Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, according to a recent article in sciencepolicy.ca, Canada is falling behind other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries in research and development investments, which is key to attracting and retaining the brightest, most creative and innovative minds.
In 2021, the Senate Prosperity Action Group report recommended greater focus, investment and execution in Canada transitioning to the fourth industrial revolution and specifically to the digital and intangible economy.
Three specific recommendations from that group follow: one, facilitating access to capital, including encouraging our financial institutions and pension plans to invest within our procurement system; two, positioning our innovative companies strategically within our procurement system; and three, building better partnerships between academic institutions and businesses, fostering commercialization of innovation.
Senator Gold, what is the government taking to raise our standing in the OECD on research and development?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The government recognized the important and indeed outstanding contribution that researchers and scientists make to the health, well-being and prosperity of all Canadians.
I’m advised that since 2018, the government has committed more than $15 billion to support research and science across Canada. The government has added 600 new Canada graduate scholarships, and increased the duration of paid parental leave for scholarship and fellowship holders from 6 months to 12 months.
My understanding is the government has heard the call from the research community to increase the value of scholarships and fellowships. It will continue to work with the three federal granting agencies and the research community to continue to explore ways that it can better support the next generations of researchers and top talent this country can produce.
Senator Klyne: When it comes to innovation, the Senate Prosperity Action Group’s report notes some factors holding Canada back. These include a national scarcity of C-suite talent with experience scaling up businesses, a shortage of skilled STEM talent with fierce global competition, a lack of affordable high-speed internet in parts of Canada and the slow adoption of technology by businesses and governments.
Senator, how will the government overcome these barriers to prosperity?
Senator Gold: Well, thank you for that important question, broad though it is. In order to support and nurture the folks with the skills to which you refer, I understand that the government is working with its agencies to develop new opportunities aimed at increasing science literacy and the participation of Canadians in STEM, including those from under-represented groups.