Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Esteemed committee members, thank you for the opportunity to be here on the occasion of the tabling of the main estimates for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Science research and evidence-based decision-making matter. They matter more than ever as the voices that seek to undermine science, evidence and fact continue to grow.
Canadians understand that science and research lead to a better environment—cleaner air, cleaner water—new medical treatments or cures, stronger communities, and new and effective technologies.
Our talented researchers and students are developing robotic devices to help people recover from strokes and injuries, making it easier for seniors and persons with disabilities to lead fully independent lives.
Researchers are also developing vaccines and technologies to combat infectious diseases.
Canadians understand that science and research are essential to innovation and to the foundations of a 21st century economy. At the same time, the world's top economies systematically invest in research for its own sake.
The growth of modern economies has been driven largely by science, technology and engineering.
Investments in fundamental research come back to Canadians in the form of new jobs and higher wages. It's for these many reasons that our government has prioritized science and research since day one. We reinstated the long-form census, encouraged our scientists to speak freely and reinstated the position of the chief science adviser.
I requested that Canada's chief science adviser work with science-based departments to create departmental chief scientist positions in order to strengthen science advice to government and to develop a scientific integrity policy.
We have taken a very different approach in working with the science and research community. We have listened carefully to the community and have undertaken six major consultations.
One of those consultations was the first review of federal funding for basic science in 40 years.
We are committed to returning science and research to their rightful place. Four successive federal budgets have invested a total of more than $10 billion in science and research and in our researchers and students. We are putting them at the centre of everything we do. That means ensuring they have the necessary funding, state-of-the-art labs and tools, and digital tools to make discoveries and innovations.
We invested $4 billion in science and research in 2018.
This included the largest investment in fundamental research in Canadian history. In fact, we increased funding to the granting councils by 25% after 10 years of stagnant funding. The impact of this decision was profound and positive. We are hearing directly from researchers who say that because of increases to NSERC and SSHRC, they are able to hire students who gain the skills they need for the jobs of the future.
We provided $2 billion for 300 research and innovation infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions from coast to coast to coast. We also invested $763 million over five years in the Canada Foundation for Innovation and have committed predictable, sustainable, long-term funding for the organization.
We also devoted $2.8 billion to renewing our federal science laboratories because we understand the critical role that government researchers play in Canada's science and research community.
In parallel to these historic investments, our government is making important changes to the research system itself. We will shortly announce the establishment of the council on science and innovation to help strengthen Canada's efforts to stimulate innovation across our country's economy. Minister Petitpas Taylor and I have already announced the establishment of the Canada research coordinating committee to better coordinate and harmonize programs of the three federal granting councils—CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC—as well as the CFI.
The Canada research coordinating committee's action over the last year has led to the creation of the new frontiers in research fund, which supports international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and high-reward research.
The committee also launched the first-ever dialogue with first nations, Métis and Inuit regarding research. We provided 116 research connection grants to support community workshops and the development of position papers to inform this effort. More than half of these grants were awarded to indigenous researchers and indigenous not-for-profit organizations to help chart a shared path to reconciliation.
As we put into place the foundations for this significant culture change, we vowed that each and every Canadian would benefit.
To achieve our vision, the scientific and research communities must reflect Canada's diversity.
We want as many people as possible experiencing our world-class institutions, but it is not enough to attract people. We also have to retain them. That's why I put in place new equity and diversity requirements for our internationally recognized Canada excellence research chairs and Canada research chairs.
Because of our changes, more than half of the Canada excellence research chairs resulting from the last competition are women. I'm thrilled to say that in the most recent competition, for the first time in Canadian history, we had 50% women nominated for the Canada research chairs, and we had the highest percentage of indigenous and racialized researchers and scholars, as well as researchers with a disability.
Earlier this month, we took the historic step of launching a program that we are calling “Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada”.
This is a pilot program inspired by the internationally recognized Athena SWAN program.
We are encouraging universities, colleges, polytechnics and CEGEPs to endorse the dimensions charter to signal their commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to equal opportunities, treatment and recognition in our post-secondary institutions. I am pleased to share that 32 institutions have already signed the charter.
We have repeatedly heard that inadequate parental leave creates many challenges, especially for early-career researchers who are women.
No one should ever have to choose between having a research career and raising a family.
We know that a delay in career progress early on can often mean that women achieve lower levels of academic seniority and earn a lower salary and pension. That's why, in budget 2019, we are doubling parental leave from six to 12 months for students and post-doctoral fellows who are funded by the granting councils.
Budget 2019 also plans to provide for 500 more master's level scholarships annually and 500 doctoral scholarships, so that more Canadian students can pursue research.
Remaking Canada's science and research culture is a huge and complex undertaking, but we are hearing from G7 countries that Canada is now viewed as a beacon for research because of the investments we are making. We saw it first-hand with the international interest in the Canada 150 research chairs.
Obviously, there's still much more to do and it will take time.
Canadians can be proud, however, that in a short period, the landscape of science and research has forever been altered. We want Canada to be an international research leader, continuing to make discoveries that positively impact the lives of Canadians, the environment, our communities and our economy.
I'm sure that all committee members share this goal.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to finish by saying thank you to all the members of this committee for the work they have done over these last three and a half years.
I'd be pleased to answer any questions you may have.