Naylor Report: Improving Funding for Basic Sciences

Background

 In 2016, an advisory panel was tasked with reviewing the "federal system of supports for extramural research (i.e. you - extramural just means not "government scientist or agency" research). The focus of this review was programs that support knowledge generation (i.e. funding towards fundamental/basic science - think NSERC, CIHR, etc), as opposed to knowledge translation. The review was completed in April of 2017 (click here to view the review) and produced a report ("The Naylor Report") that gave recommendations to the federal government on how to strengthen the foundations of Canadian research. A key recommendation is to increase funding in "independent investigator-led research" instead of "priority-driven targeted research", where the choice of "priority" is selected by politicians not scientists.

 

Report Findings and Current Progress

 Overall, the recommendations addressed the issues that Canada currently faces regarding fundamental science and the report has had immense support  among scientists. However, the federal government has not acted on any of the recommendations. So, we need to convince the government to implement the recommendations and ultimately invest more in fundamental science.

 With the 2019 election coming up, we have a good opportunity to put pressure on the government to actually implement the suggested recommendations. The federal government promised to reverse the damage done by the conservative government. Let's hold them accountable to that promise and help strengthen science in Canada.

The Caucus's Plan

Since our mandate is to promote and represent the interests of MBB Graduate students, getting the government increasing investment in fundamental science (which MBB research falls under) is very relevant. Although ideally the government would invested more money in fundamental sciences from sheer goodwill, it is probably more effective to convince the government that investing in fundamental sciences provides a clear benefit to Canada. What initially came to mind was that investing in fundamental sciences creates a more skilled workforce. To help drive this point home, we want to solicit your own experiences and examples of how taking part in fundamental science research helped them gain skills that you wouldn't have otherwise. It is really important to get as many people to participate in this as possible and your letter can help make a real difference for science in Canada. I know we are all busy, but please consider taking the time to do this because every letter will help. For every constituent who makes the effort to write a letter, MPs often assume there are many more constituents who are concerned about that issue, but don't bother writing.

 We plan to compile all the letters and attach a "cover letter" that will give context to the package. This package will be sent out to local Members of Parliament, the Minister of Science, and maybe the Prime Minister.

 If the thought of your letter going to the Prime Minister scares you, please remember that Canada is a democracy. Your voice is important! The government needs to hear what you have to say and we are stronger together.

 

What we are asking of you

We need your help in this effort because more voices will have a bigger impact. There are a few options for you and please don't feel like you are limited to just one:

 (1) Write a letter -  Write a letter describing your experiences and how participating in fundamental science helped you gain skills that you wouldn't have otherwise. If you have questions or need support, please don't hesitate to ask the caucus. Send this letter (as a PDF) to the MBB grad caucus (mbb-gradcaucus@sfu.ca) with the subject line "[MBBGC] Fundamental Science Letter Submission" and we will compile all the letters we receive into one big document to send. Even a short personalized letter can have a big impact. You can also send your letter as an email to your local MP.

 (2) Write an email - Send an email to your local Member of Parliament. We have attached a template that you can use as a guide. Keep in mind that personalized letters (even super short ones) will have more impact than a generic email. You can also use this template as a guide for the letter in point. Click here to find contact information for your local MP. There are tips online for how to address emails to MPs.

 

Additional Information

 Official fundamental science review website:
 http://www.sciencereview.ca/eic/site/059.nsf/eng/home

 Talking points, slides, infographics:
 https://supportthereport.ca/resources/

 Mcleans article about it from June. I found this one easy to read:
 http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/why-canadian-scientists-arent-happy/