Universities heartened by federal budget investments in research

Brock University President Jack Lightstone is welcoming significant new supports for research activity contained in the federal budget unveiled yesterday (April 21).Jack LightstoneIn tabling the 2015 economic blueprint, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the federal government will invest more than $1.5-billion over the next decade in the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.  The CFREF represents an injection of new funding for discovery research at Canadian universities. The first round, worth $350 million, is to be announced this July.The budget also contained a $1.33 billion investment in research infrastructure support plus an additional $46-million for the Tri-Council, the three federal research granting agencies.Lightstone was hopeful that the government’s direction will have positive implications on his own campus.“Brock is in the process of growing its research capacity,” he said. “Yes, federal funding for research will benefit the large research intensive universities, but it will also benefit universities like Brock as we continue to develop research capacity.“It is good for us to compete for these funds, and already we have some sectors in which we can compete with the best.”The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada said the funding will help keep Canada’s researchers innovative and globally competitive.“Funding for research delivers long-term benefits to Canada’s society and economy,” said AUCC chair David Barnard, who is also president of the University of Manitoba.The Council of Ontario Universities also weighed in, saying Ottawa showed leadership in digital research infrastructure through its support for CANARIE and new targeted investments through CFI.“Ontario universities also applaud the federal government for measures … to increase access to students through changes in the Canada Student Loan Program,” said the COU in a statement. “Many more thousands of students will be eligible for student loans as the government reduces the expectation of parental contributions when it calculates eligibility.” read more