Leveraging Federal Science: How Provinces Can Make a Difference in Strengthening Canadian Knowledge Production

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 2nd 2017

Organized by: Council of Canadian Academies

Krista Connell, Chief Executive Officer, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation; Jeff Kinder, Director, Innovation Lab, Institute on Governance; Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientists of Quebec; David Schwarz, Senior Director, Science Policy & Evaluation, Alberta Economic Development & Trade.

Moderator: Eric Meslin, President and CEO, Council of Canadian Academies

Takeaways and recommendations: 
  • The provincial role in science policy and investment is often ignored at the federal level, resulting in a disjointed and fractured system across Canada.

  • Provincial science policies can bring clarity to provincial research priorities and effectively leverage federal science policy, according to a recent report from the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) (Science Policy: Considerations for Subnational Governments).

  • Quebec science policy is anchored around the position of the Chief Scientist who has a good network to assist with coordination and dissemination.

  • The CCA report offers an opportunity to discuss science and technology at the subnational level which has not taken place in 30 years.

  • Through the Fonds de Recherche du Québec (FRQ), Quebec has successfully advocated for funding increases to the provincial granting councils. Quebec scientists are also very competitive at the federal level.

  • The Alberta government, which commissioned the CCA report, has recognized that there are direct economic benefits stemming from support for fundamental research and has completed a needs assessment and outcomes map of the science system.

  • The CCA report is allowing Alberta to further its science policy considerations and engagment, thus allowing the province to identify and invest in key priority areas.

  • Provincial leverage of federal science investment is a complicated dance that requires carefully conceived coordination.

  • Federal-provincial coordination is challenged by different visions of success, tensions between researcher-driven and priority-driven research, and differing perspectives on the function and management of the research enterprise.

  • Matching requirements of federal science programs is a major provincial concern. If not matched, federal money is left on the table.

  • Subnational science policy should be developed and deployed to help prepare for the imminent arrival of key disruptive technologies.

  • Provincial science policy must also include discussion and interaction with cities where the biggest impact of research and new technologies will be felt.

  • Science at the federal, provincial and municipal levels are all part of the same ecosystem. It’s time to start acting like one.