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January 2007 edition
Research and development (R&D) personnel in Canada, 1995 to 2004
Canada’s economic competitiveness depends on scientific and technological development and also on the people responsible for this development, especially those engaged in R&D. In an earlier Science Statistics publication, we published the gross domestic expenditures on R&D in Canada (GERD). This issue presents a supplementary measure to the GERD, the number of personnel who perform Canada’s R&D activities.
In 2004, the majority, (64% or 126,670) of personnel engaged in R&D were employed in business enterprises, representing a 5.4% growth over figures for 2003 (120,220). This growth was powered by increases in the number of researchers from 72,160 in 2003 to 76,280 in 2004 (+5.7%) and technicians from 32,840 in 2003 to 35,130 (+7.0%) in this sector (see table 1-5 ).
Also, 28% of all R&D personnel were employed in the higher education sector and 7% in federal government sector (see table 2-1 ).
Powered by an increase in the number of researchers (from 38,900 in 2003 to 41,380 in 2004) the number of R&D personnel in higher education rose by 5.5% from 51,880 in 2003 to 54,730 in 2004. Although this growth is impressive, it is about half of the 9.6% increase recorded in 2003. Nevertheless, this growth buttresses the importance of higher education institutions in R&D performance (see table 4-4 ).
Much of the rise in the number of personnel involved in R&D in the higher education sector from 1999 to 2004 stems from increased R&D spending in that sector (from $5 billion in 1999 to over $9 billion in 2004). This is the result of strengthening collaboration between universities on the one hand and all levels of governments (especially the federal government) and business enterprises on the other hand. This is evident in the fact that R&D funding for higher education R&D from all levels of government in Canada increased from about $1.6 billion in 1999 to $3.4 billion in 2004, while business enterprises increased their support from $460 million to $679 million within the same period.
In 2004, the majority of R&D personnel in Newfoundland and Labrador (64%), Nova Scotia (51%), New Brunswick (50%) and Saskatchewan (49%) were employed in the higher education sector and private non-profit sectors. This is related to the dominant role universities in these provinces play in R&D. On the other hand, in Quebec (70%), Ontario (67%) and in British Columbia (62%) the bulk of R&D personnel were employed in the business sector (see table 2-1 ).
In a pattern that closely mimics expenditures on R&D in Canada, Ontario (45%) and Quebec (31%) were home to the highest number of R&D personnel. British Columbia (10%) and Alberta (7%) placed a distant third and fourth respectively (see table 2-1 ).
Ontario and Quebec are hosts to the majority of federally employed R&D personnel in Canada. This is related to the fact that the majority of federal research facilities are located in these two provinces (see table 2-1 ).
The numbers of R&D personnel employed in government R&D organizations appear to be declining gradually or at best fluctuating in Canada and the selected OECD countries (see table 3-1 ).
Since 2002, the number of R&D personnel in higher education institutions in Canada has grown slightly faster than those of the selected OECD countries (see table 3-1 ).
The period spanning 1980 and 2004, witnessed a 141.1% increase in the number of R&D personnel in Canada (from 82,550 in 1980 to 199,060 in 2004) (see table 3-2 ). The figures for 2004 represent a 5.0% rise over those of 2003 (189,520).
Table 3-2 also indicates that over two-thirds (68%) of the increase in personnel numbers from 2003 to 2004 was accounted for by a rise in the total number of researchers from 118,860 to 125,330 (+5.4%). In 2004, researchers accounted for 63% (125,330 F.T.E.) of R&D personnel in Canada, and the overwhelming majority of them (84%) were natural science researchers.
In 2004, the majority (64% or 126,670) of personnel engaged in R&D were employed in business enterprises, representing a 5.4% growth over figures for 2003 (120,220) (see table 3-4 ). Indeed much (68%) of the growth in total number R&D personnel in Canada from 2003 to 2004 can be accounted for by the increase in the number of R&D personnel in business enterprises (which is due in part to the gradual increase in R&D expenditures by business enterprises, after the downturn in 2002).
Table 3-3 shows that between 1980 and 2004, the number of R&D personnel in business enterprises grew at a faster pace (394%) than those in the private non-profit (74.7%) and higher education sectors (50.3%) over the same period. Importantly, the number of R&D personnel in the federal and provincial government sectors fluctuated between 1980 to 2004, resulting in a net personnel loss of 14.4% in the federal government sector in 2004.
Table 3-3 also indicates that in 1980, 44% of R&D personnel were employed in the higher education sector, compared to only 28% (54,730) in 2004. However, the number of researchers in universities increased by 127.2% from 1980 to 2004 (from 18,210 in 1980 to 41,380 in 2004, see table 4-2 ). Significantly, among researchers in this sector, doctoral students experienced the most rapid growth in their numbers (+246.6%) during this period (see table 4-3 ).
Since 1999, the number of personnel involved in R&D in the higher education sector has risen due to increased R&D spending in that sector (from $5 billion in 1999 to over $9 billion in 2004). In continuing with an emerging trend, the number of R&D personnel in higher education in 2004 surged by 5.5% over the 2003 figures (from 51,880 in 2003 to 54,730 in 2004) (see table 3-7 ). Importantly, since 2002, the number of R&D personnel in higher education institutions in Canada has grown slightly faster than those of the selected OECD countries (see table 3-1 ).