Submission on proposed Canadian Research and Development Classification (CRDC)


The Canadian economy spent $34B on Research and Development last year. We could find very little information available on where the money came from or how the money was used.

A government group has proposed a classification system to organize R&D statistics. The group asked for feedback.

The National ME/FM Action Network knows that classification systems are important. We therefore have a strong interest in the initiative underway to create a Canadian Research and Development Classification, especially the health research component of that classification. Having an item in the classification system means that it is considered to be important and that it will be actively monitored. ME/CFS, FM and MCS are not included in the current proposal.

A copy of our submission is here:


The initial goal of the initiative was to standardize reporting at four federal granting agencies (Canadian Institutes of Health Research CIHR, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council SSHRC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council NSERC and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation CFI). Together these agencies account for about $3-4B in research funding per year.

Statistics Canada has become involved in this classification initiative. Besides having expertise in classification systems, Statistics Canada is responsible for compiling the National Accounts. This involves collecting information on R&D from federal agencies, other government sources, businesses, institutes of higher learning, private foundations and foreign sources.

To give some idea of R&D information currently available, Statistics Canada found that Canada spent $34B on R&D in 2018. About 40% of the funding came from the business sector, about 25% from federal or provincial governments, about 20% from the higher education sector and the rest from non profit organizations or from outside the country. About 50% of the spending on R&D was done by the business sector, about 40% by the higher education sector and the rest by governments or non-profits. Somewhere around 250,000 Canadians were employed in R&D.

We don't know how much of the $34B spending went to health research, but a decade old figure suggests around $20% of R&D spending went to health, which would translate to around $7B in 2018. We can trace about $1B of that spending through the CIHR funded research database, but we haven't found information about the rest.

The proposed R&D classification system has three parts:

  • Type of Research (3 choices – Basic, Applied, Experimental)

  • Field of Research (38 main categories, 150 level 2 categories, 1,331 level 3 categories)

    • example: Basic medicine & life sciences, cancer, cancer diagnosis

  • Socio-economic objective of research (12 main categories, 84 level 2 categories, around 900 level 3 categories to be developed later)

    • example: Health is a main category broken down into procedures/treatments, provision of care, public health, special populations, and other. These will be further broken down.

The idea seems to be that researchers will assign a type of research, one or several field of research categories, and one or several socioeconomic objectives to each funded project.

In the future, Statistics Canada could use the CRDC in its broader data collection activities.

The consultation website is here: