CanOasis News Alert: PM to creat 1200 research positions

G. Dellaire, Ph.D. G.Dellaire at
Thu Oct 14 07:13:10 EST 1999

CanOasis News Alert No. 1

PM bolsters research in bid to end brain drain Universities to set up
1,200 new positions

Parliamentary Bureau Chief
Globa and Mail
Thursday, October 14, 1999

                 Ottawa -- The federal government unveiled a major
initiative to stem the
                 outflow of Canada's top scientists with the
announcement yesterday that
                 it will finance the creation of 1,200 new research
positions at Canadian

                 Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has played down fears of a
brain drain in
                 the past, but the plan he spelled out yesterday is
designed to discourage
                 researchers from leaving the country and to repatriate
some who have
                 already departed.

                 The academic community hailed the initiative, which
will cost
                 $60-million next year and $180-million by its third

                  Details are still being worked out, but the plan is
intended to give
                  universities the money to support younger researchers
identified by their
                  peers as rising stars and compete for those who have
                  established international reputations.

                  The support amounts to about $100,000 a year for
younger scientists
                  and $200,000 for more established scientists. It will
cover their salaries
                  and free them from teaching duties. The initiative was
mentioned in
                  Tuesday's Throne Speech, but Mr. Chrétien added detail
in a speech to
                  the Commons yesterday.

                  He also fleshed out another Throne Speech promise, to
extend parental
                  leave under the unemployment-insurance system.

                  He said that by Jan. 1, 2001, Canadian parents would
qualify for a full
                  year of benefits, an increase from the six months now
                  The unemployment-insurance system allows women 15 paid
weeks off
                   for maternity leave, and an additional 10 weeks for
either parent.

                  Either parent will be able to take the extra weeks
announced yesterday
                  and adoptive parents will also qualify. Officials are
looking at extending
                  benefits to parents who have their own business or
those who don't
                  currently qualify.

                  It is unclear how much the new changes will cost.
Human Resources
                  Minister Jane Stewart has said it could cost as much
as $250-million for
                  every five weeks of leave added to the current
regulatory regime.

                  "There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that
success in a child's
                  early years is the key to long-term healthy
development," Mr. Chrétien
                  said. "Nothing is more important than for parents to
be able to spend
                  the maximum amount of time with newborn children in
the critical early
                  months of a child's life."

                  The money the federal government provides for the
research positions
                  at universities will go to the three granting agencies
that now fund
                  university research in Canada. It will be awarded to
scientists picked by
                  committees of their peers.

                  University of Toronto president Robert Prichard said
in an interview
                  yesterday that Mr. Chrétien's announcement was the
equivalent of
                  recruiting the faculty of a major university almost

                 "We are back in the hunt. This is incredibly exciting.
I can't remember a
                  more exciting day in the 10 years I have been the
university president,"
                  Mr. Prichard said.

                  Medical Research Council president Henry Friesen
described it as "a
                  stunning announcement."

                  Mr. Chrétien said he wants to add an additional 800
research chairs as
                  soon as possible, which officials say would probably
increase the cost
                  of the program to $300-million a year.

                  "Today, our challenge as a country is to create a
climate of opportunity
                  for our graduate students and for our graduates, to
provide exciting
                  opportunities for Canadian researchers and to attract
the best academic
                  researchers in the world to Canadian universities,"
Mr. Chrétien said.

                  "International competition has never been more
fierce," he said,
                  "particularly at a time when United States
universities benefit from both
                  permanent endowments and the generosity of private
foundations out of
                  all proportion to those of our universities."

                  Senior government officials say the program is
designed to allow
                  Canadian universities to compete for the best
researchers and is an
                  acknowledgment that top researchers in the United
States make more
                  money than those in Canada.

                  "The idea is that this can enable the universities to
build the excellence of
                  their faculties and to attract the level of graduate
student and postdoc
                  student that can create real excitement around the
research that is being
                  done around Canadian universities," Industry Minister
John Manley said
                  in an interview yesterday.

                  U.S. universities have far richer endowment funds than
those in Canada,
                  and they use the interest to fund research. And the
U.S. government
                  spends billions of dollars supporting scientists at
universities across the

                  Mr. Prichard said yesterday's announcement levels the
playing field.
                  Canadian universities regularly lose some of their
most talented graduate
                  students and the new funding will offer hope and
possibility to those
                  who now feel they have to leave, he said.

                  There will be new chairs created in the social
sciences, but the bulk of
                  the money is expected to go to medical researchers and
those in the
                  natural sciences.
CanOasis is the equivalent of a virtual bulletin board or "water cooler"
where expatriate Canadian researchers working abroad can network and
share information, whether that be the latest hockey scores or news of
potential employment opportunities in their field of study. The site
hosts member contact pages and provides useful links to job and funding
resources. Membership is free.

Visit CanOasis today at
Graham Dellaire, Ph.D.

MRC Human Genetics Unit
Western General Hospital
Crewe Road
Edinburgh, UK

Fax: +44 (0)131 343 2620
Phone: +44 (0)131 332 2471

More information about the Bioforum mailing list