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Canadian Science Policy Centre | Panel 101 - Federal-Provincial Coordination in Research and Innovation Funding

Panel 101 - Federal-Provincial Coordination in Research and Innovation Funding

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 8th 2018
Takeaways and recommendations: 

Federal-Provincial Coordination in Research and Innovation Funding

Organized by: University of Toronto, Emina Veletanlic and Creso Sá, PhD

Speakers: Emina Veletanlic, University of Toronto, PhD Student, CIHE-OISE and Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Impact Centre; Dr. Marc Fortin, Vice-President, Research and Partnerships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; Dr. David Moorman, Senior Advisor, Policy & Planning, Canada Foundation for Innovation; Dr. Merli Tamtik, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, Foundations and Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba

Moderators: Dr. Creso Sá, Professor of Higher Education and Director, CIHE-OISE,

University of Toronto

Takeaways and recommendations

  • Panelists discussed a paper released in October by the Impact Centre and CIHE titled, “A Delicate Balance: Federal-Provincial/Territorial Coordination in Research and Innovation Funding”

  • Provinces and territories fund approximately 30% of post-secondary research. The current funding reality is an “uncoordinated entanglement”, with fragmented funding, too much complexity and unequal spread of funding across disciplines and institutions.

  • Coordination is a long-standing problem. Even earlier reports on Canada’s system cited this as an issue (e.g., see LeRoy and Dufour, ‘Partners in Industrial Strategy. The Special Role of the Provincial Research Organizations’, 1983).

  • Coordination is a multifaceted process. It is “messy” and “difficult to measure and track”.

  • A number of elements could be used to promote better coordination on particular policy issues, thus helping us move from talk to action:

    • Improve policy framing on issues that are shared between provincial and federal science funding organizations.

    • Include all relevant stakeholders in decision making.

    • Create a venue with opportunities for meaningful interactions.

    • Review the range and coherence of policies and consider how to ensure complementarity.

    • Examine instruments, programs and potential interventions and understand how the programs reinforce each other.

    • Create system-level instruments that oversee the efforts of the whole.

  • Coordination is a massive challenge for federal systems. Systemic barriers are inherent in the federal model: federalism codes barriers into the system through the existence of federal/provincial jurisdictions.

  • The governance of education is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution as the exclusive responsibility of the provinces, but research is not defined.

  • Vertical funding support between the provincial and federal systems is required.

  • We need to be inclusive in consulting about science policy. Science policy also lacks recognition of Indigenous systems. Colleges are often not consulted; they need to be part of the conversation.

  • Administratively, we are not rewarded for policy coordination. We must make policy coordination a priority.

  • Federal granting agencies and Health Canada should review funding programs, focus on filling any gaps, and work to promote more interdepartmental coordination.

  • There are no dedicated mechanisms to allow more effective collaboration between policy and granting research agencies.

  • The research community can be more vocal and advocate for more coordination.

  • Canada needs a strong national framework for innovation and a strategic plan. We currently have competing priorities across the country.

  • We also have to consider coordination beyond our national borders. We need to define our ambitions for science on the international stage.

  • There is also a duplication of the peer review process between provinces and federal granting agencies. The Ontario Centres of Excellence and NSERC are among those coordinating to eliminate this duplication through mechanisms that allow applicants to fill out single applications and undergo only one review process.

  • Any strategy going forward must begin with understanding how resources are currently allocated.

  • Thanks to the Fundamental Science Review, the challenges at the federal level are well known, but we still need better data on coverage gaps at the provincial and territorial levels.