A Delicate Balance

By Impact Centre & CIHE

The creation of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) to harmonize activities across the main federal agencies provides an opportunity for mechanisms for coordination with the provinces and territories to be considered. A new Impact Brief in partnership with CIHE provides a framework to examine federal-provincial/territorial (FPT) coordination in research and innovation policy.

The purpose of this brief is to serve as a starting point in the conversation on FPT coordination. By clarifying areas of stress as well as opportunities for improvement, we hope to raise awareness of the “vertical coordination gap” that has been endemic in Canada.

The Context

Canada’s research and innovation system crosses federal-provincial/territorial (FPT) borders. Provincial/territorial and federal agencies together fund over 30% of research and development (R&D) activities in higher education across the country. However, FPT coordination in this area has been largely a “reactive” and “ad hoc activity”.

The dizzying mix of programs for research and innovation at federal and provincial levels contribute to the coordination challenge, which has resulted in a patchwork of programs and co-matching requirements. Researchers and innovators are left to navigate a complex system of supports, seeking opportunities to help shoulder the direct and indirect costs of R&D.

Guiding Questions

To move forward with the discussion on FPT coordination, some questions warrant further consideration:

  • How do our federal and provincial/territorial policies for research and innovation currently reinforce/negate each other?
  • How much effort should we invest in coordination?
  • To what extent have stakeholders begun to address the coordination issue?
  • How can the federal research councils work with their provincial/territorial counterparts to avoid policy duplication and inconsistencies in support programs?
  • What could be some short- and long-term coordination targets? What do we define as success?

The path forward must consider how current barriers to coordination could be overcome. This includes setting attainable short-term targets such as more awareness, better data, clear responsibility for coordination at both government levels, and clear mechanisms for data exchange and consultation. More effective linkages across the system would help cover gaps in services and supports currently encountered by Canadian scientists and help build broad research capacity needed to sustain innovation.

Read the full text here.

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