security.

This pandemic has also emphasized that, as a country and a global partner, we need research infrastructure – including physical and human resources – ready at any given moment to respond to crises that arise. We simply cannot develop solutions to our country's challenges without having highly trained and well-supported researchers alongside laboratories, equipment, tools, and a working knowledge base.

How can the federal government make up the investment shortfalls to ensure our scientists and researchers are supported in their work?

The final report from the Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science, released in 2017, provides the blueprint. The report included a full review of our research community  and comprehensive analysis of the erosion of Canada’s capacity for basic research. In doing so, the report included recommendations to increase base funding for Canada’s three research granting agencies  (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) from $3.5 billion to $4.8 billion over four years.

Despite increases in Budget 2018, there remains a shortfall of approximately 40 per cent of  the levels recommended by the Advisory Panel – a gap of $300 million per year.

Funding Shortfalls Relative to Advisory Panel Recommendations







Budget 2018 investment






Advisory Panel recommendation






Percentage of Panel recommendation funded






Total amounts are expressed in millions

Our solution

Accelerate funding for fundamental science and research.

Ottawa must return to the Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science recommendations and make stronger investments in research and fundamental science. These investments must also include annual increases to the Tri-Councils granting programs until Canada reaches funding that falls proportionally in line with other G7 countries. This funding will increase the sustainability of Canada’s  research capacity and contribute to a healthier and more equitable quality of life  it for all Canadians.

  • Increase funding to the Tri-Council granting bodies by $600 million, with $185 million per year ongoing

[1] OECD. Gross domestic spending on R&D (indicator). (2021) doi: 10.1787/d8b068b4-en

[2] Canadian Association of University Teachers. “The impacts of COVID-19 on Post-Secondary Education Staff.” (2020)