Karen Diepeveen, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Each year, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance asks Canadians to identify their priorities for the upcoming federal budget. In response, the Federation puts forward recommendations pertaining to the social science and humanities community, noting ways in which federal funding could bolster these disciplines, research, scholars and students.
Last year in 2013, in addition to ask for the granting councils, the Federation recommended the federal government change the regulations for Mitacs to allow not-for-profits to participate in their internship program. When Budget 2014 was announced, this recommendation was adopted, with the budget stating, “Federal funding for Mitacs programs will also be made available to eligible not-for-profit organizations with an economic orientation, in addition to currently eligible industrial partners.”
The Federation recently submitted recommendations for Budget 2015 to the Standing Committee on Finance. This year, our recommendations focused on four areas:
- Invest in research: Invest an additional $250 million over three years in the granting councils (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Canadian Institutes of Health Research). Distribute the funds equitably among the three granting councils for research across all disciplines. In addition, ensure Canadian research infrastructure supporting all disciplines remains state-of-the-art by committing $450 million per year for five years (beginning in 2016/17) to the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
- Create opportunities for Canadian post-secondary students: In celebration of Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary, create a visionary fund to encourage students to experience the wider world during their studies. The awards, valued at $10,000 each for one year of study, would provide an opportunity for international study or internships for 15,000 students. The cost of funding these high-profile awards would be $150 million over the lifetime of the program. The resources could be raised in collaboration with the private and philanthropic sectors.
- Expand social innovation: The Federation applauds the investment in social innovation in colleges seen in Budget 2014. The Federation recommends extending social innovation funding to the university sector by providing $20 million over three years. This funding could be administered in the same way as the colleges fund and would enhance the powerful social and economic impact of social innovation partnerships between universities and communities.
- Improve access to post-secondary education for First Nations, Métis and Inuit: With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission releasing its report next year, 2015 will present an opportunity to renew and deepen a national commitment to achieve real and just reconciliation. The post-secondary sector can and must be a fully engaged actor in this national reconciliation. In the short term, this requires improving real access for indigenous students to post-secondary education, including expanding Indspire’s scholarships and bursaries. The Federation also recommends increasing support to the Post-Secondary Partnerships Program.
Read our full submission here. We anticipate Budget 2015 will be announced by the federal government in February or March 2015, and will have full coverage of how the budget affects our community as soon as the budget is released.