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e-4098 (Awards and honours)

Initiated by Sivani Baskaran from Markham, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are the lifeforce of discovery and innovation, providing the critical ideas, talent, and labour necessary for the majority of post-secondary research conducted in Canada;
  • Much of the science and research in Canada is funded by the Tri-Council Funding Agencies;
  • Yet, the majority of these federally funded graduate and postdoctoral scholarships amount to less than minimum wage, forcing some of the brightest minds in Canada into poverty, or to seek better funded positions abroad; and
  • As the cost of living has steadily increased over time, the unchanged values of graduate student and postdoctoral scholarships and fellowships provide inadequate support for these researchers, who often have families, prior student loans and other financial responsibilities.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Increase the value of graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships awarded by the Tri-Council agencies by 48% to match inflation since 2003, and index it to the consumer price index, which will ensure awards, especially the Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Canadian Graduate Scholarships – Master’s, are internationally competitive, and increase with costs of living.
2. Increase by 50% the number of graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships awarded by the Tri-Council agencies, which will improve equity in access to education, and ensure Canada attracts and retains high-quality researchers.

Response by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

The Government of Canada values the critical role of the research community, including graduate students and trainees – Canada’s future researchers – as well as researchers at all career stages, in producing the knowledge, discoveries, and innovations that help build a strong future for Canada and the world.

The Government of Canada also recognizes the importance of investing in post-secondary research, and the critical role that federal scholarships and fellowships play in nurturing and sustaining Canada’s top talent through support for career progression and increased financial security and independence.

Since 2016, Canada has committed more than $14 billion to support the valuable contributions that scientists and researchers make to the health, well-being, and prosperity of all Canadians.

In terms of targeted investments to support students and postdoctoral fellows, Budget 2019 provided $114 million over five years with $26.5 million per year ongoing, to the granting agencies to create 500 more master’s level scholarship awards annually and 167 more three-year doctoral scholarship awards annually through the Canada Graduate Scholarship program.

Budget 2019 also allocated $37.4 million over five years and $8.6 million annually to the federal granting agencies to expand parental leave coverage from six months to 12 months for students and postdoctoral fellows who receive granting council funding. The investment has helped young researchers better balance work obligations with family responsibilities, especially women who are often also primary caregivers.

To help sustain the talent pipeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government invested $291.6 million in income support for research trainees (students and postdoctoral fellows). The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) was also established as a temporary program to help Canadian universities and affiliated health research institutions. The CRCEF provided $323 million in wage support for approximately 32,000 research-related personnel, of which 29 percent were students and 10 percent were postdoctoral fellows.

Recognizing that diversity is one of Canada’s great strengths, and representation of varied cultural and social perspectives is essential to improving the scientific impact of research, the Government continues its work to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) to harness the country’s full range of talent. Acknowledging that Black researchers often face systemic barriers leading to underrepresentation in the awarding of grants, scholarships, and fellowships, Budget 2022 provided $40.9 million over five years and $9.7 million ongoing to the granting agencies to support targeted scholarships and fellowships for Black student researchers.

The Government recognizes that graduate students and trainees continue to face increasing financial pressures and acknowledges the calls from the research community to increase the value of scholarships and fellowships. Going forward, the Government will continue to work with the three federal granting agencies and the research community to explore ways in which we can better support our next generation of researchers and top talent.

Open for signature
August 8, 2022, at 1:47 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
October 7, 2022, at 1:47 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay)
October 19, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00762)
Government response tabled
December 2, 2022
Photo - Richard Cannings
South Okanagan—West Kootenay
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia