With respect to advocating for postdocs at the federal level, there are few opportunities that surpass that offered by engaging in Federal Budget consultations.

Towards that goal, CAPS/ACSP recently submitted a Pre-Budget Brief in advance of the 2019 Federal Budget to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Finance (FINA).

Our brief focused on identifying the major challenges facing Canadian postdoctoral trainees and providing recommendations to address those challenges in order to improve recruitment and retention of Canadian-trained researchers.

Summary of Recommendations for the 2019 Budget

  1. Amend the Employment Insurance Act to clearly define all postdoctoral scholars working in Canada as employees of the institutions where they conduct research and other scholarly activities, regardless of citizenship or source of funding.
  2. Create a uniform national policy on postdoctoral research and training that defines all postdocs as both trainees and employees, and establishes:
    • a minimum gross annual income starting at $47,500/year for all postdocs and increasing by 2% for each additional year of postdoctoral training;
    • access to statutory (EI and CPP) and workplace benefits; and
    • additional support / training requirements for postdoctoral employers.
  3. Increase Tri-Agency funding to offset the increased labour costs associated with new minimum standards and the following additional expenses:
    • Increase the stipend for all Tri-Agency fellowships (except Banting) to $50,000/year to start (+$5,000 research allowance) and increase by 2% per year of additional training.
    • Adjust the annual stipend for awards physically held outside of Canada to reflect differences (and/or changes) in currency exchange rates (up to a maximum of $10,000).
    • Increase the duration of fellowships to 3 years for SSHRC- and NSERC-related disciplines and 4 years for CIHR-related disciplines (as per the Naylor Report).
    • Eliminate limits on the duration of postdoctoral support from Tri-Agency grants
    • Increase the number of fellowships available for all three funding agencies to maintain a success rate of at least 25% and allocate 20% of those awards to international postdocs.
    • Create new funding opportunities for senior postdocs to support those who are close to being competitive for (or in the process of transitioning to) faculty positions.
    • Create new funding opportunities specifically geared towards indigenous postdocs
    • Establish a pool of smaller awards for trainees to support professional development and career transitions for PhDs and postdocs seeking non-tenure track careers.
  4. Provide subsidies to institutions based on number of postdoctoral trainees to support:
    • access to on-campus services and support for postdocs (e.g., ombudsmen, career counseling, health and wellness services, immigration support, etc.);
    • professional development programming specific to postdocs;
    • childcare / housing allowances for postdocs; and
    • administrative costs.
  5.  Establish funds to:
    • monitor postdoctoral employment conditions and policies at the institutional, provincial, and national levels;
    • track postdoctoral labour market outcomes; and
    • promote the value of postdoctoral and PhD training to non-academic employers.
  6.  Increase investments / incentives for research and development in non-academic sectors drive the creation of jobs that require PhD-level training

Click here to download a pdf of the full brief
CAPS/ACSP 2019 Pre-Budget Brief: Investing in Canada’s Postdoctoral Training System

At present, the Canadian postdoctoral training system does not provide a level of support that is competitive with other nations with respect to the recruitment and retention of highly qualified personnel. The full implementation of the recommendations in this pre-budget brief would change that and transform the Canadian postdoctoral training system to boost our capacity to attract, develop, and retain highly qualified personnel. This would position our country as a world leader in innovation and advanced post-graduate research and training.

To support the recommendations made in the CAPS/ACSP 2019 Pre-Budget Brief share the brief and your comments on social media using #PostdocBudget.