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SECTION I: DEPARTMENTAL OVERVIEW

Minister's Message

Tony Clement, Minister of IndustryThe past year has been a challenging one for the Canadian economy, as it has been for the economies of all industrialized countries. The global economic crisis put the fiscal and economic frameworks of all countries to the test. But Canada entered the recession with solid fundamentals — balanced budgets, decreasing debt and taxes, a strong financial sector and robust economic policies. Consequently, Canada is in a comparatively good position to effectively respond to this time of economic challenge.

The Industry Portfolio played a significant role in developing Canada's resiliency and ability to weather the current crisis. Composed of 11 departments, agencies, Crown corporations and quasi-judicial bodies, the Portfolio includes major instruments in the Government of Canada's tool kit for building a competitive economy.

In 2008–09, such measures included continued commitment for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Canada's key funding agency for supporting world-class research and the development of talent in the social sciences and humanities, which marked its 30th anniversary in 2008. In 2008–09, SSHRC invested close to $323 million to support research talent, foster research excellence and mobilize the knowledge generated through research activities. The Government of Canada also invested some $328 million in the Indirect Costs Program, which is administered by SSHRC.

In January 2009, the government introduced Canada's Economic Action Plan, which contained stimulative measures to respond to the global recession. Industry Portfolio members played, and will continue to play, a central role in developing and implementing a significant number of these critical initiatives. These measures range from programs to upgrade research infrastructure at Canada's universities and colleges, to helping small businesses bring innovative products to market, to supporting major tourism events, to enhancing community and recreational facilities and other municipal infrastructure in Ontario. For more information, visit the Canada's Economic Action Plan website.

As a country, we are emerging from the recession by creating a climate that encourages innovation, productivity and competitiveness — helping Canadian industry move to the forefront of the global knowledge economy. The Industry Portfolio members, and other federal departments and agencies are working in partnership so that Canada continues to enjoy a high standard of living and a prosperous future.

It is my pleasure to present SSHRC's Departmental Performance Report for 2008–09.

Tony Clement

Minister of Industry

President's Message

Chad Gaffield, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research CouncilThe Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) marked its 30th anniversary in 2008. As the federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities, SSHRC enables the highest levels of research excellence and is contributing to a strong foundation of Canadian knowledge and expertise that influences policy and practice on a wide range of social, economic and cultural issues. The quality of the social sciences and humanities community in Canada ranks among the top three in the world.

Over the past 10 years (2000-09), SSHRC has funded more than 13,800 research and knowledge mobilization grants, totaling more than $1 billion, on issues such as the family, immigration, literacy, welfare, violence, mental health, climate change, globalization, trade, regional development, monetary systems, employment and the workplace.

Since 1999, SSHRC has provided fellowships and scholarships totaling over $500 million to more than 16,000 of our best and brightest students. The top seven per cent of graduate students and nearly the top 25 per cent of scholars are funded. These students have gone on to be employed in fields such as education, research, management, business, government, media, law, environment, indigenous studies, arts and culture.

The vital role of the social sciences and humanities in the community is repeatedly confirmed:

  • Over 64 per cent of students in Canadian universities study social sciences and humanities.
  • Two out of three Canadians link social sciences and humanities research to overall quality of life and consider it essential to developing a highly qualified and adaptable workforce.
  • Some 76 per cent of Canadians are employed in service industries that are supported by social sciences and humanities research disciplines.
  • Industries that rely on the social sciences and humanities represent approximately $700 billion of Canada's annual gross domestic product.

In 2008-09, four evaluations that produced evidence in support of policy and program planning were completed on SSHRC programs. The evaluation of SSHRC's Initiative on the New Economy (INE) program (which had allocated $93 million since 2001), for example, found that half of the 400 projects supported by INE generated more than 6,700 academic and non-academic outputs across 500 public, private and not-for profit research partnerships. Financial and non-financial partnership contributions were estimated to be as high as $24 million. For every $1,000 spent on INE research, $250 was paid to students. Researchers stated that without SSHRC funding, their projects would not have been possible.

I am very proud to present SSHRC's Departmental Performance Report for the fiscal year 2008-09 as a record of our achievements in positioning Canada as a leader in international research excellence, and in building the skilled and talented workforce necessary to foster Canadian innovation and growth.

Chad Gaffield
President
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Raison d'tre

SSHRC enables the highest levels of social sciences and humanities research excellence in Canada, and facilitates knowledge-sharing and collaboration across research disciplines, universities and all sectors of society.

Canada's research community includes nearly 22,000 full-time professors who teach social sciences and humanities at Canadian universities, and 62,000 full-time social sciences and humanities undergraduate and graduate students. SSHRC supports the building of a strong foundation of social science and humanities knowledge and capacity in Canada. Social sciences and humanities research excellence and talent fuel Canadian innovation and expertise on social, economic, and cultural issues, as well as on the human dimension of technology, the natural sciences, and health sciences.

Responsibilities and Operational Context

SSHRC is the federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. Created by an act of Parliament in 1977, SSHRC is governed by a council that reports to Parliament through the minister of industry. For more information about SSHRC, including its governance and other organizational information, see http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/site/about-crsh/about-crsh-eng.aspx. SSHRC's legislative mandate is to "a) promote and assist research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities; and b) advise the Minister in respect of such matters relating to such research as the Minister may refer to the Council for its consideration."

For 30 years, SSHRC has pursued this mandate by:

  • investing in Canada's best and brightest minds to develop the talent needed across society ("people");
  • fostering research excellence that advances knowledge and builds understanding ("research"); and
  • supporting the partnerships, interactions and knowledge-sharing that bring the benefits of research in the social sciences and humanities to larger society ("knowledge mobilization").

SSHRC's activities largely consist of funding Canadian postsecondary institutions and individuals through grants. SSHRC awards grants, fellowships and scholarships in national competitions on the basis of excellence. Demand for grants, fellowships and scholarships within the social sciences and humanities community is high. In 2008-09, SSHRC received applications from approximately 13,000 applicants—an unprecedented number, and a six per cent increase over the previous year—to whom 4,320 new grants, fellowships and scholarships were awarded. As shown in the Financial Highlights chart in Section III, $72.5 million, or about 23 per cent, of SSHRC's 2008-09 budget (excluding the Indirect Costs Program) was committed to research in areas linked to S&T strategy priorities.

Decisions about which applicants to fund are made through rigorous, independent peer review. Selection committees recommend which projects to fund based on academic excellence and the importance of the research to the advancement of knowledge. In 2008-09, more than 560 Canadian and international scholars and experts volunteered to serve on SSHRC selection committees. Nearly 5,000 other Canadian and international experts provide written assessments of proposals to help the selection committees in their decision-making.

The three advantages of our strategySSHRC continues to play a key role in implementing the Government of Canada's S & T strategy by helping to meet the increasing demand for talented graduates, for new knowledge and ideas built on research excellence, and for strategies for building successful societies. The three S & T advantages—people, knowledge and entrepreneurial—relate well to the contributions that research and training in the social sciences and humanities provide to Canada and the world.


SSHRC Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture
Strategic Outcome
Program Activity Program Sub-Activity
People—A First-Class Research Capacity in the Social Sciences and Humanities
Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes Canada Graduate Scholarships
Doctoral Fellowships
Postdoctoral Fellowships
Prizes and Special Fellowships
Canada Research Chairs Canada Research Chairs Program
Research—New Knowledge Based on Excellent Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities
Investigator-Framed Research Standard Research Grants
Major Collaborative Research Initiatives

Targeted Research and Training Initiatives

Strategic Research Grants
Strategic Joint Initiatives
Initiative on the New Economy

Strategic Research Development

Research Development Initiatives
Community-University Research Alliances
SSHRC Institutional Grants
Aid to Small Universities
Other Strategic Research Development
International Opportunities Fund
BOREAS
Knowledge Mobilization—The Transfer, Dissemination and Use of Social Sciences and Humanities Knowledge

Research Communication and Interaction

Aid to Scholarly Publications
Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences in Canada
Aid to Research and Transfer Journals
Aid and Attendance Grants to Scholarly Associations
Strategic Knowledge Clusters
Networks of Centres of Excellence
Knowledge Impact in Society
Institutional Environment—A Strong Canadian Research Environment
Indirect Costs of Research Indirect Costs Program

SSHRC's Program Activity Architecture and Performance Measurement Framework

SSHRC continues to improve and make significant modifications to its Program Activity Architecture. This is a comprehensive and inclusive exercise, and a key priority identified by SSHRC in Framing our Direction. This effort involves SSHRC staff at all levels, and
is part of SSHRC's Continuous Improvement initiative. The objective is to simplify and streamline SSHRC's program architecture by removing unnecessary complexity, overlaps in objectives, and logistical barriers. The aim is to provide a more efficient and effective application and adjudication process for the SSHRC community.

Because of this exercise, and to maintain consistency with the 2008-09 Report on Plans and Priorities, performance indicators and targets do not appear in this Departmental Performance Report. These will be developed as part of the current program architecture improvement exercise. The new program architecture and its performance measurement strategy will be effective as of spring 2011.


Performance Summary
2008-09 Financial Resources ($ millions) 2008-09 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending Planned Actual Difference
645.7 680.8 679.5 194 199 +5

 


Strategic Outcome 1: People—A First-Class Research Capacity in the Social Sciences and Humanities
($ millions)
Program Activity 2007-08
Actual Spending
2008-2009 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcome
Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes 100.2 104.0 104.1 105.7 108.1 An innovative and knowledge-based economy
Canada Research Chairs 58.6 61.8 61.8 63.1 59.2
Total 158.8 165.8 165.9 168.8 167.3  

 


Strategic Outcome 2: Research—New Knowledge Based on Excellent Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities
($ millions)
Program Activity 2007-08
Actual
Spending
2008-2009 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
Investigator-Framed Research 91.1 91.0 91.0 91.6 89.7 An innovative and knowledge-based economy
Targeted Research and Training Initiatives 27.4 19.0 19.0 26.1 28.1
Strategic Research Development 28.8  27.3 27.3 31.5 29.4
Total 147.3 137.3 137.3 149.2 147.2  

 


Strategic Outcome 3: Knowledge Mobilization—The Transfer, Dissemination and Use of Social Sciences and Humanities Knowledge
($ millions)
Program Activity 2007-08
Actual
Spending
2008-2009 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
Research Communication and Interaction 61.0 27.3 27.4 33.4 36.2 An innovative and knowledge-based economy

 


Strategic Outcome 4: Institutional Environment—A Strong Canadian Research Environment
($ millions)
Program Activity 2007-08
Actual
Spending
2008-2009 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
Indirect Costs of Research 313.8 315.1 315.1 329.4 328.8 An innovative and knowledge-based economy

 


Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcomes
Operational Priorities Status Linkages to Strategic Outcome(s)
Priority 1:
Optimize Program Design and Delivery to Strengthen Canada's People and Knowledge Advantages

Met all expectations

All SSHRC commitments set out in the 2008-09 Report on Plans and Priorities were met. SSHRC developed a framework for the Continuous Improvement initiative; underwent a blue ribbon panel assessment of its peer-review practices; developed a long-term strategy to support research in management, business and finance; and completed a number of significant initiatives to consolidate and align SSHRC programs, procedures and policies with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). SSHRC participated in the 2008-09 Strategic Review process. As a follow-up, SSHRC indicated that as of April 1, 2009, it would no longer fund research related to the CIHR mandate. SSHRC will continue to fund health-related research that has a social sciences-related focus. SSHRC's total Strategic Review reallocation commitments will be phased in over a three-year period.

  • People (Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes; Canada Research Chairs)
  • Research (Investigator-Framed Research; Targeted Research and Training Initiatives)
  • Institutional Environment (Indirect Costs Program)

Continuous improvement in program design and delivery supports the ongoing relevance and coherence of SSHRC's programs (see Other Items of Interest, in Section III, for more information on SSHRC's Continuous Improvement initiative).

Type

New

Priority 2: Strengthen SSHRC's Contribution to Canada's Entrepreneurial Advantage

Met all expectations

SSHRC met its 2008-09 Report on Plans and Priorities commitment to develop a knowledge mobilization strategy over the 2008-10 period. A logic model and principles for a knowledge mobilization strategy were developed in 2008-09. In May 2008, the division of Knowledge Mobilization and Program Integration was established and staffed. As part of the development of SSHRC's knowledge mobilization strategy, the Public Outreach program was offered in support of special federal initiatives in Management, Business and Finance and Northern Communities

  • Knowledge Mobilization

SSHRC is integrating knowledge mobilization across its program suite to help make the results of SSHRC-funded research increasingly accessible to a wide range of audiences, thereby further contributing to Canada's knowledge, people and entrepreneurial advantages. While Knowledge Mobilization is primarily about effective "connections", it is also intimately related to SSHRC's other two ambitions of quality and impacts, as defined in the 2009 report, Framing Our Direction: Quality, Connections and Impact.

Type

New

Priority 3:
Ensure Value for Money in Public Investments in Social Sciences and Humanities Research

Met all expectations

SSHRC's 2008-09 Evaluation Plan met the requirements of the Federal Accountability Act and the new federal Policy on Evaluation. Completed evaluations include the Initiative on the New Economy program; Canada Graduate Scholarships; and the Indirect Costs Program. SSHRC's other impact studies include The Economic Role and Influence of the Social Sciences and Humanities; How is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Being Used?; and Public Views on Social Sciences and Humanities Research. SSHRC's special competition, Capturing the Outcomes and Impacts of Publicly Funded Research, is intended to develop new tools, approaches, and indicators to assess impact of research.

  • Research

Effectively capturing, evaluating and reporting the impacts and results of social sciences and humanities research a) demonstrates the importance of ongoing public investment in social sciences and humanities research; and b) ensures that the best research is funded through relevant and effective programs and resource allocations. SSHRC is engaged in research and collaboration with other organizations, nationally and internationally, to measure and report the impacts of research.

Type

Ongoing


Risk Analysis

In 2008-09, SSHRC's Internal Audit Division undertook an exercise to update SSHRC's risk profile. A key risk facing SSHRC is the quality, credibility and viability of decision-making for the allocation of grants and scholarships funding through its peer-review process. It is crucial for the credibility of SSHRC that its adjudication processes be transparent and rigorous. As a key initiative in 2008-09, and as a mitigation strategy to the mentioned risk, SSHRC established a blue ribbon panel of international experts to assess the quality and integrity of its peer-review process. The panel concluded that SSHRC's peer-review system is "overall, up to the best practices and highest international standards. It is a system that works well and that is very healthy in its fundamentals." The full report is available at http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/site/about-crsh/publications/peer-pairs_e.pdf. SSHRC has developed an action plan to address the panel's recommendations.

An ongoing challenge for all research funding agencies, in Canada and abroad, is the ever-increasing demand for support. Since 2000, applications to SSHRC's Postdoctoral Fellowships program increased by 72 per cent, while SSHRC's budget for this program remained relatively stable. Applications to the Standard Research Grants program increased by 77 per cent over the same period. SSHRC is not able to fund many of the excellent research proposals it receives, despite the fact that they meet the eligibility requirements and are of high quality.

Expenditure Profile

During the 2008-09 fiscal year, SSHRC spent $679.5 million in order to meet the expected results of its program activities and contribute to its strategic outcomes. The figure below illustrates SSHRC's spending trend from 2006-07 to 2008-09.

Spending on SSHRC's core programs (which excludes funding for the Indirect Costs Program) increased by nearly $26 million in the last two years due to an additional $13.8 million received through Budget 2007 (including funding for the Canada Graduate Scholarships program) and an additional $12 million received through Budget 2008.

In addition to these core funding increases, SSHRC received and spent $32.6 million in 2007-08 and $2.3 million in 2008-09 for the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research program. Spending for the Indirect Costs Program increased by $15 million in 2007-08 and by an additional $15 million in 2008-09, as a result of direct cost funding increases announced in Budget 2007 and Budget 2008.

Spending Trend _ SSHRC


Voted and Statutory Items
($ millions)
Vote # or Statutory Item (S) Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording 2006-07 Actual Spending 2007-08 Actual Spending 2008-09 Main Estimates 2008-09 Actual Spending
80 Operating expenditures 19.9 21.5 21.3 25.2
85 Grants and contributions 603.1 657.3 622.0 651.7
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.6
Total 625.2 681.0 645.6  679.5