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Asserting that knowledge, research and innovation are the main drivers of the Canadian economy, the country’s conservative government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, unveiled a budget plan titled A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth on 22 March 2011. The plan calls for major funding increases in Canada’s higher education and research sectors.
The proposal, which is the second phase of the minority government’s initiative to foster research and innovation (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2010) augments the higher education and research sectors by
Nevertheless, the current political battle in the Canadian Parliament might alter the course of the budget plan. On Friday 25 March, Canada’s three main opposition parties – the Liberal Party, Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party (NDP) – gave a vote of no confidence to the minority Conservative government, signalling a general election in early May 2011.
Meanwhile, major funding changes are under way for the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). NRC President, John McDougall, has issued a directive which restructures the way money is allocated by the government’s largest research organisation. As of spring 2011, the NRC president and vice presidents will have the authority to direct 20% of all research funding toward activities they find most promising. This re-allocation of funds is a major step in the Council’s plan to decrease the emphasis on basic research and focus on more applied, industry-driven research, which NRC’s top management believes can further drive the country’s marked economic and social growth.
Ministry of Finance – Canada