Government of Canada Takes Action to Increase Equity, Diversity in Research

News Release

Changes to the Canada Research Chairs Program will lead to greater diversity among Canada’s leading scientists

November 2, 2017—Ottawa—Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

Science is strongest when all people—regardless of their gender, race or heritage—are encouraged to ask questions, share their ideas and shape how we understand the world around us. The Government of Canada understands this and is committed to fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in the sciences so that all Canadians have the chance to discover and innovate in ways that lead to news skills and jobs, a cleaner environment and a stronger economy.

To deliver on this commitment, Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science, today announced a series of changes to the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP). The changes are informed by recommendations made in the Fundamental Science Review and include:

  • Limiting Tier 1 Chairs to a single renewal, allowing chairholders to hold a maximum of two, seven-year terms;
  • Allowing universities additional flexibility to convert chairs between Tier 1 and Tier 2 and across disciplines until December 2019, to promote greater uptake of diverse researchers into these prestigious positions; and
  • Revising the distribution of regular chair allocations across the federal research granting councils to promote research excellence in the natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.

By announcing these changes, Minister Duncan continues to implement policies that address the chronic underrepresentation of women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities in the CRCP.

In addition to these changes, universities have been given a deadline of this December to submit Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans that will map out how they will meet the diversity and equity targets. Universities that do not meet their targets risk having new CRCP funding withdrawn.

By creating a welcoming culture of science, the Minister is ensuring the future of Canadian research is diverse, inclusive and open to all talented people who are eager to make a difference in the sciences.


"We must make every effort to give more people—women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities—the chance to make their greatest contribution to research. Today’s changes to the CRCP will encourage greater diversity in research and will show Canadians that they have a place in science no matter their gender, race or heritage."

—Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science 

“The Canada Research Chairs Program is building research excellence in Canada through its pursuit of a more equitable, diverse and inclusive research landscape. As such, it is the cornerstone of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Chair of the Canada Research Chairs Program Steering Committee

Quick Facts

  • The Canada Research Chairs Program invests approximately $265 million per year to help postsecondary institutions attract and retain the world’s most accomplished and promising minds.

  • There are currently 1,659 active chairholders at 76 institutions across Canada.

  • This series of changes is another example of the government taking action in response to the advice of the Fundamental Science Review. The move also follows recommendations made by the 15th-year evaluation of the Canada Research Chairs Program.

  • The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Canada Research Chairs Program.

Associated Links


Ann Marie Paquet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science

Julia Gualtieri
Media Relations Advisor
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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