Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System: Terms of reference


The advisory panel will provide independent, expert policy advice to support the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry (ISI) and the Minister of Health in delivering on their mandate letter commitment to "modernize the federal research funding ecosystem to maximize the impact of investments in both research excellence and downstream innovation". To better respond to government priorities and the needs of the modern research enterprise, the panel will review and recommend improvements to the structure, governance, and management of the federal system of support for academic research, with particular focus on the three federal granting agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The panel's advice will be directed towards ensuring that federal support for Canada's academic research enterprise is:

  • coordinated and cohesive, balancing respect for the needs of disciplinary communities with a holistic perspective across disciplines and across research, training, and associated infrastructure;
  • responsive to the multi- and inter-disciplinary, collaborative, and international approaches that are increasingly the hallmark of transformative research and innovation; and,
  • sufficiently agile to seize new opportunities and address emerging research, economic and societal needs and interests.

In the context of modernization of the research support system, the panel will also provide:

  • advice on the structures and governance to better support talent development and retention, and knowledge mobilization, commercialization and innovation; and
  • feedback on the government's proposed framework for federal decision-making on investments in major research facilities (MRFs) as it relates to its recommendations on the broader academic research enterprise.


The panel will be led by a Chair who is an individual external to government who maintains high standing within the science, research and innovation sphere.

The panel will be comprised of five to eight members (including the Chair), representing a complementary mix of expertise and experience. The panel will represent a range of perspectives including active researchers, senior administrators at post-secondary institutions, and individuals from other sectors who are partners in Canada's research ecosystem (e.g., industry and non-governmental organizations). Respect for regional and equity, diversity and inclusion considerations will be ensured in selecting Panel members.

Members will serve in their own right, not as representatives of any particular organization, area or special interest, and will be chosen based on their individual accomplishments and expertise in the science, research and innovation sphere.

The Ministers may, at any time: extend the service of members on the panel; appoint new members to the panel; remove members from the panel; or disband the panel.

Roles and responsibilities of the panel chair

The chair will be responsible for providing leadership and guidance on the work of the panel. This will include:

  • chairing panel meetings;
  • facilitating productive engagement of, and interaction among, panel members, to encourage open and respectful sharing of diverse perspectives and ideas;
  • ensuring that panel advice is independent and evidence-based;
  • serving as the liaison between the panel and the Minister(s); and
  • performing other duties relevant to the panel's mandate as requested by the Minister(s).

The chair, in consultation with the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Deputy Minister of Health Canada, will have the discretion (subject to the budget established by ISED and Health Canada) to establish the rules and procedures under which meetings are conducted.

Panel Governance and Operations

The panel is established as an ad-hoc advisory body with a time-limited term of three months with the possibility of extension, reporting to the Ministers of ISI and Health. While members have been selected for their individual expertise and experience, they are to provide advice as a group. To the extent possible, decisions, advice, and recommendations shall be achieved by consensus. Where consensus cannot be achieved, substantive differences of opinion will be reported to the Ministers by the panel chair.

With the direction of the chair and the support of a secretariat housed at ISED, the panel would undertake its work through a series of structured meetings, each centred on a set of key questions. Meetings will take place over the course of the fall, with the goal of concluding the panel's work by the end of December. Briefing material will be provided to panel members in advance of meetings to support their participation in the discussion.

All members will be reimbursed for reasonable travel and other expenses incurred in the conduct of panel business, in accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures and relevant provisions of the Financial Administration Act.

Communications and deliverables

In pursuing its mandate, and to strengthen its advice, the panel may engage with experts and stakeholders to expand access to diverse experience, expertise and opinion, and enhance members' understanding of the topics at hand.

To allow for frank and open discussion, internal panel deliberations among members will be closed.

The panel will deliver a final confidential report by December 2022 to the Ministers including recommendations and considerations regarding the modernization of the research support system. A summary of the panel's observations on the state of the federal research support system may be made public once its deliberations have concluded. The Ministers may also choose to seek confidential advice and/or feedback from the panel on other issues related to the research system.

The panel may also be asked to deliver an interim confidential report to the Ministers by November 2022, which will provide the panel's preliminary observations up to that point.

Funding and administrative support

A dedicated secretariat will be provided, to be housed at ISED, to offer analytical, advisory and administrative support to the panel, including: organizing panel meetings; researching and preparing briefing materials; arranging expert speakers for panel sessions (if and as required); and assisting in preparation of deliverables.

Panel confidentiality

Panel member discussions are to be confidential. Correspondence among panel members is also to be considered confidential and must not be shared with any non-panel members. Draft and final briefs, letters, reports, or sections thereof provided to the panel, must also be treated as confidential unless otherwise directed by ISED and Health Canada.

Conflict of interest

Panelists are expected to abide by Treasury Board policies on Apparent Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment. All panelists are expected to declare any real or perceived conflict of interest to the chair. Panelists may be recused from discussions and/or decisions on those issues from which the real or perceived conflict arises.