Many of the aging labs at U of T will soon see a revitalization as the Federal and Provincial governments have announced $98 million funding for the Lab Innovation for Toronto (LIFT) project.
Out of the $98 million for the LIFT project, the Federal government has committed $83.7 million while the Province will contribute $14.3 million. In addition, the university will also invest $91.8 million, bringing the total to $189.8 million.
The funding announcement was made this morning at the Medical Sciences Building. Prior to the announcement, Kirsty Duncan, Federal Minister of Science; Navdeep Bains, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development; Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier and Provincial Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development; Reza Moridi, Provincial Minister of Research, Innovation and Science; and Han Dong, Ontario MPP for Trinity-Spadina joined U of T president Meric Gertler and other senior administrators for a tour of the labs at the Medical Sciences Building.
Duncan began her remarks by proclaiming “the war on science” to be over, saying, “As the Minister of Science, I am pleased that science has a central role in the innovation agenda. We care about science excellence and we want to position Canada as a world leader in scientific research. And today’s investment in the University of Toronto truly supports that goal.”
According to the university, the 50,000 square metres of labs to be renovated under the LIFT project are, on average, 50 years old. These renovations will increase the usable space in the laboratories and make improvements to air handling, climate, and electrical systems in the buildings. An estimated 1100 researchers and 5500 students are expected to benefit from the project.
“We talk about the strengths of our province and our country being our people, and that is absolutely right. But space matters, too. Our people can only be as brilliant as they can be, they can only maximize their potential when they have the right space to work in,” said Matthews.
Daniel Haas, who serves as Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, thanked the ministers for the announcement and spoke of the need for improvements to the facilities at his faculty.
“While our researchers continue to strive for excellence, our research facilities are badly outdated. Our primary building was built 57 years ago in 1959 and a number of our researchers are working in a facility built in 1927,” Haas explained. “We’re in need of critical repairs to remain functional and to meet laboratory safety standards of 2016 and beyond. Our ability to sustain ourselves is seriously challenged by our outdated infrastructure.”
The LIFT project is aimed at renovating 546 labs on all three campuses, which comprises of 47 per cent of all academic research space at U of T.
The Federal and Provincial governments have also committed $950 million to fund research infrastructure in Ontario through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, which is a $2 billion initiative to improve post-secondary academic infrastructure throughout the country.