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Canada  

Boost for science, research

Canada's research community has long yearned for a consequential funding boost for science — and 2018 is poised to be its year.

The Liberal government's federal budget, now believed to be only a few weeks away, is expected to contain a major financial lift for basic scientific research across the country — one that will address some of the concerns laid out last year in a national review of the state of fundamental science.

That exercise, led by former University of Toronto president David Naylor, recommended the government end a long stretch of underfunding with phased-in investments over four years — until there's $1.3 billion more for researchers, scholarships and facilities.

It remains to be seen how much spending the budget will contain, and for how long. The Naylor report calls for a steady increase in funding for scientific endeavours — with a particular focus on federal granting councils, which oversee the distribution of federal grants to researchers.

The report is calling on the government to gradually add $485 million a year to its annual funding allotment for granting councils.

In recent weeks, confidence has begun to spread in the halls of academia. Leaders from the research community say they continue to see promising signals from the government.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said a "key element" in his budget, which is expected before the end of March, will focus on science and how it can play a role in building a solid economic foundation over the long term. In December, he held a roundtable with leading researchers and met with members of the review panel, including Naylor himself.

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, who commissioned the Naylor report, couldn't share details of the budget, but she called the review "really important."



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