More cuts to public science in Canada, with YouTube video
NRC bids farewell to world-class research.
OTTAWA, April 15, 2009 — OTTAWA, April 15, 2009 - Canada's leading scientists once again find themselves looking over their shoulders as the federal government has announced the latest in a series of budget and staff reductions at the world-renowned National Research Council (NRC).
Approximately 30 members of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) will be affected by $35 million in cuts to NRC funding. These scientists perform invaluable work with the Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), the Institute for Information Technology (NRC-IIT), and at the Institute for Microstructural Sciences (NRC-IMS). This follows an earlier round of cuts in 2007, when over 100 jobs were lost at the NRC, and part of changes that are projected to impact up to 350 employees.
"It's impossible to overstate the importance of the NRC to Canada' s scientific history", said PIPSC A/President Gary Corbett. "Since 1916, its achievements in medical, atomic, agricultural, computer and space research have been synonymous with Canada's scientific and technological development. Now this government is yet again turning its back on this key national asset in order to save a few dollars. What does that tell you about its commitment to science in this country?"
Public Values interview with PIPSC acting president Gary Corbett about NRC layoffs
NRC researchers conduct science in the public interest such as designing chemical bomb sniffers or anti-counterfeiting materials. Even Prime Minister Harper recently acknowledged the world-class individuals who are involved with the NRC after Dr Paul Corkum was awarded the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal, its highest award. Yet the government's January 2009 budget favours investments in infrastructure, bricks and mortar rather than in the people who carry out the research.
As the government continues to withdraw resources from federally-supported science, Canada's private sector is in no position to carry the torch in its place. The economic situation has led many leading companies to cut back on research staff and budgets. "There is a very real danger that these researchers, scientists and engineers will look to the United States to continue their careers, now that the Obama administration is making such a serious and wide-ranging commitment to science" continued Corbett. Over the past decade, Canada has fallen behind other nations in international R&D rankings, and is rapidly losing its capacity to innovate. Recurring and short-sighted decisions, such as the cuts to the NRC, can only exacerbate the problem and will make it increasingly difficult for Canada to compete in a global economic downturn.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents 57,000 professionals and scientists across Canada's public sector.