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Funding for Scientific Research Marks New Canadian Federal Budget

SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, congratulates Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration for recognizing the importance of funding scientific research

07 March 2018

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA and CARDIFF, UK - On February 27, the Canadian federal government released its annual budget, including a nearly-$4 billion (US $3.1 billion) increase in funding for science over the next five years, and a sizeable amount of the funding will go directly to Canada's three granting councils, a critical recognition on behalf of the government of the importance of fundamental research. According to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the new budget represents "the single largest investment in investigator-led fundamental research in Canadian history."

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council will both receive $354.7 million (Canadian), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will receive $215.5 million. Another $275 million will be allocated to the three councils together to support "international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and higher-risk" research, and most of this funding will be directed at early and mid-career researchers. This budgetary boost for fundamental research contrasts strongly with previous years' budgets which focused on funding for specific research projects. In addition, $21 million will be directed to increase diversity in science.

"This unprecedented single investment in fundamental research is welcome news for Canadian university researchers after a decade-long drought in federal research funding," said Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research at the University of Ottawa. "It will bolster support for leading-edge research and for training the next generation of scientists and innovators as the pace of global competition continues to accelerate."

"Recognition of the importance of science in the form of substantive government funding for research in that area is critical to a progressive society," says SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "The generous funding in this budget, along with the specific acknowledgement of early and mid-career researchers, marks a positive and inspiring leap on the part of the Canadian government. Governments often talk about the importance of science, of the critical need to supporting the sciences, but don't necessarily act on those statements. As former U.S Vice President Joe Biden said, 'Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.' Canada has certainly shown it values science and its aspiring scientists."

In 2016, SPIE collaborated with the Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium and provided $20,000 in funding to help with the CPIC report on the national photonics industry, "Light Technologies: A Strategic Economic Asset."

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2017, SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. www.spie.org.

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