Good morning, everyone.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm pleased to be here this morning with our deputy minister, John Knubley; our associate deputy minister, Kelly Gillis; and our assistant deputy minister, Lawrence Hanson.
I'm really pleased to be here this morning as this esteemed committee reviews the main estimates for 2017-18. You will know that this fiscal year the total for our department is up $1.3 billion over last. This is largely due to the investments in research infrastructure that our government made with the post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund. This $2-billion investment demonstrates our priorities when it comes to supporting scientific excellence in this country. When we are investing in such a major way to build and upgrade Canada's research facilities, this is really an investment in the people who make science happen.
This is my consistent refrain in all that I do. It's all about people. It's the lens through which I view all of our support for Canadian science. It's why our approach has been, and will continue to be, to make investments to provide people with the right skills and opportunities to make their greatest possible contributions to Canadian science. For example, through the Canada first research excellence fund, we have devoted a full $900 million to the Canadian researchers who are taking action on grand initiatives like quantum computing, stem cell research, brain science, and so on.
This year's budget is also investing $125 million to maintain and enhance Canada's international reputation for excellence in artificial intelligence. The committee may be familiar with some of the amazing people already doing world-leading work in this field, such as Yoshua Bengio in Montreal, who is a world expert in deep learning and artificial neural networks and Geoffrey Hinton at the University of Toronto, who is doing groundbreaking work in computer science and artificial intelligence.
It's important to remember that all these investments are in addition to the boost we have already provided to our three national granting councils through budget 2016. They now have access to an additional $95 million per year in ongoing permanent funding. This is the highest amount of new annual funding for discovery research in more than a decade. This new unfettered funding supports the efforts of tens of thousands of researchers and trainees at schools and facilities across the country.
That said, we haven't forgotten that more than 20,000 scientists and specialists are engaged in science and technology activities, government science. To help give these world-class professionals the tools they need, we will develop a new federal science infrastructure strategy.
We've already kicked things off by providing $80 million to replace the Sidney Centre for Plant Health with a new, world-class research facility.
We're also making investments directly in the work of these federal researchers in all the departments.
On the social science side, we have set aside support for the community and college social innovation fund, which fosters community college partnerships aiming at achieving beneficial social outcomes. Science is helping communities understand and meet the challenges and opportunities around them. This is one of the ways we are making good on our commitment to the multidisciplinary nature of science. I truly believe that we can make so much more of the relationship among the pure sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences.
We do all this because, again, it's all about people. It's about nurturing our domestic talent, even from the very earliest age, and all throughout their schooling and careers. That's why we are investing to teach grade school students to code—the language of tomorrow. We are also providing major support for PromoScience, a highly successful program that encourages young Canadians interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In addition, we are funding up to 10,000 new work-integrated learning opportunities per year through Mitacs research internships.
As science minister, I want all young Canadians to be able to see themselves taking part in the world of science. As I hope I've shown so far, our government is investing strategically to make the most of today's and tomorrow's homegrown talent, but we also need to make sure that we are attracting the best international researchers to Canada.
That's why, in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary, I've announced a new type of research chair to attract top-tier scientists from around the world. We're working on implementing this new chair quickly so that universities can recruit researchers as soon as possible.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to finish this morning by discussing the science review and how it will inform the future of Canadian research and scholarship. As you may know, a broad external review of the federal agencies had not been done since the 1970s. Simply put, it was time.
I am profoundly grateful to all the distinguished panel members, including the chair, Dr. David Naylor, for their service. I am reviewing the panel's recommendations now with a critical eye, through that people lens that I've been talking about. I'm pleased to see that the report talks a lot about talent. It talks about how we can best support students, researchers, professors, and everyone else involved in our research ecosystem.
It particularly highlights diversity and equity as places where we must do better. This rings so true with me. Throughout my own academic career, I have consistently advocated for more diversity in science. Science needs more women and more young people. It needs more indigenous peoples and more Canadians with disabilities. Because, as University of Victoria president Jamie Cassels so eloquently says, “diversity is the foundation of excellence”.
That's exactly why we have instituted new equity requirements in the Canada excellence research chairs competition. Right now, there is only one active female CERC. This is unacceptable. We have to do better. I have told university presidents that I am expecting to see a change.
What's more, I'll continue to explore other measures to encourage more diversity and equity in the research community. If Canada wants to achieve its full potential, we need all people to feel welcomed in the lab, the field and the classroom. I can't say it enough. The key word here is people.
The science review also brought into sharp focus the challenges facing early-career researchers and new investigators. Young scientists come with fresh insights and new ways to solve old problems. We have only to think about James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin. Their ages were 24, 36, and 32, respectively, when their work led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. Think of the science we may be missing out on for want of supporting our early-career researchers.
We hope to announce the appointment of the chief science adviser before the summer recess. He or she will be feeding into this discussion as well.
I am confident that if all partners, public and private, are united in working toward a singular goal, together we will be able to create a research system that is bold, vibrant, and equitable.
Thank you for having me to this committee, and I'm looking forward to receiving your questions.