Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of Canada’s universities, I am writing to express the deep disappointment of the university sector with the lack of investments in research, international education or student mental health in this week’s federal budget.
As we face uncertain economic times, Canada’s universities help shape the people and ideas which will be vital to powering future prosperity and tackling the big challenges facing the world. This is reflected in recent polling by Nanos which identified Canada’s universities and colleges as top contributors to making the country better. Your government has set out a vision to build a clean economy of the future, but has failed to recognize the role universities must play to ensure the success of this plan, from educating the talent to grow new sectors of the economy to fostering the discoveries which will power green innovations in Canadian industry.
While this week’s budget has been compared with the United State’s green industrial strategy, in fact, the budget completely overlooks the ground-breaking investments in discovery research being made by the United States and other competitors.
Your government’s own advisory panel on the federal research support system recently issued its final report which recognized that Canada is falling behind international competition in support for research and recommended that your government increase research funding and boost scholarships for graduate students. Canada must step up and implement these recommendations. Without action, we will lose out in the global race for talent and the opportunities of new innovation through discovery research.
At the same time, Canada’s excellent reputation for attracting international students and faculty continues to be damaged by delays in work and study visa processing. Despite this, this week’s budget made no new investments in Canada’s immigration system to address these challenges. International education brings more than $22 billion to the Canadian economy and attracts top talent to study and work here. It is short sighted to put this at risk by failing to adequately fund Canada’s struggling immigration system.
Failure to make these important investments now will be to the detriment of Canada’s future. Our global competitors are investing heavily to attract and retain top talent and what is clear from this budget is that Canada is not.
Time is also running out to provide the direct support to a cohort of students whose mental health has been deeply impacted by the challenges of the pandemic. However, this week’s budget failed to deliver on your government’s promise to create a $500 million fund for student mental health support on campuses. We encourage your government to move quickly to deliver this urgently needed help.
We are at a critical moment for Canada and this budget missed the mark on investing to secure Canada’s future prosperity. Throughout the pandemic, Canada’s universities delivered: for students; in research; and as stabilizers and catalysts in their communities. Canada’s universities are an essential partner in advancing social and economic renewal.
We look forward to working with you, your cabinet colleagues, and all parliamentarians to ensure Canada can achieve its full potential.
cc: The Hon. Pierre Poilievre, P.C., M.P, Leader of the Official Opposition
Yves-François Blanchet, M.P., Leader of the Bloc Québécois
Jagmeet Singh, M.P., Leader of the New Democratic Party
Tagged: Research and innovation
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