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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a $450-million support package for Canada's academic research community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commitment supports the non-COVID-19 based research enterprise in Canada, which has been facing a critical financial situation since the suspension of these research activities during the pandemic. These new funds will mitigate large-scale job losses and help to ensure that as medical research organizations begin to restart research, they will be in a strong position to do so.
"We applaud the federal government for providing crucial support to sustain Canada's hospital-based biomedical researchers through this period where this critical research has been interrupted," said Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice President for Science and Research.
"Canada's health researchers are global leaders in driving improvements in disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. This support will help ensure these researchers will be able to contribute to COVID-19 research and to rapidly resume progress against the entire spectrum of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and infectious diseases."
UHN has been playing a leading role in raising awareness with the federal government of the current financial stress and the lack of access to emergency funds.
Along with partner institutions within the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN), the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO), the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), Research Canada and HealthCareCAN, a proposal was submitted in mid-April. This was followed by an intense advocacy campaign involving many groups and officials within the federal government and within the media.
Last week, Dr. Wouters raised this issue as a witness before the standing committee of Health at the House of Commons. He has also done interviews with iPolitics, the
Toronto Star, the CBC National News and with 640 local radio.
Dr. Wouters has been joined on this effort by many others including Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, and Michael Burns, President & CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.
Hospital-based health research is valued at $3 billion annually in Canada and employs more than 50,000 people. UHN is the country's largest research hospital with an annual research budget of more than $450 million and over 5,000 employees comprising scientists, staff and trainees.
"Science is the way forward," says Dr. Wouters. "Today, the federal government has sent us a signal that they are investing in our future – not only to fight COVID-19, but also the diseases that affect human health and well-being."
Read the Prime Minister's announcement