Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Stakeholders from the university research community and parliamentarians, including Liberal MPs, are uniting this morning in the House of Commons to ensure that scientific research will not be forgotten in the next budget.

Transpartisan action in Ottawa to better fund research

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In the summer of 2022, at the initiative of the organization Support our science, students demonstrated in the streets of Montreal to demand better funding for university research and graduate students.

  • Fannie Bussières McNicoll (View profile)Fannie Bussières McNicoll

Voice synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate a spoken text from a written text.

The message that will be launched in unison by defenders of university research from different backgrounds Tuesday morning from the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa is simple: “It is urgent to substantially increase funding for the student population graduate programs in Canada. »

Why? Mainly because university research scholarships have not increased in 20 years, while inflation has jumped by more than 50% during this period.

This situation was denounced by the Standing Committee on Science and Research in a report tabled in the House of Commons at the end of 2023.

It is based on this report with unequivocal findings that this transpartisan mobilization was organized to attract the attention of the federal government and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne , ahead of the tabling of the next budget in a few weeks.

MPs from the Bloc Québécois, the NDP, but also the ruling Liberal Party, as well as representatives of the university student population from across the country and the organization Support our science, will unite their voices.

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They demand an increase in the number and value of graduate scholarships as well as better funding for university research chairs. And they hope that substantial sums will be included in the 2024 budget which must be tabled on April 16.

The president of Support Our Science and professor of biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Marc Johnson, emphasizes the crucial role in research of graduate and postdoctoral students. There are more than 300,000 of them in Canada and they are working from coast to coast to solve the important problems we face.

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Marc Johnson is a professor of biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and has actively campaigned for better funding for university research for several years.

These graduate students constitute Canada's largest workforce in research and innovation. We absolutely need them.

A quote from Marc Johnson, President of Support Our Science

The president of the Quebec Student Union (UEQ), Catherine Bibeau-Lorrain, recalls the repercussions of inaction in this area. Right now, [graduate] students are living below the poverty line and are struggling to meet their needs. This leads to the departure of some people to places where study conditions are better and where their work is valued more.

We are already experiencing the consequences, adds Bloc MP Maxime Blanchette-Joncas. When we do not improve financial support for students, the brain drain is amplified. Canada is also the only G7 country to have lost researchers since 2016, he denounces, citing a report from the U15, which brings together the major Canadian research universities.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Ryan Turnbull, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Champagne, as well as Liberal MP Lena Diab, both members of the Standing Committee on Science and Research, will take part in the 'event.

In writing, Ryan Turnbull explains that he supports the request for additional funding for university research and that he agreed to participate in the mobilization after hearing the numerous testimonies during the Committee's work.

We learned that without support for students and researchers from all levels of government and post-secondary institutions, we risk stifling the research and innovation in Canada that fuels all our industries, and we risk losing talent to other international institutions that have more to offer, he writes.

This support from Liberal MPs is an encouraging sign, according to Marc Johnson of Support Our Science. We appreciate their leadership and look forward to standing with them [at the press conference] and working with the government to translate these words into action when the next budget is tabled.

Bloc member Maxime Blanchette-Joncas is happy that these deputies are joining the ranks of the mobilization.

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Bloc MP Maxime Blanchette-Joncas from Rimouski-Neigette–Témiscouata–Les Basques is the vice-president of the Standing Committee on Research and Science in Ottawa.

It clearly shows that the issue goes beyond partisanship and it sends a very strong and clear message to the government. We cannot miss this mobilization.

A quote from Maxime Blanchette-Joncas, Bloc Québécois MP

Catherine Bibeau-Lorrain also welcomes the transpartisan mobilization and hopes that it bodes well for provoke a reaction from the government. This shows us that all parties are aware of this problem and that everyone wants to do their part to solve this underfunding. What is needed now is action.

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