Scientists forbidden to speak about their work.
Access to important research literature withdrawn.
Funding pulled for programs that go against the party line.
It sounds like something that would happen in a movie or some repressive regime far, far away, but it is happening here. Earlier this year the CBC reported that Health Canada was shutting down its main library; an act that left federal researchers in such a panic that some were taking library materials home with them so that when the library closed, the material would not be lost. It wasn’t the first time that access to materials federal scientists need in order to do their work was withdrawn. Fisheries and Oceans libraries started closing last fall, resulting in hundreds of irreplaceable documents being destroyed.
A recent editorial in The Lancet Global Health describes the Canadian trend towards the loss of the evidence-base that is needed to make informed decisions. Those working in healthcare know that access to current, reliable, unbiased information is vital to informed decision making. The same is true outside of direct patient care. As a piece of happy news, Evidence for Democracy – a national non-partisan organization that advocates for evidence-based decision-making in public policy – has been awarded a $96,600 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to further their cause.
Do you think it will be enough?
Payton L and Paris M. Health Canada library changes leave scientists scrambling: Main Health Canada research library closed, access outsourced to retrieval company. CBC News. Posted: Jan 20, 2014; Updated: Jan 22, 2014. Last accessed April 29, 2014: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/health-canada-library-changes-leave-scientists-scrambling-1.2499217
McDiarmid M. Fisheries science books disposal costs Ottawa thousands: 7 Fisheries and Oceans libraries to close, sending books, documents to trash. CBC News. Posted: Jan 30, 2014; Updated: Jan 30, 2014. Last accessed April 29, 2014: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/fisheries-science-books-disposal-costs-ottawa-thousands-1.2515962
Simms CD. A rising tide: the case against Canada as a world citizen. The Lancet Global Health. 2014. 2(5): e264-e265. Last accessed April 29, 2014: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X%2814%2970199-8/fulltext
Gibbs K. Evidence for Democracy awarded Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to promote evidence-based policies[blog post]. 04/14/2014. Last accessed April 29, 2014: https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/media/2014/evidence-democracy-awarded-ontario-trillium-foundation-grant-promote-evidence-based