Scott Findlay takes Minister Gary Goodyear to task over his claim that “no government in the history of this country has supported science as much as this government has.” Canada's funding ranking is actually the same now as it was in 2000, but with investments increasingly at the top of the "research pyramid". Findlay outlines the government's broad assault on basic science and invites you to "weigh evidence".
As an example of how funding for basic science has changed, let's look into the numbers for the National Science and Engineering Research Council's (NSERC) Discovery Grants (DG) program. This is the program that has traditionally provided base funding for science at universities in Canada. Here are the numbers since Harper took power:
The 2012 number is from NSERC's own estimate whereas the earlier ones originate from the Treasury Board. The data show that by 2012 there was a decline of 16.3% in funding from the 2006-2009 average. When inflation is taken into account, we find that the decrease in DG funding has been a whopping 23.6%. Canada's GDP increased by almost 36% between 2006 and 2011. No wonder our scientists are so upset!
For more information on the "disquieting changes" at NSERC and why they matter to Canadian science, please see this excellent piece by Béla Joós in the January 2012 CAUT Bulletin.