Canadian Academies of Science

February 24, 2005 12:11 ET

The Canadian Academies of Science to Assess Urgent National Issues



FEBRUARY 24, 2005 - 12:11 ET

The Canadian Academies of Science to Assess Urgent
National Issues

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 24, 2005) - The Canadian Academies
of Science (CAS) is pleased to receive multi-year funding support from
the federal government, so that it can provide expert input to all
Canadians on the sciences related to national policy issues.

The Canadian Academies of Science is a novel collaborative undertaking
by Canada's three internationally-recognized academies: The Royal
Society of Canada (RSC), the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE), and
the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS).

CAS is already established, and will operate with its own board of
governors, corporate officers and professional staff. The objective of
the CAS and its member academies is to ensure that government, industry
and the public have access to independent expert assessments, so that
they can make informed decisions on a range of issues that impact the
well-being of Canadians.

The mission of the CAS is:

- to provide a source of credible, independent, expert assessments of
the sciences underlying pressing issues and matters of public

- to provide a voice for Canada on behalf of the sciences, both
nationally and internationally.

Science in this context is the full spectrum of sciences, including
natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, social sciences and the
humanities; it is anticipated that many of the assessments will be
multidisciplinary in nature.

The CAS, through expert panels, will provide assessments of what is
known and what is not known about the sciences underlying key public
policy issues. These assessments will establish the facts about a
particular issue; examine the validity of the evidence informing the
issue; clarify areas of concurrence, divergence and uncertainty where
they exist; and define questions that remain unanswered.

Governments and others may then use the findings to inform deliberative
processes and decision making on key issues. CAS assessments will be
restricted to factual reporting and will not include policy advice.

The expert panels will be made up of the highest level of qualified
individuals in all relevant disciplines, drawn from Canadian sources
and, where appropriate, from abroad.

The CAS will work closely with the Minister of Industry and the National
Science Advisor in identifying priority issues for assessments,
according to their importance to the federal policy agenda and their
implications for the health, safety, environmental and economic
well-being of Canadians.

Each CAS panel of experts will work in full independence in preparing
and reviewing their reports.

Requests for assessments are expected to come primarily from federal
departments and agencies, from Parliament and from other levels of
government. Requests will also come from industry, and from the member
academies themselves.

All expert panel reports become public documents, and a key part of the
CAS mandate is to carry out effective communications, by disseminating
the results of the assessments to interested members of the public.

In recent years, expert assessments of this type have been produced by
the Royal Society of Canada on an ad hoc basis, providing guidance to
governments and others on such issues as asbestos risk, the welfare of
laboratory animals, the risks associated with cellular telephone
technology, the genetic modification of foods, and other current issues.

Each of the three founding member Academies has links with similar
academies world-wide, and the establishment of the CAS will enhance
inter-academy cooperation. This in turn provides a basis for
collaborative assessments, on issues that have international dimensions.


Contact Information

    Howard Alper
    (613) 562-5189
    Paul Armstrong
    (780) 492-0591
    Ron Nolan
    (905) 403-3635
    Gilles Paquet
    (613) 991-9005
    Martin Schechter
    (604) 822-3910
    Kathleen Sendall
    (403) 296-4782