Earliest Example of Public Funding for Science in Canada?

July 12, 2011 at 11:26 am Leave a comment

I came across this 1806 Upper Canada statute, titled An Act to Procure Certain Apparatus for the Promotion of Science while compiling a comprehensive list of all health-related legislation in pre-confederation Canadas. It is most likely the earliest evidence of formal legislature-approved use of public funds for promotion of scientific research. I say “most likely” because a prior grant may have been made through an appropriations statute (the so-called “supplies” statutes). There is no prior, similar grant by the Lower Canada Governor and Council. This goes against a pattern I have observed in relation to health-related legislative developments in Upper Canada vis-à-vis Lower Canada, in which statutes passed in Lower Canada are followed a few years later (usually between 1 and 3 years) by similar enactments in Upper Canada (this is the subject of an upcoming post).

The 1806 statute provides a grant of four hundred pounds for the purchase of instruments to aid in the teaching of natural philosophy, geography, astronomy and mathematics.

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Reflections on health law and policy in early Canadian history

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