Summary of past PAGSE recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance 

PAGSE submits a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) each year to provide consensus views from the S&T research community on policy issues and initiatives. Prior to 2000, PAGSE has strongly supported such government initiatives as the creation of CFI, the Canada Research Chairs, and the CIHR, and the Sustainable Development Technology Fund and the Canada Graduate Scholarships. Since 2000, PAGSE’s briefs have made recommendations that can be broadly grouped under four headings:

• Governance gaps in S&T research in Canada
• Support for university-based S&T research
• Support for S&T students and young scientists
• Support for S&T research in industry
• Support for S&T research in government

Governance gaps in S&T Research in Canada
• The creation of a high level interface between government and S&T research in the form of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology (S&T), an Office of S&T located in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), or a PMO Office of Science and Innovation
• The creation of National Academies of Canada or Canadian Academies of Science
• The establishment of a mechanism for setting national priorities for S&T research in Canada
• The establishment of a standardised peer review protocol for research in government science-based agencies
• The creation of International Innovation/Opportunities Funds in order to open domestic S&T research to facilities not yet available within Canada
• Formulation of a new, forward-looking national S&T framework

Support for university-based S&T research
• Increased support for university-based research, with particular emphasis on the funding levels and multi-year commitments to granting agencies (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) and CFI
• Facilitation of the commercialisation of university research, where appropriate
• Increased support for the indirect costs of university-based research
• The creation of an industry-driven Tri-agency Cluster Development program to better support trailblazers and “leaders of tomorrow”

Support for S&T students and young scientists
• Replacement of a substantial proportion of student loans by a system of grants for those who work in Canada after graduation
• Creation of a program to support 600 postdoctoral fellowships that could be held in universities or in industry, especially SMEs
• Increased pre- and post-doctoral stipends, including for industry placements
• Increased participation of 25-64 year olds in post-secondary education to 50% by 2010
• Evaluation of efforts to increase admissions to post-graduate programs, in order to ensure that they are well directed to areas of fruitful employment

Support for S&T research in industry
• Increased government support explicitly targeted at S&T research in industry
• Fostering the high-tech advantage of Canada’s resource industries
• Increased R&D support levels, provision of R&D funding and expertise for small and medium size enterprises (SME’s), and increased availability of venture capital
• The foundation of a prestigious annual award to recognise internationally competitive innovators in the private sector
• Fiscal encouragement of the formation of public-private research consortia
• Creation of a new Tri-Council Cluster Development Program, led by industry
• Implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Commercialization

Support for S&T research in government
• Adequate A-base budgets to the relevant governmental departments for continuous scientific monitoring
• Adequate support for scientific research in the vast isolated areas of Canada
• Commission an external review of the roles, functions, assets and deficiencies related to research and development (R&D) in federal government laboratories

Government Actions
PAGSE’s recommendations have been in tune with a number of recent actions and policy statements by the government of Canada concerning S&E research:
• Commitment to funding for indirect costs of university research (2002)
• Increased funding to granting councils (2003)
• Increased funding for indirect costs (2003)
• Creation of the position of Science Advisor to the Prime Minister (2004)
• Creation and funding of the Canadian Academies of Science (2004)
• Steps toward the creation of a student grant program (2004)
• Recognition of the need for support for the commercialisation of university-based research (2004)
• Establishment and funding of the Canadian Academies of Science (2005)

PAGSE- sponsored studies
With the aid of external funds, PAGSE also sponsors independent studies of important issues for S&T in Canada.

“Setting Priorities for Research in Canada” (2000), by SECOR
The study found that “Most organisations were simply not interested in how priorities ought to be established nationally”, and that there is poor fit between research priorities of universities and those of firms. Most importantly, broad S&T research priorities are set with little public debate. It recommended that Government should establish a foresight and priorities panel to ensure that investments are being made in research for the economic needs of the country, linked to industrial sector needs, and for social benefit.

“Socio-Economic Importance of Scientific Research to Canada“, written by David A. Wolfe and Ammon Salter (1999), which highlighted the difficulty of performing quantitative evaluations of the socio-economic benefits that derive directly from science. However, it concluded that there were many qualitative examples that demonstrated that they do. It also examined the instruments used by government and the financial sector to support research and its commercialisation.