U15 appears in front of House of Commons Standing Committee of Finance

Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee. As the Chair of The U15, I am here representing the group of Canada’s research-intensive universities from across the country. I am also president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo.

Bonjour et merci de me donner l’occasion de me présenter devant votre comité. En tant que président de U15, je suis ici pour représenter le regroupement des universités de recherche du Canada, une fonction que j’exerce en plus de celle de président et vice-chancelier de l’Université de Waterloo.

To give you a sense of the scale of The U15, our 15 universities educate nearly 585,000 people and perform $8.5 billion dollars in research annually – that represents more than a quarter of all research in Canada.

This combination of teaching and research makes Canada’s research-intensive universities a platform on which many of our country’s competitive advantages are built. Research universities:

·       produce ground-breaking discoveries;

·       are training sites for top research and innovation leaders for all sectors of the economy;

·       help attract and retain leading global talent; and

·       contribute expertise to a wide range of commercial and social endeavours.

Fueled by discovery driven research excellence, U15 institutions produce expertise that drives innovative Canadian businesses, informs public policy and develops sustainable approaches that address our most pressing issues, from climate change to Indigenous relations to natural resource development and clean technologies.

To ensure that Canada remains globally competitive with regards to innovation, we need to build on the foundations of research excellence. To this end, The U15 has two strategic and concrete suggestions for investment.

(1) Research investments from Canada’s three granting councils are the backbone of Canada’s research excellence. These investments support discovery-driven research, university-industry research partnerships, recruiting and retaining world-class researchers, and training Canada’s next generation of leaders. Since 2007, inflation has eroded federal funding to the Tri-Council by $176 million. To ensure that Canada’s research excellence platform continues to support our innovation ecosystem, we propose that the government commit to increasing Tri-Council and Research Support Fund funding to their inflation-adjusted 2007-2008 levels over the next four years, and commit to indexing this funding moving forward.

(2) The post-secondary sector is well-poised to stimulate our economy with efficient and effective infrastructure upgrades. Our second proposal is to invest in Canada’s research infrastructure through the Innovative Campus Infrastructure Program. College and university campuses across the country have a wide range of infrastructure needs and upgrades that could improve health and safety, energy efficiency and our capacity to undertake leading-edge research. We surveyed our 15 universities this year, and found an estimated $3.7 billion in shovel-ready on-campus projects, ranging from renewing and expanding teaching laboratories, arts centres and libraries to upgrading heating systems, waste management systems and on-campus lighting to improve energy efficiency. These projects have well-defined parameters and can be implemented in a timely fashion.

These investments will improve Canada’s capacity for ground-breaking research and strengthen our robust research environment, allowing Canada to attract and retain top talent, build strong research clusters and foster the culture of innovation we need to prosper in a sustainable way.

Thank you for your time. I’m happy to answer any questions.

Check against delivery.


Photo caption: U15 Chair Feridun Hamdullahpur and Finance Committee Chair Wayne Easter following pre-budget consultations  (Photo credit: Dylan Hanley, U15).


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