Ottawa - The Honourable Vic Toews, President of the Treasury Board, today announced the creation of an independent panel of experts to provide advice on transferring federal non-regulatory laboratories, including a range of different management options. With this announcement, the government is delivering on its Budget 2007 commitment.

"Our laboratories conduct research that benefits all Canadians. I have asked this panel to advise the government on different options for managing non-regulatory federal laboratories so that Canada benefits from a strong and collaborative science and technology sector," said Minister Toews.

This panel is comprised of individuals with extensive experience and leadership in Canada 's science and technology community. Dr. Arnold Naimark of Manitoba will chair the panel. Other members of the panel are: Dr. Kevin Keough of Alberta, Dr. Kelvin Ogilvie of Nova Scotia, and Dr. Clive Willis of Québec.

"This is an important opportunity to strengthen collaboration and advance research," said Dr. Naimark. "Considering different arrangements for managing laboratories will bring the views of government, academia and the private sector together to find innovative ways to further advance our common research goals."

  • The panel will focus on four key objectives:
  • Increasing the impact of federal investments in research
  • Fostering research excellence
  • Enhancing learning and transfer of knowledge
  • Leveraging the strengths of government, university and private sector research

The Panel will report back to the President of the Treasury Board in Fall 2007, including identifying up to five federal non-regulatory laboratories that could be considered candidates for early transfer.

"I am delighted such eminent Canadians from the science and technology community have agreed to be part of this panel," Minister Toews concluded. "Each one brings broad experience and a balance of perspectives from across Canada."

Attached is a backgrounder with information on the mandate of the panel and biographical information on the panel members.

Backgrounder: Independent Expert Panel on Federal Laboratories

Mandate: The Independent Expert Panel will report to the President of the Treasury Board, providing advice and options on transferring federal non-regulatory laboratories to universities or the private sector. The Panel will report back to the President of the Treasury Board in Fall 2007.

Background:

Federal government laboratories conduct a broad range of scientific activities including regulatory activities, knowledge advancement, and economic and social development.

Some laboratories focus primarily on regulatory functions such as testing food for contaminates. Other laboratories focus on more research-oriented non-regulatory functions. Only non-regulatory functions will be early candidates for transfer.

Science and technology (S&T), carried out by government, private and academic sectors is a cornerstone of the national innovation system. Government S&T plays a key role in that system and researchers interact with other sectors and organizations, both in Canada and internationally, to bring the benefits of federal S&T investments to Canadians. The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening the effectiveness of its investments in S&T to ensure Canadians benefit from scientific innovation and that Canada continues to have a competitive advantage.

Budget 2007 signalled the Government's desire to explore different options for managing its non-regulatory laboratories by creating the independent panel of experts to assist in this exploration. This intention was echoed in Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage, released in May 2007, which stated that the government would focus its activities in areas where government is best able to deliver results, and consider alternative management for non-regulatory federal laboratories.

Next steps

In the coming months, the Panel will engage key stakeholders, take into account the diversity of federal science activities and consider a broad range of options for transferring federal laboratories to universities or the private sector. The Panel will report back to the President of the Treasury Board in Fall 2007. The report will include identification of up to five laboratories that could be considered as early candidates for transfer.

Backgrounder: Independent Expert Panel on Federal Laboratories

Member Biographies

Dr. Arnold Naimark, President Emeritus and Dean of Medicine Emeritus and Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Manitoba, is currently Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Medicine, and Chair of Health Canada's Ministerial Science Advisory Board and Chairman of Genome Prairie. Dr. Naimark will serve as Chair of the Expert Panel, bringing decades of experience in leadership positions in higher education and research, academic medicine, science and technology policy, biotechnology and organizational design and function to the panel. Dr. Naimark resides in Manitoba.

Dr. Kevin Keough, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at Memorial University, is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and a founder of NovaLipids Incorporated. Dr. Keough has served as Chief Scientist at Health Canada and Deputy Chair of the Council of Science and Technology Advisors. Prior to having joined Health Canada, he was the first Vice President of Research and International Relations at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Dr. Keough provides the panel with a range of private sector, government, and academic experience related to science and technology and innovation. Dr. Keough resides in Alberta.

Dr. Kelvin Ogilvie is Professor of Chemistry and Past President and Vice-Chancellor of Acadia University and one of the world's leading experts on biotechnology, bio-organic chemistry, and genetic engineering. Dr. Ogilvie has worked with numerous organizations including the Atomic Energy Control Board and the National Biotechnology Advisory Committee, and serves on the Board of Genome Canada, the Atlantic Innovation Fund Advisory Board and the NRC Institute for Marine Biosciences Advisory Board. Dr. Ogilvie also served as Chair of the Premier's Council on Innovation in Nova Scotia. Dr. Ogilvie's academic experience, combined with his experience in innovation and commercialization, will greatly benefit the panel. Dr. Ogilvie resides in Nova Scotia.

Dr. Clive Willis established himself as a private consultant after having served in several positions at the Vice President level at the National Research Council of Canada, including that of Vice-President of Research. Dr. Willis has served on a number of boards and committees at regional, national and international levels including co-chairing the National Technology Table as part of the National Climate Change Process. Dr. Willis played a key role in establishing a number of not-for-profit, innovation-driven coordinating organizations including, most recently, NanoQuébec, where he assumed the role of Director General. Dr. Willis provides the panel with a range of government, private sector, and not-for-profit experience related to innovation, science and technology. Dr. Willis resides in Quebec