The only agency that regularly finances large-scale science in Canada was shut out of Tuesday's federal budget, putting at risk thousands of jobs and some of the most promising medical research, and forcing the country to pull out of key international projects.
For the first time in nine years, Genome Canada, a non-profit non-governmental funding organization, was not mentioned in the federal budget and saw its annual cash injection from Ottawa - $140-million last year - disappear.
"We got nothing, nothing, and we don't know why," said a stunned Martin Godbout, Genome Canada president and CEO. "We're devastated."
The news spread like a virus through the research community yesterday as the country's top scientists wondered whether the oversight was a mistake. Genome Canada supports 33 major research projects in areas such as genomics, agriculture and cancer stem cells with operating grants of $10-million a year. The projects employ more than 2,000 people. By comparison, medical research grants from the federally funded Canadian Institutes of Health Research run in the $100,000-a-year range.