International Advocacy Toolkit: Canada

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Organizing Questions

  1. Which organization/s are significant sources of research funding? 

  2. What does the normal science funding/policy decision-making process look like?

  3. Which patient advocacy groups, if any, are active in the area?

  4. Are there existing national/regional organizations that work towards improving research funding/policy?

  5. How do scientists currently contribute to the existing funding/policy-making/advocacy process, if at all? 

  6. When are science funding/policy decisions made? 

  7. What kinds of opportunities exist for scientists to interact with funders and policymakers?

Which organization/s are significant sources of research funding? 

There are significant sources of funding for vision related research in Canada:

In addition, Canadian researchers are also eligible to apply for NIH grants in the USA.

What does the normal science funding/policy decision-making process look like?

Usually the funding decision-making is based on peer/scientific review ranking, which involves 2-3 reviewers’ comments and suggestions. The evaluation criteria vary from one funding agency to another, but mostly are:

  • Significance and Impact of the Research
  • Approaches and Methods
  • Expertise, Experience and Resources

 Patient engagement is part of the evaluation criteria in some grant applications, but not all.

Which patient advocacy groups, if any, are active in the area?

In Canada, well-known patient advocacy groups are Patients Canada (http://www.patientscanada.ca) and the Change Foundation (http://www.changefoundation.ca). They are active in “bringing the authentic patient voice to health care decision-making, ensuring decisions reflect patient priorities.”

The Glaucoma Research Society of Canada (http://www.glaucomaresearch.ca) is a patient run group. It is the only Canadian charity solely dedicated to raising money to fund glaucoma research. Funds are usually raised from pharmaceutical companies and public donations.

Are there existing national/regional organizations that work towards improving research funding/policy?

Yes, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR): http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/37788.html

How do scientists currently contribute to the existing funding/policy-making/advocacy process, if at all? 

Scientists contribute through participating in peer-review process.

When are science funding/policy decisions made? 

Depending on the funding agency, annually or biannually on a set schedule or as needed.

What kinds of opportunities exist for scientists to interact with funders and policymakers?

Opportunities exist for scientists to interact with funders and policymakers for some funding agencies, e.g. the CIHR does hold open meetings at various universities to collect researchers’ comments and suggestions regarding the application and evaluation process.

Contributor: Yaping Jin (University of Toronto)