May 1, 2023 (Ottawa) – HealthCareCAN supports graduate and postdoctoral students’ call to action from government as a key component to strengthening the health research ecosystem in Canada.
A March 2023 report published by the Advisory panel on the federal research support system reflects numerous recommendations provided by HealthCareCAN during consultations, including an increase in funding for the Tri-Council and the Research Support Fund to cover a greater proportion of salaries for researchers and the costs associated with operating a lab.
“I am deeply concerned about the future of health research in Canada,” said Paul-Émile Cloutier, president and CEO of HealthCareCAN. “The overall state of affairs of our health research sector in Canada is unstable and maintaining the status quo is simply unacceptable. If Canada’s research talent can’t secure adequate funding for their work, let alone feed and house themselves under the current funding regime, they will seek better opportunities elsewhere, and leave Canada behind.”
According to Support our Science, a grassroots organization advocating for better pay for graduate students and postdoctorates working on research in Canada, remuneration rates have not increased in over two decades. For example, scholarships for trainees provided by the federal government are just $17,500 for a master’s student, $21,000 or $35,000 for a doctoral student, and about $45,000 for a post-doctoral fellow, same as they were in 2003.
Most trainees in Canada are funded through Tri-Council grants received by their supervisors and based on the recent federal budget, Tri-Council budgets will remain stagnant moving forward. Meanwhile, Canada’s peers, such as the U.S., U.K., and Germany, have announced plans to drastically increase their investment in science and research in the coming years. That is why HealthCareCAN is strongly advocating for the federal government to double its funding of the Tri-Council along with annual increases that keep pace with inflation and global benchmarks. It’s not just about dollars, but about conducting more advanced health research in areas that promised to achieve great health outcomes for Canadians.
“The research community is frustrated,” said Dr. David Hill, co-chair of HealthCareCAN’s Vice Presidents of Health Research Committee. “I’m hearing more and more graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and early career researchers saying that they’re tired of waiting for the federal government to step up their support while they struggle just to keep a roof over their heads. That frustration has come to a head now, as is evident by this walk-out.”
With the clock ticking, HealthCareCAN is joining the voices of our young researchers to urge the federal government to take immediate action to better support Canada’s research talent and their work, and demonstrate clear, unequivocal support for a community whose dedication and hard work helped us overcome the worst public health crises in over a century.
HealthCareCAN is the national voice of healthcare organizations, hospitals and health research institutions across Canada. We foster informed and continuous, results-oriented discovery and innovation across the continuum of healthcare.
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Alexandria Rowe, Communications and Member Services
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