The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should be commended for using new funds provided in the last Budget to boost its depleted research capacity and forge new partnerships and collaborations in ocean science and related fields of energy, marine conservation and climate change. Taking a multi-sectoral approach to solving the pressing challenges facing Canada’s oceans and waterways demonstrates the kind of leadership government science needs more of.
DFO suffered significant budget reductions under the previous government, restraining its historical role as a conductor and convenor of talent and expertise. An infusion of 135 new science personnel, a partnership fund to assist others in the sector and alignment with other organizations in the research ecosystem will go far in restoring its ability to fulfill its mandate.
Its forward-thinking strategy can serve as a model for other departments, even those with extensive collaborative relationships. It may also be time to boost inter-departmental collaboration by re-visiting the concept of a Department of Science and Technology. Dubbed ScienceCan, the idea was floated last year by an Expert Advisory Group on Government Science and Technology chaired by Ken Knox (R$, December 10/15).
By marshalling and coordinating our collective S&T expertise — both public and private — Canada will be far better equipped to compete globally in a way that is sustainable and evidence-based. Sound STI policy will pay big dividends as Canada re-tools for the knowledge-based economy.