ontario news watch

Ottawa adds national security risk assessments to federal research funding

OTTAWA — The federal government is setting new guidelines that work national security considerations into funding criteria for university research.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne says research projects must now undergo a risk assessment as part of any grant application to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

He says the research council will then assess and work to mitigate any risk alongside national security agencies and departments on a case-by-case basis.

Security questions around scientific research have drawn renewed attention after two scientists were escorted from the high-security National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in July 2019 and then fired earlier this year.

One of the employees had earlier been responsible for a shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, though the Public Health Agency of Canada has said that event is unrelated to their dismissal.

The Innovation Department plans to expand the new guidelines to all granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation “in the near term.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press