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e-4508 (Awards and honours)

Initiated by Sandra Klemet-N'Guessan from Peterborough, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are Canada’s workforce in research and innovation. Every day they make discoveries in medicine, engineering, the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities that contribute to our society. These discoveries drive our economy, and we need their creativity and innovation more than ever for Canada to remain competitive on a global stage. Unfortunately, Canadian graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are poorly paid because of 20 years of stagnant federal funding to Tri-Agency government scholarships, fellowships and grants. This lack of investment is leading to a rapid loss of talent, in which talented individuals are abandoning their research because they cannot afford to live in poverty, while others are seeking employment in other countries that offer better compensation. Canada’s success depends on retaining and attracting the top graduate students and postdoctoral scholars – they are our leaders of today and tomorrow.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Increase the value of Tri-Agency graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships by 50% and index them to inflation;
2. Increase the number of Tri-Agency graduate student scholarships by 50%;
3. Increase the number of Tri-Agency postdoctoral fellowships by 100%; and
4. Increase the Tri-Agency research grant budget provided to faculty by at least 10% per year for the next five years, to allow for increased graduate student and postdoctoral pay.

Response by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): THE HON. FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE

The Government of Canada recognizes that investment in research and talent is critical to driving discoveries and innovative breakthroughs that generate social, health, and economic benefits for Canadians, as well as to help train the next generation of diverse research leaders. Since 2016, Canada has committed more than $16 billion to support the valuable contributions that scientists and researchers make to the health, well-being, and prosperity of all Canadians.

Through Budget 2021, the government announced a total of $1 billion to strengthen research systems and talent pipelines for biomanufacturing and life sciences, through the Tri-Council Canada Biomedical Research Fund, the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Clinical Trials Fund. Budget 2021 also provided $360 million to launch the National Quantum Strategy to amplify Canada's significant strength in quantum research, grow our quantum-ready technologies and talent, and solidify Canada's leadership in the field.

The Government of Canada acknowledges 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. The government also recognizes that a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential for creating innovative impactful research. To this end, the granting agencies are continuing their work to increase opportunities for Black student researchers, using the funding received in Budget 2022 for targeted scholarships and fellowships.

More recently, through Budget 2023, the government proposed $813.6 million in 2023-24 to increase Canada Student Grants by 40 percent, providing up to $4,200 for full-time students, to support postsecondary students and make life more affordable. Budget 2023 further proposes to raise the interest-free Canada Student Loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study, and waive the requirement for mature students, aged 22 years or older, to undergo credit screening in order to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time, allowing up to 1,000 additional students to benefit from federal aid in the coming year.

Budget 2023 also proposed $197.7 million in 2024-25 to the Student Work Placement Program to continue creating quality work-integrated learning opportunities for students through partnerships between employers and post-secondary institutions. This investment will support students in gaining the necessary skills, education, and real-life work experience to transition successfully into the workforce.

Looking forward, the Government of Canada remains committed to supporting a strong federal system that fosters new ideas, breakthroughs, and advancements. In order to cement Canada’s leadership position on the world stage, our research support system must meet the needs of today’s research, which is increasingly complex, collaborative, multi- and inter-disciplinary, and international. To these ends, the government recognizes the importance of continued evaluation of and investment in Canada’s science and research ecosystem. The government welcomes the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System’s report and is carefully reviewing the findings and recommendations, and taking them under consideration as it advances its efforts to support the research ecosystem and Canada’s top talent.

Open for signature
July 17, 2023, at 3:03 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 16, 2023, at 3:03 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Michelle Ferreri (Peterborough—Kawartha)
September 28, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01686)
Government response tabled
November 9, 2023
Photo - Michelle Ferreri
Conservative Caucus