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Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

Presented by the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering

April 18, 2008

Science is a strategic resource for Canada and underpins its economic and social well-being. Research and development are performed in the public, private and academic sectors, each of which addresses different needs: strength and balance is required across all of the sectors. The new federal strategy for science and technology provides a framework for research and innovation; it also recognizes the importance of measures to encourage industrial and private sector R&D, of international leadership, of a dynamic research environment and of a repository of expertise to serve the needs of the economy. Canada must be responsive to changing priorities and relentlessly pursue scientific and technological excellence; its research establishment must be productive, innovative and adaptable.

Research in remote regions is costly but essential to environmental stewardship, sovereignty, security and knowledge of the resources and conditions of these regions. Big science initiatives represent ‘flagship’ programs and facilities, and require a sustained financial commitment. Strategic international research alliances allow Canada to position itself in the international community. They provide profile, credibility, international leadership opportunities and access to methodologies, expertise, facilities and data, that might not otherwise be accessible.

There is a need to encourage an integrated ‘systems’ approach to our science and technology endeavours that will result in value-added outcomes for our investments. We also require strong data management, analysis, and archiving capacity, in order effectively to monitor and assess changing conditions, and to stimulate the development of new technologies

We offer the following recommendations to sustain and advance Canada’s economic health and international stature.

1. Strengthen mechanisms for independent scientific advice to Government;
2. Reinvest in federal research infrastructure and science for the public good;
3. Encourage the archiving of scientific data, as a legacy for comparative purposes and analysis and as a base for future development;
4. Adopt a strategic approach to investments in big science initiatives and international science partnerships.