The Mowat Centre, a public policy think tank, is shutting down as a result of cuts from the Ontario government.
In an announcement posted online on Monday, director Andrew Parkin said the non-partisan centre would be closing because of the cancellation of its funding agreement with the province. Established in 2009 and associated with the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, the Mowat Centre conducts research projects related to public policy on a wide variety of topics including education, immigration and climate change.
“I am sure that it is not lost on any of us that the Mowat Centre is closing at a time when the twin challenges of transforming government and strengthening the federation are perhaps more acute than ever,” he said in the post. The organization declined further comment.
In an e-mailed response, Christine Wood, press secretary for Economic Development Minister Todd Smith, cited Ontario’s high debt and the Progressive Conservative commitment to balancing the budget.
“There are a number of think tanks across the province that are able to conduct independent public interest research without depending on taxpayers’ dollars,” she wrote. “As a part of the 2019 Ontario Budget, the government cancelled funding to all think tanks.”
The budget makes no explicit mention of the cut. It does cite a Mowat Centre report in a section addressing regional economic development.
Ms. Wood said that if the government requires the services of a public policy think tank, “a temporary one-time contract could be signed.”
According to its 2017 annual report, the Mowat Centre’s $2.8-million budget was primarily covered by a $1-million grant from the province. Other sources of income included about $750,000 in other grants and $400,000 from research contracts.
In the field of Canadian think tanks, the shutting of the Mowat Centre is a “serious loss,” said Graham Fox, president and CEO of Montreal-based think tank Institute for Research on Public Policy.
“Under the leadership of Andrew Parkin, the Mowat was an active contributor to advancing national debates but always with the perspective of Ontario,” he said. Mr. Fox said the centre was a strong partner in advancing dialogue on important issues for Canadians “from coast to coast.”
Another think tank, the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity, announced two weeks ago that it would also be closing as a result of an end to provincial funding.
“The Ford government has established a pattern where they have ignored sound evidence and research and now have gone one step further by eliminating those institutes," said NDP innovation critic Catherine Fife.