Canada

Canada names new chief science adviser

Mona Nemer, a cardiology researcher and vice president of research at the University of Ottawa, has been named Canada’s new chief science adviser by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Scientists need to have a voice,” Trudeau said, making the announcement in Ottawa today.

Nemer’s office will have a CA$2 million budget, and she will report to both Trudeau and Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. Her mandate includes providing scientific advice to government ministers, helping keep government-funded science accessible to the public, and protecting government scientists from being muzzled.She will also deliver an annual report to the Prime Minister and science minister on the state of federal government science. Read more in Science.

Canada’s New Arctic Research Facility Prepares to Open

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay will serve as a base for scientists studying everything from the region’s changing cryosphere to how to best deploy renewable energy projects in northern communities.

THIS OCTOBER, AS winter begins to draw near in the Canadian Arctic, a new research facility will finally open its doors.

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, has been 10 years in the making. First announced by the government in 2007, construction on the C$200 million (US$165 million) facility began in 2014 and should be completed by next year – but the official grand opening is set for October, to coincide with Canada’s 150th birthday year. Read more in Arctic Deeply.

Saving Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy

Canada already has a forward-thinking salmon management plan on the books. Now it just needs to implement it.

When Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon was announced in 2005, it was hailed as a major step forward for fisheries management in the country.

“It was a blueprint for how to manage, rebuild, and conserve wild salmon populations that puts conservation as the number-one priority,” says Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society in Victoria, British Columbia. The most important part of the wild salmon policy, as it’s commonly known, is that it includes strategies and actions to achieve its goals, says Hill.

“That’s what makes the policy special,” he says. “It’s not just empty verbiage; it has some actual meat to it.” Or, it’s supposed to. Read more in Hakai Magazine.

Federal government getting pressed on many sides to adopt Naylor report

Researchers, university administrators, students and others across Canada rally in an unprecedented effort to ensure the government doesn’t ignore the report’s recommendations.

Canada’s academic community has launched a full court press to encourage the government to adopt the recommendations of the report of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review panel, also known as the Naylor report.

The report, requested by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan in June 2016, was drawn up by a panel led by former University of Toronto president David Naylor and released this past April. It found that Canada has been falling behind its international peers in science in recent years, and recommended a major increase in funding for basic, investigator-led research. The panel’s recommendations, if fully implemented, would see annual federal spending on research-related activities increase from approximately $3.5 billion to $4.8 billion over four years. Read more in University Affairs.

How Are We Now? Inuit Health Survey Returns to Nunavik

A health survey of Inuit communities in northern Quebec found widespread food insecurity and other problems 13 years ago. A follow-up now underway will see how much things have changed.

THE CCGS AMUNDSEN, Canada’s Arctic research icebreaker, has begun a unique portion of its summer research schedule – visiting 14 remote Inuit communities along the shore of Hudson Bay and the Hudson Strait in northern Quebec as part of a large-scale survey of the population’s health and well-being. Read more in Arctic Deeply.

Review of Canadian science calls for better oversight, coordination—and more money

To reinvigorate its science base, Canada needs to “reinvest” almost CAD$500 million in basic, investigator-led research over the next 4 years, according to a long-awaited review of the country’s science and innovation landscape released today.

“A crucial shortcoming in the system is the level of support for independent investigator-initiated research,” David Naylor, a former president of the University of Toronto in Canada who led the nine-person review panel, told ScienceInsider. “That support has been squeezed for about a decade.” Read more in Science.

Canada Foundation for Innovation awards $18 million to Amundsen

CFI aims to secure ongoing operation and maintenance funds for research facilities including Canada’s only research icebreaker.

Laval University has received more than $18 million for the research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen in the latest round of funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Science Initiatives Fund.

Over the next five years, the funding will mainly be used to maintain and deploy the coast guard ship’s scientific equipment and to pay the specialised engineers who operate the Arctic research vessel, says Louis Fortier, the Amundsen’s scientific director. But the money will also be used to subsidize some scientific projects that need a little extra cash. Read more in University Affairs.

Canada’s government scientists get anti-muzzling clause in contract

Scientists working for the Canadian government have successfully negotiated a clause in their new contract that guarantees their right to speak to the public and the media about science and their research, without needing approval from their managers.

“Employees shall have the right to express themselves on science and their research, while respecting the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector … without being designated as an official media spokesperson,” the new clause states. Read more in Science.

‘Ransomware’ cyberattack highlights vulnerability of universities

Staff at Canadian university given little guidance on how to mitigate future problems.

The first Patrick Feng knew about a cyberattack on his university was when one of his colleagues told him that her computer had been infected by hackers and rendered unusable.

Feng, who studies technology and sustainability policy at the University of Calgary in Canada, immediately checked the Dropbox folder that he was sharing with that colleague — and found that it, too, had been compromised.

“The hackers had created encrypted copies of all my Dropbox files and deleted the originals,” he says. “And there was a ransom note demanding bitcoin to unlock them.” Read more in Nature.

Drugs are going missing, but why?

Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, a hematologist and medical historian at Queen’s University in Kingston, first became aware that certain drugs were sometimes getting hard to find in 2010, when her patient at a cancer clinic wanted to stop chemotherapy because she couldn’t get prochlorperazine, a common anti-nausea drug.

Duffin was shocked. “I just couldn’t believe that it was gone. It is a very old, reliable drug that has been around for a long time and it was the only one that worked for her.”

Duffin started investigating and quickly discovered the problem went far beyond an old anti-nausea drug. Read more in CMAJ.