Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CMAJ voices concern over budget

Much like what was echoed here, the CMAJ isn't too impressed with cuts to science in favor of shovel-ready cheap fixes to the economy. They warn of massive brain drain and irreparable setbacks to Canadian science:

"In economics, as in clinical practice, treating acute deteriorations does not obviate the need for a long-term care plan. The crisis in Canada’s resource sectors in particular, while urgent, is a reminder that government investment must aim to substitute science and technology industries for the volatile “found” wealth of oil, mining and forestry.
These cuts to science and technology arrive despite the federal government agreeing that deficit spending is fair game when stimulating the economy. In saying yes to deficits and
stimulus, yet being lukewarm to science, the unmistakable message from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is that science is unimportant in Canada’s economy.
Meanwhile, the stimulus package in the United States could hardly be more different. Both the House and Senate agree on adding US$3.9 billion of new money to the National
Institutes of Health budget — a 13% increase."

The answer, according to the editorial, is stronger lobbying in Ottawa. They argue that most of the population understands that resources such as oil will not suffice to keep the country prosperous, and that this message must be relayed to the Harper governement:

" Clearly, health researchers and other stakeholders must ensure that politicians hear about the importance of research from their constituents. It is a small wonder that funding is decreasing or that opposition parties in Parliament have not demanded more spending for knowledge-based sectors. Next, health researchers and professionals as well as institutions and lobbyists must ensure that the public and politicians recognize that Canadian scientists and doctors are capable of home runs."

You can read the rest of the article here.