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Federal Government Announces Major New Fund for Canadian Research Excellence

The University of Toronto’s Leslie L. Dan Faculty of Pharmacy was the site of a major announcement of the Government of Canada, on Wednesday, February 19

by University of Toronto
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Greg Rickford, Minister of State, Science and Technology (right) with University of Toronto Chancellor Michael WilsonPhoto credit: Salvatore Sacco, Photographer, CP ImagesGreg Rickford, Minister of State, Science and Technology, announced the Canada First Research Excellence Fund – $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to support the global competitiveness of Canadian post-secondary research.

“Over the next decade Canadian science and technology will own the podium,” Rickford said in his remarks. In a news release accompanying the announcement, he said that the new fund “will help our post-secondary institutions become among the world’s best, while creating jobs and opportunities and improving the lives of Canadians.”

Michael Wilson, U of T’s chancellor and a former federal finance minister, hosted the announcement.

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“I know from having sat around the cabinet table, and from having served as Minister of Finance, that governments must set priorities, in order to provide responsible leadership for the long-term benefit of the country,” he said. “Often this requires difficult choices, especially in times of fiscal restraint. So I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you and the Government of Canada for choosing to make Canadian research excellence a priority.”

Other speakers at the announcement included U of T alumnus Mark Adler, MP for York Centre; U of T alumnus Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; and Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice chancellor of the University of Waterloo and vice-chair of the U15 group of Canadian research-intensive universities.

The federal government’s recent budget established the fund with $50 million in 2015-16, growing to $100 million in 2016-17 and $150 million in 2017-18, and reaching a sustained level of $200 million annually in 2018-19 and beyond.

U of T has long advocated for greater funding for research excellence, and worked with Canada’s other research-intensive universities and representatives of post-secondary institutions across the country, in proposing the Excellence Fund.

Meric Gertler, president of U of T, welcomed the inclusion of the fund in the government’s budget.

“This new fund will support research that leads to vital discoveries and will help us continue to attract the best minds from around the world,” said Gertler. “That is good news for the University of Toronto and those engaged in fostering innovation and excellence.”

The government has said that the fund will be available to all Canadian post-secondary institutions on a competitive, peer-reviewed basis, and has committed to providing details on how funding will be allocated, within the next few months.