Let's play Cut the Granting Councils!

From a concerned source, here’s the text of emails the presidents of the three academic granting councils sent out to stakeholders last Thursday…while a certain lanky visitor to Ottawa was providing handy cover. I don’t think the cuts detailed here are catastrophic, in and of themselves, but I am not expert and I look forward to hearing from informed readers.

First, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, or SSHRC:

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to summarize the results for SSHRC of the recent
federal budget.

1) In Budget 2009, the Government of Canada allocated $17.5 million
over three years to SSHRC for Canada Graduate Scholarships to fund an
additional 400 master’s and 100 doctoral scholarships “focused on
business-related degrees.” Subsequent to this Budget decision by the
Government of Canada, our responsibility here at SSHRC is the
administration of these additional scholarships in keeping with our
mandate to support excellence in research and research training in the
social sciences and humanities.

As demonstrated over SSHRC’s thirty-year history, students pursuing
research-based graduate degrees across the social sciences and
humanities significantly enrich understanding of topics important to
our society. Moreover, SSHRC award-winners from all research degree
programs go on to benefit all sectors, including the business world.
Directly, and indirectly, the results continue to make significant
contributions to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, as
illustrated in the current financial crisis by the central role of
business historians focused on the 1930s; philosophers focused on
business ethics; political scientists focused on regulatory
frameworks; economists focused on stimulus strategies; management
researchers focused on corporate operations; sociologists focused on
labour markets; literary scholars focused on the new digital economy;
musicologists focused on the creative industries; and so on.

At the origins of such diverse contributions is SSHRC’s hallmark
commitment to excellence; every student who receives a SSHRC award has
been selected through a rigorous expert adjudication process involving
top scholars in the social sciences and humanities. It is with this
principle of adhering to the highest levels of international
excellence that SSHRC fulfills its mandate and thereby enables the
“best and brightest” to contribute so significantly to Canada and the

2) The Budget also included the results of Strategic Review, a process
which requires all government departments and agencies, on a four-year
cycle, to review all program spending, and to assess how and whether
these programs are aligned with core mandates, and how they are
effective, efficient and meet the priorities of Canadians. SSHRC was
one of 16 organizations, along with NSERC and CIHR, that participated
in the process this past year. The outcome of Strategic Review for
SSHRC is as follows:

a) SSHRC funding is reduced for health-related research that is
eligible under the mandate of CIHR. Out of approximately $20 million
currently invested by SSHRC in health research, a reduction of $5.59
million will be phased in over three years: approximately $1.05
million in fiscal year 2009-10, $2.65 million in fiscal year 2010-11
and $1.89 million in fiscal year 2011-12. SSHRC will continue to fund
research and training for which the intended outcomes add to our
understanding and knowledge in the social sciences and humanities. A
set of guiding principles has been developed to assist applicants in
determining whether their applications are suitable for SSHRC
consideration. These guidelines will be made publicly available as
soon as possible. In the meantime, SSHRC has begun working with CIHR
to ensure a coordinated approach to the implementation of this decision.

b) SSHRC funding is eliminated for Research Time Stipends (RTS)-funds
that help to provide adequate time for faculty to conduct research.
SSHRC recognizes the central importance of time for research in the
social sciences and humanities but also recognizes that universities
have the responsibility to provide university grant award-holders with
adequate time for research.

For the past decade, SSHRC has awarded RTS on a cost-shared basis with
institutions to only a small number of scholars (in 2008-09, for
example, 132 RTS were included in the total of 904 successful standard
research grants). We will no longer fund this cost-sharing, and we
will continue to require that universities confirm that all grant-
holders have appropriate time to conduct their research. This decision
does not affect salary replacements for non-academic participants in
SSHRC-funded research projects (for staff in community organizations
participating in CURA projects, for example).

As of April 1, 2009, grant applications may no longer include requests
for RTS. However, forward commitments for RTS made before March 31,
2009, will be respected. Funding will be phased out over a three-year
period: approximately $300,000 in fiscal year 2009-10, $1.2 million in
fiscal year 2010-11 and $2.1 million in fiscal year 2011-12.

These two changes represent a total of $8.19 million in SSHRC budget
reductions, phased in over three years.

Funding under the Indirect Costs Program is being reduced in
proportion to reductions in eligible direct costs programs that are
administered by each of the funding agencies. As such, the relative
ratio of funding for the direct and indirect costs of research will
remain essentially the same as prior to Strategic Review. The 2008-09
Indirect Costs budget of $330 million will see a total reduction of
$14.652 million over the next three fiscal years. The Indirect Costs
Program grant budget will be $325.379 million in fiscal year 2009-10,
$322.080 million in fiscal year 2010-11, and $314.403 million in
fiscal year 2011-12.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you in promoting a supportive
environment for research, training and knowledge mobilization in the
social sciences and humanities and in sharing more broadly the
successes and impacts of research in our fields. Please do not
hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Yours in research,

Thomas Kierans

Vice President and Chair of Council
Chad Gaffield, PhD, FRSC


Next, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, CIHR:


Following the January 26, 2009 Speech from the Throne, the Government
of Canada tabled its 2009 Budget, Canada’s Economic Action Plan in the
House of Commons on January 27. The Budget outlined the Government’s
economic stimulus package designed to bolster the Canadian economy and
provide support for Canadians as the world’s economies work through
the current economic crisis. The Budget 2009 speech and documents can
be found on the Finance Canada website at:

Research plays a key role in improving the health of Canadians. That’s
why, over the past three years, the Government has increased the
annual base budget of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(CIHR) by over $142 million. This year CIHR plans to spend
approximately $917 million on peer-reviewed health research projects
conducted at universities, hospitals and research centres across Canada.

I have summarized below the details of Budget 2009 as it relates to

First, CIHR will receive $35M over the next three years for Canada
Graduate Scholarships (CGS) to fund an additional 200 doctoral
scholarships, valued at $35, 000 each per year for three years
beginning in 2009-10, and an additional 400 master’s scholarships,
valued at $17, 500 each for one year, in both 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Second, Budget 2009 also provided the results of the Government’s
Strategic Review process. CIHR was one of the 21 Government
Departments and Agencies that undertook a Strategic Review of its
programs and services. The objective of the process was to assess
whether programs:

· are effective and efficient;

· meet the priorities of Canadians; and

· are aligned with federal responsibilities.

The results of the process are as follows:

· CIHR funding of the Open Team Grant program will be
discontinued. To respect current commitments, reductions will be
phased in over the next three years with $1.5M in 2009-10, $5.5M in
2010-11, and $27.6M in 2011-12 and thereafter; and

· Funding for the Intellectual Property Mobilization (IPM)
program will be discontinued. To respect CIHR’s current commitments,
the annual reductions of $2M will commence in 2010-11 and end in

In addition, funding under the Indirect Costs Program will be reduced
in proportion to reductions in the above direct cost programs. The
relative ratio of funding for the direct and indirect costs will
therefore remain essentially the same as prior to the Strategic Review.

In summary, taking into account the new investments for the Canada
Graduate Scholarships and the strategic reallocations, CIHR’s budget
for 2009-10 will increase by $12.5M, bringing our total budget to


Alain Beaudet, MD, PhD


Canadian Institutes of Health Research

And finally, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, NSERC:

Dear Colleagues,
We are writing to communicate to you the decisions in the recent federal budget which affect NSERC’s programs. Before doing so, let me say that NSERC is pleased to see continuing investments in the Canadian Science, Technology and Innovation system. The significant investments in our universities and colleges through a $2 billion infrastructure fund, as well as additional funding to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, will help maintain a healthy academic research infrastructure in our country.

In addition, Budget 2009 provided resources to many of our key partners, in particular the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) through their Industrial Research Assistance Program, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in areas such as forestry, energy and the environment, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for Arctic Research Infrastructure.

More directly related to our specific role, the budget included an additional $87.5 million over three years for graduate research scholarships, which will enable up to 500 doctoral and 1,000 master’s scholarships to be supported though the three granting agencies, beginning in the current competition year.

NSERC will receive $35 million of this funding over a three-year period, which will allow an additional 200 PhD level scholarships to be awarded in the current (2009) competition, and an additional 400 scholarships at the master’s level in each of the 2009 and 2010 competitions. These investments, added to the $3.5 million over two years fund for 600 additional Industrial R&D Internships (IRDI), will provide training opportunities to our students and equip them well for their future participation in the renewed economy.

NSERC was one of 21 organizations asked to conduct a Strategic Review in 2008. This exercise requires departments and agencies to review all direct program spending on a four-year cycle to ensure their effectiveness and efficiency, and identify a minimum of 5 percent of their budget for potential reallocation to other federal government priorities.

As part of this Strategic Review process, NSERC conducted a comprehensive review of all our programs according to the following criteria: (1) need and impact of this program on the community it serves; (2) federal role and fit to NSERC’s mandate; (3) alignment with the government’s S&T strategy; and finally, (4) value for money (efficiency and effectiveness), management performance and accountability.

It is important to note that all of our major core programs were found to be high performing and were protected in this exercise. For example, the budget for our Discovery Grants Program is projected to be $326 million in 2009-10, compared to $323 million in 2008-09. Similarly, the budget of the Strategic Partnerships programs is projected to be $114 million, compared to $102 million last year.

The program changes outlined below, as a result of Budget 2009, will be phased-in over three years, and all existing funding commitments will be honoured. As a result of this exercise, NSERC will see a reallocation of $11.2 million in the first year (2009-10), $23.3 million in the second year and $34.7 million in the third and subsequent years.

The following changes to NSERC programs, included in the Strategic Review reallocations, were confirmed in Budget 2009:

* Centres for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning (CRYSTAL)
The CRYSTAL program will be phased-out and funding for the five centres currently supported will not be renewed at the end of the current pilot. Existing funding commitments will be honoured, and no new competitions will be held.

* Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS) program
NSERC’s PGS program will restrict awards at the master’s level to one year only. This aligns our program with that of the Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) program. No students currently funded will lose their scholarship. Starting with the current 2009 competition, winners of master’s level scholarships will receive one-year awards.

* University Faculty Awards (UFA)
The elimination of this program was announced some time ago, and the last new awards were made in 2008. There will be no further competitions.

* Research Capacity Development (RCD) program
The Research Capacity Development pilot program will not be continued. The five-year awards to the seven institutions involved in the pilot will end as planned in March 2009, and there will be no further competitions.

* Major Resources Support (MRS) program
The Major Resources Support program will, in future, provide support only for major resources which are unique on a national or international scale.

* Special Research Opportunity (SRO) program
The Special Research Opportunity program will be discontinued. Starting immediately, we will not accept new Letters of Intent for this program. However, NSERC will continue to support research that is urgent and has a strong potential for breakthroughs through other programs.

* Intellectual Property Mobilization (IPM) program
The Intellectual Property Mobilization program will be discontinued. Current awards run until November 2009.

Please note that funding under the Indirect Costs Program is being reduced in proportion to reductions in eligible direct costs programs that are administered by each of the funding agencies. As such, the relative ratio of funding for the direct and indirect costs of research will remain essentially the same as prior to the Strategic Review.

We will continue to work to ensure that our ongoing programs serve the university research community effectively and efficiently. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Suzanne Fortier Hon. James Edwards
President, NSERC Chair of Council

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