“But let us not forget that investigator-led fundamental science develops solutions to some of our greatest challenges like pandemics and climate change. It drives our economic prosperity and productivity.”—Ms. Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, Research Canada President and CEO
Political parties are collaborating and coordinating efforts on big issues such as child and dental care and climate change, as demonstrated by the recent Supply and Confidence Agreement between the Liberals and NDP. The good news for those of us who are in the advocacy business is that this pact between these two parties may offer some stability to the government, deepening its attention span for other issues beyond those related to confidence motions.
But will these big federal strategic priorities like child and pharmacare trump the importance of our health research and innovation cause? Will fundamental science suffer the same consequences that biomanufacturing did due to a decades-long decline in this domestic industry? “Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush” is a tune that cannot help but ring in our ears.
It is heartening that the government recognizes that strategic or mission-driven science is important to support. As you may remember, Federal Budget 2021 focused on this kind of research, including increasing clinical research capacity. It is encouraging that the government is looking for ways to better align federal funding envelopes for both fundamental and strategic science. As a health research and innovation community, we cannot help but be on board with these intentions expressed in the recent Mandate Letters.
But let us not forget that investigator-led fundamental science develops solutions to some of our greatest challenges like pandemics and climate change. It drives our economic prosperity and productivity. And yet, federal investments in fundamental science have been declining for two decades! How will this build the next generation of Canadian scientists who will reinvent healthcare and protect both our health and economic security through the accumulation of fundamental knowledge we will require to meet head on the catastrophic events resulting from a planet under siege?
The newly-minted Standing Committee on Science and Research is hearing testimony about the Successes, Challenges and Opportunities for Science in Canada from a variety of the organizations which are important to this discussion; however, there are not enough organizations representing the health research and innovation community which have been asked to provide testimony. The global challenges ahead will hit human health hard and fast. We need to be ready. Therefore, this dearth in representation from our community is a very big gap. How quickly we forget the recent pandemic and our community’s answer to the call, which most likely saved millions of lives.
Research Canada has requested to appear before the Committee and we have submitted a brief. I do know a few of our Members have done the same, but I do not see them on the roster. We are making enquiries on your behalf and will return to you with further information.
All said and done, I return to the theme of the recent Supply and Confidence Agreement between the NDP and the Liberals, so I can end on a high note. In my view, it will be good for us. It will settle political anxieties within the governing party and encourage more sober thought on policy matters that concern our enterprise. It will be like a soft fleece blanket over a patch of barbed grass. At least for the time being, we will have an easier walk down the proverbial advocacy path.