There is again a substantial possibility that this year’s federal Budget will be a bad one for research: cuts to the Granting Councils are a very real possibility. Substantial cuts to in-house government science have already started, notably at Environment Canada. The context is the federal Strategic and Operating Review which required all departments to propose a departmental budget based on an overall cut of (a) 5% and (b) 10%. Final decisions will be made by senior ministers. Presumably, cuts to the Granting Councils, and/or more cuts to government science, may well be proposed under this exercise.
While this process is well underway, Minister Flaherty has talked of ‘flexibility’ in the government’s plans. Moreover, the fluid international economic outlook probably means that the government’s plans will also be fluid.
This situation is at best unclear and at worst threatening for research funding. Yet , given the economic uncertainties, the government may be open to persuasion, based on the critical importance of research to Canada’s future. It is therefore very important that the voice of the research community be heard!
If a large number of researchers makes their views known, it is not too late to have an impact! After a similar effort last year (which produced over 500 e-mails), the budget turned out to be much better for research than had been feared.