CanOasis News Alert: PM to creat 1200 research positions
G. Dellaire, Ph.D.
G.Dellaire at hgu.mrc.ac.uk
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
The academic community hailed the initiative, which
$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
and $200,000 for more established scientists. It will
cover their salaries
and free them from teaching duties. The initiative was
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
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
for maternity leave, and an additional 10 weeks for
Either parent will be able to take the extra weeks
and adoptive parents will also qualify. Officials are
looking at extending
benefits to parents who have their own business or
those who don't
It is unclear how much the new changes will cost.
Minister Jane Stewart has said it could cost as much
as $250-million for
every five weeks of leave added to the current
"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
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
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
Mr. Prichard said.
Medical Research Council president Henry Friesen
described it as "a
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
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
spends billions of dollars supporting scientists at
universities across the
Mr. Prichard said yesterday's announcement levels the
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
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Graham Dellaire, Ph.D.
MRC Human Genetics Unit
Western General Hospital
Fax: +44 (0)131 343 2620
Phone: +44 (0)131 332 2471
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