Federal S&T expenditures may be tapering off but universities enjoy major increase

Guest Contributor
December 7, 2004

The federal government intends to devote five cents towards S&T for every dollar it spends in FY04-5, with nearly two thirds going to R&D. Ottawa plans to spend $9.2 billion this year, an increase of 2% over the $9.0 billion it’s forecasted to spend in FY03-4. The big story behind the numbers continues to be funding to the higher education sector, which is slated to receive an annual increase of $238 million or 10.4% in FY04-05. Other sectors remain relatively stagnant.

The latest data from Statistics Canada — taken from the Budgetary Main Estimates — indicates that federal spending on S&T appears to be levelling off after several years of impressive growth between FY98-9 and FY03-4, although the amounts could change as the data are finalized.

Of the funding going to higher education, 78.7% is accounted for by the granting councils. Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC) is the recipient of the single largest portion of federal funding at $814 million, followed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) at $719 million. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) receives the least amount of funding at $541 million. However, the FY04-05 total includes $245 million flow-through funding from the Indirect Costs program for university research, as well as SSHRC’s share of the Canada Research Chairs and Canada Graduate Scholarships programs.

The Indirect Costs program is administered by the secretariat of the Canada Research Chairs program which is housed at SSHRC. But SSHRC only receives a small portion of indirect costs, making the allocation of the total program budget to SSHRC’s budget misleading.

Despite the hike to university spending, intramural expenditures comprise the majority of federal outlays. Federal departments and agencies (SBDAs) are on track to spend $4.9 billion on S&T in FY04-05, virtually on par from the previous year but up substantially from FY00-01 when they spent $4.0 billion.

The National Research Council (NRC) is the biggest SBDA spender of S&T at $803 million, followed by Environment Canada at $721 million (including funding for Sustainable Development Technologies Canada).

Broken down by discipline, the natural sciences account for $6.9 billion or 75.6% of the S&T total, with the remainder ($2.2 billion) devoted to the social sciences for a 24.4% share.

R&D accounts for $5.8 billion or 63.1% of total S&T spending in FY04-05, up $109 million from FY03-04. Of that amount, $2.3 billion will go to higher education, $2.2 billion will be spent intramurally, and $726 million will be used to support businesses.


($ millions)
Higher Education2,53527.6
Canadian Business1,02111.1
Cdn Non-Profit Institutions3343.6
Other Canadian1071.2

The gap between the natural and social sciences is even more pronounced when measured by R&D. Natural sciences command $5.1 billion or 88.3% of the total, leaving $681 million for the social sciences.

The NRC is Canada’s biggest R&D spender at $728 million, followed by NSERC ($716 million), CIHR ($712 million), SSHRC ($464 million) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($419 million).

When examined by socio-economic objectives, public health takes the largest share of S&T and it’s also the faster growing area. In FY02-03 (the last year for which actual data is available), public health-related S&T spending was $1.25 billion — $906 extramural and $344 intramural. That’s up 21.7% from the year before and up 58.2% from FY00-01 when it was $790 million.

S&T spending on social structures and relationships was nearly as much ($1.22 billion — $241 million extramural and $797 intramural), followed by industrial production and technology ($941 million — $685 extramural and $246 intramural).

Other socio-economic areas of significance include: exploration and exploitation of the earth ($549 million), pollution and protection of the environment ($548 million), agricultural production and technology ($513 million), exploration and exploitation of space ($394 million) and defence ($346 million).



($ millions)
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada359351387363337320323335
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd174135132136178147179162
Canada Foundation for Innovation231118188239332383419
Cdn Institutes of Health Research----317392529628698719
Cdn International Devt Agency303314335358387352341403
Canadian Space Agency230343305310330320307312
Environment Canada453427538479626574799721
Fisheries and Oceans204281287367319363327331
Genome Canada----34628184
Health Canada210204236229311342382384
Industry Canada407343301336687424445373
International Devt Research Centre78858284768692104
Medical Research Council238277------------
National Defence311304335315315358439460
National Research Council524554597655719793804803
Natural Resources Canada396386421437554511493500
Statistics Canada400437461576727579616615
Source: Statistics Canada - Science Statistics Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 11

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