ARCHIVED - 3. Federal research funding departments and agencies: Practices and processes

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This section examines the present federal funding environment and its key players. It also presents findings regarding the funding available to researchers from official language minority community (OLMC) institutions and those who study linguistic duality issues. The following key questions are addressed:

  • How much research funding is currently being directed to OLMC institutions and OLMC-related research? What are the key sources of federal research funding in Canada? How much funding are OLMC institutions and researchers receiving? How many applications do the agencies receive from OLMC institutions and researchers, and what are the rates of success?

  • Do agency policies and procedures address the needs of OLMCs? Do the grant application evaluation processes of the different agencies ensure that the needs of OLMCs are being addressed? What abilities do the peer review committees have to evaluate applications in both official languages? What measures are the agencies taking to promote research funding in OLMCs or on linguistic duality?

  • Do agency programs address the needs of OLMCs? Do the research funding agencies have any programs that are directed specifically at promoting OLMC-related research? What, if any, research programs focus on linguistic duality? Do the agencies have specific programs for small institutions? Are the agencies considering the development of new programs to address the needs of OLMCs or to promote research on linguistic duality?

3.1 Key players

This section presents a summary of the key players involved in providing research funding or involved in supporting researchers in OLMC institutions or studying OLMC-related issues. They include the following groups:

The following sections describe the roles of the major research funding agencies, other federal departments and agencies, and private research foundations in the research funding process.

3.2 Federal research funding departments and agencies

3.2.1 The main research funding agencies

Although numerous sources of federal research funding are available, Statistics Canada data on federal government payments to the higher education sector for research in science and technology indicates that, on a strictly dollar value basis, most funding comes from four federal research funding agencies (NSERC, CIHR, CFI and SSHRC). Table 5 shows that in 2005, these four agencies provided roughly 92% of the $2.8 billion funded. Funding has increased more than threefold over the past 10 years. Note that these tables do not include funding provided by research foundations such as the Canada Research Chairs Program or the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, nor does it include research undertaken within federal departments or contracted by departments.

Table 5 – Federal government payments to the higher education sector for science
and technology, by department or agency,
1996–1997 to 2005–2006 (in millions)

Department/
Agency

1996–1997

2000–2001

2005–2006

NSERC

$413

$504

$791

CIHR
(formerly MRC)

$221

$350

$699

CFI

-

$183

$550

SSHRC

$75

$114

$544

Other federal
departments and
agencies

$185

$169

$221

 

$894

$1,320

$2,805

Source: Statistics Canada. Federal Government Expenditures and Personnel in the Natural and Social Sciences, 2006, p.25.

The mandates for these four federal research funding agencies are as follows.

  • NSERC: NSERC was created in 1978 to support basic research in science and technology (other than the health sciences) through discovery grants and strategic projects in partnership with universities, governments and the private sector. NSERC is a separate employer and reports the Minister of Industry.

  • CIHR: This agency was created in June 2000 by an act of Parliament with a mandate that includes bio-medical research, clinical research, research related to health systems, health services, health of the population, societal and cultural dimensions of health, and environmental influences on health. CIHR reports to the Minister of Health and has 13 institutes located across the country, each led by a scientific director.

  • SSHRC: SSHRC is an arm’s-length federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities. Created by an act of Parliament in 1977, SSHRC is governed by a 22-member council that reports to the Minister of Industry. SSHRC-funded research fuels innovative thinking about real life issues, including the economy, education, health care, the environment, immigration, globalization, language, ethics, peace, security, human rights, law, poverty, mass communication, politics, literature, addiction, pop culture, sexuality, religion and Aboriginal rights.

  • CFI: Created in 1997, CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the ability of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit and non-governmental research organizations to carry out world-class research and technology development that  benefits Canadians. CFI funds up to 40% of the eligible costs of a research infrastructure project.
3.2.2 Federal departments and agencies

In addition to the aforementioned federal research funding agencies, federal departments and agencies also either fund or carry out research in-house. These departments and agencies can be grouped into the following categories.

  • Federal departments and agencies that do research in-house: A number of departments and agencies carry out research in-house in partnership with the private sector, university researchers and other research funding agencies. In 2006–2007, the total budget for in-house federal research carried out by departments and agencies was $2.2 billion dollars. Examples of research centres located across the country working in close collaboration with university researchers include the National Research Council (budget of $693 million), Defence Research and Development Canada (budget of $255 million) and other departments such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada. The National Research Council was interviewed as part of this study. It appears that very little of this research goes toward research on OLMC issues.

  • Federal departments that fund research on a contract basis: A number of federal departments and agencies fund research projects on a contract basis to support policy development. Examples of departments that fall into this category, and which were interviewed as part of this study, include the Department of Foreign Affairs and  International Trade, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) and Industry Canada. Contracting for research follows the same contracting rules that apply to the purchase of other professional services. Typically, the research conducted by these departments is decentralized to responsibility centre managers and is therefore difficult to quantify. Research is often closely linked to the policy function within the department and is not necessarily in areas that are of interest to researchers.

  • Federal departments that fund research as part of other programs: In a number of cases, research is only one component of the overall funding for more complex programs and is therefore difficult to quantify. For example, the Canadian International Development Agency provides funding support to universities for international  development projects through the Universities and Colleges Program.

  • Departments that provide funding support to OLMCs and fund research on official languages issues: The Department of Canadian Heritage and other federal departments fund university-based and private sector research on official languages issues. This is intended to better understand and explain minority realities as distinct from majority needs and realities, and to examine issues related to second-language education and the promotion of linguistic duality. Such research is conducted by Canadian Heritage under the Official Languages Support Program. Canadian Heritage also funds several research programs. More details are provided later in this report.

On the other hand, Canadian Heritage’s Official Languages Secretariat is responsible for the coordination of the Official Languages Program (OLP) and for the comprehensive evaluation of the federal government’s programs and policies in support of Canada’s linguistic duality. In this context, research on official languages allows for the collection, pooling and analysis of data, leading to a better understanding of the situation of OLMCs and to a detailed assessment of the overall impact of government policies and programs in the area of official languages and linguistic duality. This coordination role is intended to help the government maintain an overall approach, which is adapted to the complexity of the OLP’s governance structure.

Reporting to the Assistant Deputy Minister Committee on Official Languages, the membership of the Coordinating Committee on Official Languages Research (CCOLR) includes broad representation from a number of agencies and departments interviewed in the course of the present study. Given the important role it plays in the development of public policy and its complementary role in the evaluation of OLP components, research is a crucial axis of coordination. The CCOLR evaluates the current state of research on official languages, reports back on data and information gaps and serves as a strategic mechanism at the senior management level of government to increase awareness of the importance of official languages research in the development and evaluation of policies and programs. In addition, the CCOLR ensures a leadership role in the collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial, community and academic partners concerned with official languages research. It should be noted that this committee does not fund OLMC research but encourages departments to do so and promotes creating ties between government and researchers.

3.2.3 Other research programs

Other programs that receive at least partial funding from the federal government also provide funding for research. In addition to CFI, as previously noted, two other programs were reviewed as part of this study.

  • Canada Research Chairs Program: In 2000, the Government of Canada created a new program to establish 2000 research professorships—Canada Research Chairs—in universities across the country by 2008. The Canada Research Chairs Program invests $300 million a year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. By helping Canadian universities and their affiliated research institutes and hospitals become world-class centres of research and research training, the Chairs Program contributes to enhancing Canada’s competitiveness in the global, knowledge-based economy, improving Canadians’ health and enriching our social and cultural life.

  • The Millennium Research Program: This program was launched by the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation in 2001 to assist it in carrying out its mandate to improve access to post-secondary education and provide students with the educational opportunities they need to prepare themselves for the future. The Research Program  advances the study of barriers to post-secondary education and the impact of policies and programs designed to alleviate them. It ensures that policy-making and public discussions involving opportunities in higher education in Canada are properly informed by rigorous analysis and empirical evidence.

Summary—A number of federal departments and agencies provide funding for research or undertake research contracts with universities and researchers; however, most of the research funding comes from a small number of agencies. This implies that any improvements and best practice initiatives to help serve OLMCs should be aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at the main federal research funding agencies (NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC).

3.3 Research communities

The community served by federal research funding agencies is very large. Table 6 provides approximate information on the size of the research community supported by the agencies in terms of the number of institutions and the number of researchers served.

Table 6 – Approximate size of communities supported
by federal research funding agencies (2005)

Agency

Number of
Researchers

Number of
Institutions

Number of Grants
and Awards (yearly)

Types of Institutions

SSHRC

6,000

130

8,000

Mainly universities and colleges

NSERC

11,000

90

3,600

Mainly universities, some colleges

CIHR

9,000

250

8,000

Universities, hospitals,
not-for-profit institutions

CFI

20,000

130

600

Universities, hospitals, colleges

Source: Data taken from agency Web sites and public documents.
2

3.4 Official language minority community post-secondary institutions

3.4.1 Institutions associated with official language minority communities

The OLMC institutions that participated in this study (see Table 1) fall into four distinct categories, which affects their relationship with the funding agencies and their ability to access research funding:

  • Francophone institutions outside Quebec, including the Université Sainte-Anne, the Université de Moncton, the Université de Hearst, and the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface;

  • Francophone institutions outside Quebec that are part of larger Anglophone majority universities: the Institut français at the University of Regina and the Campus Saint-Jean at the University of Alberta;

  • English institutions in Quebec: McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s universities. As large universities, McGill and Concordia have well-established research capabilities and already receive significant research funding support.

  • Bilingual institutions in primarily Anglophone environments outside Quebec. Most Ontario OLMC institutions, such as Laurentian University, the University of Ottawa and the Royal Military College of Canada, fall into this category.
3.4.2 Research funding received by institutions in official language minority communities

Information on funding levels gathered by Statistics Canada on behalf of the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO)3 indicates that OLMC institutions received a total of $352.3 million for research (see Table 7), which represents roughly 12.6% of the total $2.8 billion given by federal research funding agencies to all universities in Canada in 2005–2006 (see Table 5).

If the Anglophone universities in Quebec are excluded, the percentage of federal funds supporting research in official language minority institutions across Canada is slightly more than 4% of total research funding. According to Statistics Canada data:

  • The Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia received 0.2% of the federal government funds designated to support university research in the province. Together with the grants received by the Université de Moncton, the two Francophone institutions in the region received 3.8% of the total allocated to universities in the Atlantic provinces.

  • The three Anglophone minority-language universities in Quebec (McGill, Concordia, Bishop’s) fared considerably better, receiving 42.5% of federal government research support earmarked for universities in that province.

  • In Ontario, federal government research funding (a very significant majority of which would be designated for research done in English) for the larger bilingual universities in the province—Ottawa and Laurentian—in addition to the very modest funding received by the smaller institutions amounts to 14.3% of the total funding received by universities in the province.4

  • The Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface received no research funding from federal government sources in 2004–2005.5

Most institutes and researchers in OLMCs received their funding support from either CIHR ($109 million), NSERC ($66 million), CFI ($54 million), Canada Research Chairs ($28 million) or SSHRC ($22 million). Other federal departments and agencies provided 19.4% of total funding, which may explain in part why the researchers that were interviewed identified a number of federal departments and agencies as sources of funding.

Table 7 – Federal research funding to
official language minority institutions –
2004–2005 (thousands $)

Institution

SSHRC

Health
Canada

NSERC

CIHR

CFI

Canada
Research
Chairs
Program

Other
Federal
Sources

Total

Université Sainte-Anne

5

0

0

0

0

118

29

152

Université de Moncton

700

52

838

54

359

483

3,478

5,964

McGill University

8,729

2,182

36,318

78,846

28,969

17,992

39,041

212,077

Concordia University

4,695

0

8,882

1,824

2,849

1,890

4,902

25,042

Bishop's University

149

0

168

0

45

200

36

598

University of Ottawa*

7,550

1,937

17,172

28,232

21,183

6,219

19,133

101,426

Royal Military
College of Canada

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Laurentian University*

223

144

3,013

37

273

1,450

1,731

6,871

Dominican College of Philosophy
and Theology

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Saint Paul University*

70

0

0**

0

0

0

0

70

University of Sudbury

0

0

0**

0

0

0

0

0

Université de Hearst

0

0

0**

0

0

64

0

64

Glendon College

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Collège universitaire
de Saint-Boniface

0

0

0**

0

0

0

0

0

Institut français,
University of Regina

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Campus Saint-Jean,
University of Alberta

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

$22,121

$4,315

$66,391

$108,993

$53,678

$28,416

$68,350

$352,264

Source: Canadian Association of University Business Officers. Financial Information of Universities and Colleges 2004–2005. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2006.

n/a: no data available in the CAUBO report.
* Funding for both French and English research combined.
** Not eligible for the agency’s funding programs.

3.4.3 Research chairs received by institutions in official language minority communities

The number of research chairs provided to researchers in OLMCs is another indicator of the level of funding support received by OLMC institutions (see Table 8). As of December 2005, 213, or 12.6%, of the 1,698 research chairs granted overall in Canada were granted to OLMC institutions. Most of these chairs are at McGill, the University of Ottawa and Concordia. Fully 194 applications (91%) were submitted in English, compared to 19 (9%) submitted in French.

Table 8 – Number of research chairs granted to
official language minority institutions between 2000 and 2005

Institution

Number of Chairs

English

French

McGill University

121

117

4

University of Ottawa

48

42

6

Concordia University

22

22

0

Université de Moncton

6

1

5

Royal Military
College of Canada

4

4

0

Université de Hearst

1

0

1

Université Sainte-Anne

1

0

1

Collège universitaire
de Saint-Boniface

1

0

1

Bishop’s University

1

1

0

Campus Saint-Jean,
University of Alberta

1

0

1

Glendon College

0

0

0

Laurentian University

7

7

0

Dominican College of
Philosophy and Theology

0

0

0

Saint Paul University

 Eligible through parent university
(University of Ottawa)

x

x

University of Sudbury

Eligible through parent university
(Laurentian University)

x

x

Institut français,
University of Regina

0

0

0

Total

213

194

19

Source: Canada Research Chairs Program (www.chairs.gc.caGovernment site), August 2007.

Summary—With the exception of the large English-language universities in Quebec—McGill and Concordia—and recognizing that most of the grants allocated to the bilingual institutions elsewhere in Canada support research conducted in English, Francophone OLMC institutions  are not receiving large amounts of funding for research chairs.

Notes

2 The data was taken from the following Web sites: www.sshrc.caExternal site, www.nserc.caExternal site, www.cihr-irsc.gc.caGovernment site and www.innovation.caExternal site.

3 Canadian Association of University Business Officers. Financial Information of Universities and Colleges, 2004–2005. Statistics Canada, Ottawa: 2006, p.19; and p. 176-301.

4 No data was available for the Royal Military College, the Dominican College or Glendon College (within York’s research budget).

5 No data on the funds received by the Institut français in Saskatchewan or the Campus Saint-Jean in Alberta was available.

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