Summary of past PAGSE recommendations to House of Commons Standing Committee on FinanceThe Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE) is a cooperative association of more than 20 national organizations in Science and Engineering (S&E), formed in June 1995 at the invitation of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada to act as the principal voice representing the Canadian science and engineering community to the Government of Canada. The organizations that comprise PAGSE include approximately 50,000 individual members from the industry, academia, and government sectors.
The member organizations of PAGSE provide core support for its meetings and activities. PAGSE’s role is to inform decision makers about science and engineering and their importance to the nation, the economic benefits of research in Canada, the effects of research budgets, intellectual property issues, and other potential impediments to improving academic-industry symbiosis, including the international dimension.
PAGSE represents an extensive resource that, through contracts and agreements, can hold events and undertake studies and assessments of benefit to government departments and agencies, to non-government organizations, and to the general public. In addition, in partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), a monthly breakfast meeting is held on Parliament Hill known as “Bacon and Eggheads”, to inform parliamentarians about recent advances in science and engineering. Each fall PAGSE organizes an event focused on science and engineering issues – for 2003 the spotlight was on “Leaders of Tomorrow”.
PAGSE submits a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance each fall to provide consensus views from the S&E research community on policy issues and initiatives. Prior to 2000, PAGSE has strongly supported such government initiatives as the creation of CFI, the Canada Research Chairs, and the CIHR, and the Sustainable Development Technology Fund and the Canada Graduate Scholarships. Since 2000, PAGSE’s briefs have made recommendations that can be broadly grouped under four headings:
- Governance gaps in S&E research in Canada
- Support for university-based S&E research
- Support for S&E students and young scientists
- Support for S&E research in industry
- The creation of a high level interface between government and S&E research in the form of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology (S&T), an Office of S&T located in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), or a PMO Office of Science and Innovation
- The creation of National Academies of Canada or Canadian Academies of Science
- The establishment of a mechanism for setting national priorities for S&E research in Canada
- The establishment of a standardised peer review protocol for research in government science-based agencies
- The creation of an International Innovation Fund in order to open domestic S&E research to facilities not yet available within Canada
Support for university-based S&E research
- Increased support for university-based research, with particular emphasis on the funding levels and multi-year commitments to granting agencies (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) and CFI
- Facilitation of the commercialisation of university research, where appropriate
- Increased support for the indirect costs of university-based research
- The creation of an industry-driven Tri-agency Cluster Development program to better support trailblazers and “leaders of tomorrow”
Support for S&E students and young scientists
- Replacement of a substantial proportion of student loans by a system of grants for those who work in Canada after graduation
- Increased pre- and post-doctoral stipends, including for industry placements
- Increased participation of 25-64 year olds in post-secondary education to 50% by 2010
- Evaluation of efforts to increase admissions to post-graduate programs, in order to ensure that they are well directed to areas of fruitful employment
Support for S&E research in industry
- Increased government support explicitly targeted at S&E research in industry
- Fostering the high-tech advantage of Canada’s resource industries
- Increased R&D support levels, provision of R&D funding and expertise for small and medium size enterprises (SME’s), and increased availability of venture capital
- The foundation of a prestigious annual award to recognise internationally competitive innovators in the private sector
PAGSE’s recommendations have been in tune with a number of recent actions and policy statements by the government of Canada concerning S&E research:
- Commitment to funding for indirect costs of university research (2002)
- Increased funding to granting councils (2003)
- Increased funding for indirect costs (2003)
- Creation of the position of Science Advisor to the Prime Minister (2004)
- Steps toward the creation of a student grant program (2004)
- Recognition of the need for support for the commercialisation of university-based research (2004)
Governance gaps in S&E Research in Canada
With the aid of external funds, PAGSE also sponsors independent studies of important issues for S&E in Canada.
“Setting Priorities for Research in Canada” (2000), by SECOR. The study found that “Most organisations were simply not interested in how priorities ought to be established nationally”, and that there is poor fit between research priorities of universities and those of firms. Most importantly, broad S&E research priorities are set with little public debate. It recommended that Government should establish a foresight and priorities panel to ensure that investments are being made in research for the economic needs of the country, linked to industrial sector needs, and for social benefit.
“Socio-Economic Importance of Scientific Research to Canada”, written by David A. Wolfe and Ammon Salter (1999), which highlighted the difficulty of performing quantitative evaluations of the socio-economic benefits that derive directly from science. However, it concluded that there were many qualitative examples that demonstrated that they do. It also examined the instruments used by government and the financial sector to support research and its commercialisation.
Summary of PAGSE submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (2004)
REPORT TO PAGSE MEMBERS for May 2004 to May 2005
Summary of 2003 PAGSE Submission to Standing Committee on Finance
Summary of past PAGSE recommendations to House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance