During former Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, government scientists said they were limited in their ability to speak publicly about their work and travel to conferences. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government since eased these restrictions, ScienceInsider says a new survey of some 16,000 federal scientists finds that 53 percent of them still feel like they cannot speak freely. Still, it notes this is an improvement as the same survey — conducted by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, a union that represents federal scientists — found in 2013 that 90 percent of federal scientists felt that way.
However, transparency advocates tells ScienceInsider that the change has been slow, and survey respondents said whistle-blower protections need to be strengthened.
"We know that culture change takes time," Kirsty Duncan, the science minister, tells ScienceInsider. "But I am making every effort to meet with scientists and to encourage them to discuss their important work with each other and with Canadians."