Federal investment sends “important signal” to universities

With the release of the federal budget, Western President Amit Chakma applauds the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister for the government’s continued commitment to research and innovation

“We appreciate the strong signal the federal government continues to send that research and innovation are important to building Canada’s future, particularly in these challenging economic times,” says Chakma.

In the budget tabled Mar. 4 by Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the federal government is promising a $1.9 billion investment in post-secondary education infrastructure, research, technology innovation and environmental protection.

“The funding commitments announced in today’s budget will allow our researchers to compete with the best in the world and help to create jobs, allowing all Canadians to prosper.”

Specific measures of importance to universities in the budget include $32 million in funding for the three research granting councils, $8 million to fund the indirect costs of research, and $45 million over five years to create 140 postdoctoral fellowships.

“The post-doctoral fellowship funding is particularly welcome news,” says Chakma. “This will enable Western and other Canadian universities to recruit and retain top scholars, the talent Canada needs to successfully compete globally.”

Chakma also says this budget shows the federal government understands the important role universities must play in creating Canada’s new economy.

The vital role universities play in Canada’s future was reiterated by the federal government’s investment in university research, says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

The 2010-11 budget includes $45 million spent over five years to establish a post-doctoral fellowship program to help attract the research leaders of tomorrow to Canada. The federal government plans to increase the combined annual budgets of the national research granting councils by an additional $32 million per year, plus an additional $8 million per year to the Indirect Costs of Research Program.

The National Research Council Canada’s regional innovation clusters program will be provided with $135 million over two years.

“This budget sends an important signal,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president and CEO. “It shows that the government recognizes the vital role universities play in creating opportunities for Canadians in the new economy.”

The AUCC says Canada’s universities will continue to work in partnership with governments and stakeholders to recruit more international students and improve access and success for Canada’s Aboriginal youth.

AUCC represents 95 Canadian public and private, not-for-profit universities and university-degree level colleges.

To view the complete budget visit http://www.fin.gc.ca/fin-eng.asp.