The 2018 federal budget included a funding boost for science, health and humanities research, impacting universities across the Canada.

Announced Feb. 27, the Trudeau government is committing $3.8 billion over the next five years to fund a range of science programs.

Lisa Saksida, a professor and researcher at Western University, is confident that things are headed in the right direction.

“The need for more funding of fundamental scientific research is something that scientists across Canada have been voicing concerns about for some time,” Saksida said. “The government’s decision to invest shows that they listened and that they recognize the importance of fundamental scientific research both to innovation and the community more generally.”

A large part of the funding is earmarked for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. These councils invest annually in Canadian universities.

The government will also invest in independent research. Annually, approximately 1,200 individual research grants are given out to members of the Western community. 

“An important part of the budget is the emphasis on investigator-led work, where the science is driven by the scientists as opposed to special initiatives,” Saksida said.

The 2018 Liberal budget also places an emphasis on equity and diversity in the sciences.

Saksida said that this is a part of the Canadian government’s progressive attitude: encouraging the representation of women, indigenous peoples, members of visible minorities, people with disabilities and LGBTQ2+ members in scientific disciplines.

“At a time when funding for the sciences is under strain in most places in the world, it is heartening to see Canada being progressive in this area,” she said.