Will the new government bring more research funding to Dal?

Assessing the possibility of campaign promises coming true on campus

Justin Trudeau was elected on the promise of change. Universities across the country are now waiting to hear which of these changes will affect them.

The Liberal leader pledged to commit hundreds of million dollars to fund research all over the country.

What are the chances that Dalhousie will benefit?

It’s hard to say at this point. But John Hutton, the Dalhousie Student Union’s Vice President (Academic and External) says the Liberals made commitments to funding agriculture, industrial research, and clean technology.

He says that government-funded research is important.

“Publicly funded research means research for the public good, usually. It’s a socially beneficial thing that isn’t necessarily profitable right now.”

Funding Promises by the Numbers

The Liberal Party’s platform, New Plan for a Strong Middle Class, made commitments to research funding in several fields.

$100 million – Industrial Research Assistance Program

$100 million – Agricultural Innovation Research

$200 million – Innovation and use of clean technologies

$40 million – ocean science

$1.5 million – freshwater research


Of course, more money in the system doesn’t necessarily mean more money for the university. Dr. Martha Crago is vice-president, research, at Dal. She says that Dalhousie will compete for any new grants that become available.

“I think you can take your biggest signal from the fact that the prime minister-designate showed up at a University Canada meeting the other night. He’s not even in office,” she says.

Crago believes that Trudeau is interested in post-secondary education.

“What is he interested in, in it? I don’t know. Could be research, training, experiential learning.”

Universities in the Maritimes are especially excited about potential new funding, as provincial governments are not as generous with research grants.

“In some provinces, [research funding] is pretty healthy,” says Crago. “The Atlantic Provinces are at the bottom of the barrel for provincial funding.”

She believes that Trudeau’s interest in oceans and climate change is another good sign.

“If the interest in the ocean and the concern with it translates into targeted programs for oceans, that would be super.”

Tom Duck is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences.

“We have a new federal government, and that really changes everything,” Professor Duck said in an email. “There will be more clarity with the first budget.”

University researchers will be watching Prime Minister Designate Trudeau carefully over the next year, and Dr. Crago is staying positive.

“I feel quite optimistic from the provincial point of view and the federal government point of view.”

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