Letters – Canadian government cares about IT

Albert Leonardo’s article “Budget earns mixed reviews” (Jan. 11, 2002, page 1) caught our attention. Specifically the comments by the ITAC president and the team leader (Tony Stansby) from eMPOWR.

In paragraph three the ITAC president said, “In past budgets, technology has not been included under the definition of infrastructure…”

I think the very existence of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) refutes that. The CFI was created by the federal government in 1997 and has invested in well over a hundred IT-related fields.

SHARCNET (a network of high-performance Beowulf computer clusters) is one such example, as is the Canadian Light Source (the synchrotron is a $174 million stadium-sized light-generating device that acts like a giant microscope).

Stansby continues, “The Canadian government, unlike its U.S. counterpart, does not seem to put the same stock in retaining educators.”

Again, the CFI’s existence alone refutes that statement. We at the CFI are responsible for a budget of $3.15 billion. The Foundation’s goal is to strengthen the capability of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and other not-for-profit institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development. Our programs our designed to attract and retain highly-skilled research personnel in Canada. They’re also designed to strengthen research training of young Canadians for the knowledge economy.

We aim to keep the brightest and best researchers in Canada by providing researchers with cutting-edge equipment. Since 1997 we have invested more than $596 million on 1,631 projects at more than 100 institutions across Canada.

The goal, enunciated in 2000 by the federal government, is to make Canada one of the world’s top five most research-intensive nations by 2010.

The CFI isn’t the only government effort in this arena – the Canada Research Chairs program ($564 million) will fund 2,000 top-ranked research positions in Canadian universities by 2005.

Sheila Thurlow

Canada Foundation for Innovation