Message from the President of CIHR: Budget 2012

2012-04-05

As you are aware, the Government of Canada recently released the 2012 Federal Budget. This budget contains a number of items pertinent to the health research community.

The budget announces a $15 million ongoing increase to CIHR's base budget, in support of the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). It also announces $12 million per year in ongoing funding to make the Business-Led NCEs program permanent, which represents an exciting opportunity for striking new partnerships with the private sector.

The budget also provisions $60 million in funding for Genome Canada earmarked for health-related projects; $500 million over five years for the Canada Foundation for Innovation to address pressing infrastructure needs; $17 million in new funding over two years for medical isotopes to build on the success of CIHR-funded research; and new funding for a mental health network. These investments highlight the Government of Canada's strong support and endorsement of health research. Such investments effectively increase the pool of grants and awards available to the community to pursue health research.

In the spirit of the Government of Canada's spending review, CIHR examined all its activities and investments with a view to streamlining operations and ensuring maximum efficiencies. Similar to other departments and agencies, CIHR submitted savings proposals totaling 10% of our review base which is over $1 billion. The budget announced total reductions for CIHR of $15M in the 2012/13 fiscal year and $30M thereafter, which correspond to 1.5% of our total budget in year one and to 3% of our total budget in year two. However, these measures explicitly spare critical programs such as the open operating grants program. In fact, the budget firmly stated that CIHR's programming in support of basic research, student scholarships and industry-related research initiatives and collaborations has been maintained. In protecting CIHR's grants and awards budget, the Government of Canada has signaled that these are core functions of CIHR and will remain so.

As set out in the budget, we will also be working to deliver savings of 5% and 10% in our operating budget over the next two years. At the same time, we are fully committed to pursuing reforms to the peer review system and open operating grants program. CIHR has been developing these reforms for the last two years. In light of the recent federal budget and the impact on CIHR operations, the need for such reforms is more pressing than ever. I welcome continued dialogue and exchange with the research community as we move forward.

Alain Beaudet, MD, PhD
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research