In the 2012 federal budget, the Conservative government unveiled sweeping cuts across all departments and agencies. The three federal granting councils — the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada — were not spared. At the time, the government insisted the cuts would not affect programs but would instead be absorbed by greater administrative “efficiencies.” Since then, however, details have begun to emerge about the impact of reduced granting council funding, and some research programs are indeed being eliminated. For instance, NSERC’s major resources support program and research tools and instrument program have been discontinued. These programs provided critical infrastructure support for basic discovery-driven research.
In response to the elimination of these programs, a group of scientists sent a letter
on May 3 to the government and to members of Parliament in which they describe the cuts as a “disaster.” As they note, research projects and labs that have taken years to develop could be lost. Unless reversed, these cuts will have a serious impact on scientific discovery in Canada long into the future.