Genome Canada did not get the funding it requested in the latest budget. In fact, it got nothing at all. Here's a message from the Board of Directors of Genome Canada [Federal Budget 2009].
What a bunch of wimps. Here's the list of the Board of Directors.
- Genome Canada is pleased with the federal government’s 2009 budget in which millions will be invested in research infrastructure over the next two years. This is good news for the scientific community across the country that needs to be at the cutting-edge of research infrastructure and new technologies in order to maintain Canada’s competitiveness at the national and international level.
- Although Genome Canada did not receive funding in the 2009 federal budget to fund new genomics research projects, this will not impact Genome Canada’s current projects that received a full commitment of funding from previous federal government investments in 2007 and 2008.
- Genome Canada has in place two five-year funding agreements with the Government of Canada for a total of $240M: $100 M (2008-2012) $140 M (2009- 2013)
- These investments flow to Genome Canada on a cash requirement basis. Thus, a total of $107M has been invested in 2008-09; and a total of $106.5M will be invested in 2009-10, creating and maintaining over 2,350 HQP positions per year.
- Over the same period of time, Genome Canada has raised over $225M from other strategic partners in the private, public and philanthropic sectors to support genomics research in Canada.
- Since its inception in 2000, Genome Canada has provided operating funds to Canadian genomics researchers, while complementing other sources of funds for infrastructure coming from such agencies as Canada Foundation for Innovation, to allow them to be among world leaders in their respective fields such as human health, agriculture, environment, forestry, fisheries, new technology, and GE3LS (ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social issues).
- Genome Canada is confident that the Government of Canada and its other financial strategic partners will do everything possible over the coming years to secure additional funding to support new initiatives in genomics research in Canada while increasing Canada’s productivity, wealth and well-being of all Canadians.
It's one thing to praise the government for not giving you the money you requested but it's quite another to heap praise on a government that is cutting funding to the major granting councils. Yes, it's true that the budget contains money for infrastructure support but that money will be useless without operating grants. Operating grants are the bread and butter of scientific research. They are what pays for the day-to-day expenses of operating a research lab. It doesn't matter how nice your building is if you can't buy enzymes and chemicals. Modern science is expensive.
Operating grants also pay the salaries of research assistants, graduate students, summer students, and post-docs.
Myopic governments don't like to fund operating grants because that's a long-term commitment. One-time-only (OTO) money is much better 'cause you can get a big bang for your buck (publicity and votes) and you don't have to make any promises.
Genome Canada's directors should know this. They should not be sending out a press release that looks like they are backing the government decision to destroy basic research. Unless, of course, they agree with that strategy.
This brings up another point about Genome Canada. Many scientists, including me, don't think that the Genome Canada model is the way to fund research. In that sense, I'm not all that upset that it wasn't funded. If you want to learn more about the problems of co-funding and market-drive science then read the latest posting from Chris Hogue [Market Driven Science in Crisis?]. He knows what he's talking about.
Hat Tip: iBiome: Genome Canada cut good for science?, And now, the walkback