Federal support for S&T set to decline by 5.4% this year as cuts continue

Guest Contributor
June 16, 2014

Data don't match government assertions

The federal government has reduced its spending on science and technology by $1.7 billion or 14.4% over the past five years, according to new data from Statistics Canada. The agency projects that federal S&T outlays will decline for the fourth year running to $10.3 billion in FY14-15 — a year-over-year decline of $587 million or 5.4%. The picture is even gloomier when cast in 2007 constant dollars — $9.8 billion in FY13-14 or back to the same level as FY05-05.

The steady progression of cuts to federal S&T expenditures is in stark contrast to assertions by the Conservative government. In a speech just two months ago, Ed Holder, minister of State for science and technology, stated that, "Our government is making record investments in science and technology to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians."

Declining federal support for intramural S&T outlays has also taken a beating. Over the past five years it has shrunk by $743 million or 12.4%, from $6.0 billion in FY10-11 to a projected $5.2 billion in FY14-15 — $272 million in the last year alone.

The cuts are spread across the spectrum of S&T-related activities, from data collection and information services to education support, administration of extramural programs and capital. Hardest hit in dollar terms in the past year is information services, which dropped 8.7% from $759 million to $693 million. In percentage terms,. administration of extramural programs declined 10.6% from $85 million to $76 million.

The cuts have inevitably led to an across-the-board downsizing of federal scientific personnel. In the same five-year period, S&T staff was cut by 3,405 or 8.8% from 39,594 in FY1-0-11 to 35,189 in FY14-15.

Statistics Canada itself has been particularly hard hit, with its staff dropping from 5,691 to 4,340 or 18.9% over the past five years. The National Research Council has also been downsizing, cutting 626 people or 14.3% of its staff since FY10-11.

National Defence S&T personnel that work for Defence R&D Canada have seen a significant downsizing — 329 positions or 14.6% cut in the same period.

Staffing in the catch-all category of ‘Other' is down 729 people or 10.2%.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's staff has shrunk from 1,851 to 1,709 for a 14.2% decline, while staff at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada declined from 2,422 to 2,132 or 12%. Industry Canada staff dropped from 1,029 to 848 (17.6%).

Natural Resources Canada fared somewhat better, dropping from 2,760 to 2,580 for a 7% decline. The Canadian Space Agency also experienced a single digit staffing decline, dropping 7.1% from 693 in FY10-11 to 644 in FY14-15.

The data show that staffing at the remaining S&T-intensive departments (Environment Canada, Health Canada) and the granting councils is largely stagnant.

Sole increase in staff

The only department or agency that experienced an increase is the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, up 19.5% from 2,372 to 2,835

Whether the government plans to reverse the declines with the release of a refreshed S&T Strategy isn't known. A planned conference set for earlier this year never occurred and many are now saying the strategy is overdue (R$, November 26/13).

In the past year, spending on natural sciences and engineering (NSE) S&T was particularly hard hit, declining $497 million from $8.35 billion in FY13-14 to $7.85 billion in FY14-15. The cuts were particularly harsh in the areas of federal intramural expenditures and support for businesses. Support for NSE in higher education dropped a marginal $20 million or 0.8%.

The social sciences and humanities fared somewhat better, dropping 3.6% from $2.52 billion to $2.43 billion. Federal intramural spending declined $50 million, support to business was down by $14 million and not-for-profit institutions dropped by $11 million.

R$

Federal Expenditures – S&T, R&D, RSA

($ millions)
Current DollarsConstant 2002 Dollars
Main    Main    
YearEstimatesS&TR&DRSAIPI *EstimatesS&TR&DRSA
2001-02 165,234 8,169 4,989 3,180 84.6 195,312 9,656 5,897 3,759 
2002-03 170,367 8,014 4,927 3,087 85.6 199,027 9,362 5,756 3,606 
2003-04 175,937 8,765 5,462 3,303 88.5 198,799 9,904 6,172 3,732 
2004-05 183,290 8,934 5,454 3,480  91.4  200,536 9,775 5,967 3,807 
2005-06 194,863 9,449 6,042 3,407 94.3 206,642 10,020 6,407 3,613 
2006-07 207,986 9,633 6,073 3,560 96.9 214,640 9,941 6,267 3,674 
2007-08r 230,772 10,176 6,521 3,655 100.0 230,772 10,176 6,521 3,655 
2008-09r241,308 10,573 6,573 4,000 103.9 232,250 10,176 6,326 3,850 
2009-10r236,135 11,614 7,374 4,239 101.7 232,188 11,420 7,251 4,168 
2010-11r261,200 12,014 7,745 4,269 104.4 250,192 11,508 7,419 4,089 
2011-12r250,786 11,395 7,030 4,365 107.7 232,856 10,580 6,527 4,053 
2012-13r227,570 11,166 7,039 4,128 109.5 207,826 10,197 6,428 3,770 
2013-14r232,580 10,868 6,864 4,005 111.0 209,720 9,800 6,189 3,611 
2014-15p235,330 10,281 6,504 3,777      
* implicit price index; r - revised; p - projected

Federal S&T Expenditures by major departments and agencies

($ millions)
Major departments and agencies10-1111-1212-1313-1414-15   
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada425   429   515   493   410   
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited640   462   491   486   459   
Canada Foundation for Innovation473   441   563   445   464   
Canadian Institutes of Health Research1,041   1,019   1,004   1,004   996   
Canadian International Development Agency402   438   415   418   388   
Canadian Space Agency351   389   300   406   444   
Environment Canada728   653   640   702   642   
Fisheries and Oceans Canada281   273   259   280   283   
Health Canada567   509   490   486   399   
Industry Canada705   468   499   450   294   
International Development Research Centre..   ..   236   ..   ..   
National Defence443   372   407   390   418   
National Research Council1,016   807   775   736   688   
Natural Resources Canada778   693   554   516   504   
Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council1,085   1,094   1,085   1,073   1,069   
Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council693   702   700   701   697   
Statistics Canada746   932   681   573   540   
Other departments and agencies1,642   1,714   1,554   1,709   1,586   
Total departments and agencies12,014   11,395   11,166   10,868   10,281   
Source: Statistics Canada



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