Our best foot forward is always to take our advocacy steps in unison with all of the sectors that comprise the health research and innovation ecosystem.
President and CEO
It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
I am not quoting the lyrics of Mohombi’s song, but rather describing what we can expect in this next session of Parliament. The Canadian political environment continues to be deeply fragmented. A handshake and smiles between the Prime Minister and the new Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada last week are not harbingers of things to come.
A recent Abacus Data poll revealed that if an election were held today, 33% would vote for the Conservative Party, 32% for the Liberal Party, 19% for the NDP and 7% for the BQ. These numbers are all within the margin of error of the results of last year’s federal election, likely sending unclear signals to the two leading parties. According to the pollster, Conservatives may wonder if what felt like positive momentum is dwindling while Liberals may wonder if what appeared to be declining support has stopped. Time will tell.
In this session of Parliament, all parties will be focused on what are increasingly becoming crisis issues. Affordability, inflation, health care and the growing impact of climate change are just a few of the issues that will capture and hold our Government and Opposition Parties’ attention. Unfortunately, with polls showing the Liberals and Conservatives neck-in-neck, there will also be a predilection for partisan histrionics in the House, distracting politicians from these critical issues and making it even harder for our community to be taken seriously. The savvy social media and communications style of Mr. Poilievre will give the Conservatives an advantage to play offence forcing the Liberals and to some extent, the NDP, to play defence. How much public policy work will be done remains to be seen, but there is no question that it will be more difficult to advocate for health research and health innovation in this session of Parliament.
Our best foot forward is always to take our advocacy steps in unison with all of the sectors that comprise the health research and innovation ecosystem. On September 29, 2022, we have invited health research and innovation ecosystem leaders to a Stakeholder Action Roundtable in Ottawa as part of an effort to align our respective messaging leading up to Budget 2023. In our view we must be focused on the following:
- Significantly increasing health research funding to the Tri-Council
- Deploying an integrated strategy to re-align federal approaches to research funding and policy, with the goal of creating enhanced efficiencies and outcomes across the innovation continuum
- Better supporting a flourishing and diversified talent base in Canada, with a focus on Indigenous researchers, Black and people of colour researchers, early-career researchers, and other underrepresented and equity-seeking groups (e.g. gender diverse).
As a community we must frame our arguments from a risk perspective. Our politicians will continue to be in crisis mode and as such, we need to warn them that the current level of federal funding for research is inadequate and does not secure or protect our citizens’ economic or social futures. We must tell them investing more is not enough. It must be done in concert with a commitment to taking a whole-of-government and whole-of-ecosystem approach that recognizes the interdependence of Canada’s research and innovation continuum. It must also be done with the recognition that if we are going to build a research talent pool worthy of Canada being a global leader in research and innovation, this pool needs to be diverse and equitable. We call upon the government to reverse its course and stop the underinvestment in research and creation of policies that undermine the partnerships and collaborative enterprise which is Canada’s health research and innovation endeavour!
The thirty years of research necessary to create the vaccines that saved us during the COVID-19 pandemic is worthy of our ask for Budget 2023. And, remember, we are not a special interest group when we engage in collaborative advocacy. We become a community working on behalf of the health and well-being of all Canadians. Like government, together, we represent the public good and nothing less!