Friday, July 22, 2011

Canadian Conservatives Slash NRC Budget

The Canadian Conservatives have cut almost $200 million from the budget of the National Research Council of Canada. The Harper governments cuts eliminate more than 20 percent of the NRC's budget.

The National Research Council promotes leading-edge technological research and is the Government of Canada's premier organization for research and development. For almost 100 years the NRC has been contributing to more informed decision making. This year, the NRC named sustainable energy as one of its three national priority areas.
As reported in the Ottawa Citiz
en, The NRC's total budget was $881,137,581 in the last fiscal year; in 2011-12, it has been reduced to $690,836,000. These cuts will result in the elimination of 25 science jobs across the country.

"The loss of institutional knowledge will be huge," said Gary Corbett, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPPS), the scientists' union. "You can't just drain knowledge from the public sector. It will be devastating to Canada in future years, but the government doesn't seem to care."

Although the numbers of people cut is devastating, the loss of expertise is debilitating. "If you have a rocket scientist going out the door, you can't replace that person with an insect scientist," Corbett said.

While some departments are being gutted other are getting budget increases. Corrections Canada is getting an increase even though crime is at a 40 year low. Government departments associated with the environments are being singled out for cuts. With a combined total of almost half a billion dollars being cut at the NRC, Environment Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, it is clear that this is not just about across the board cost cutting.

Why are the federal Conservatives cutting spending in departments associated with the environment? Perhaps it is because these cuts serve to weaken the institutions that may contradict a Conservative energy agenda that is mired in the tar sands.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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