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Health research funding decision coming: de Jong

The British Columbia government is close to announcing continued funding for the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

"There is a decision pending about funding for this year," said Health Minister Mike de Jong. "I'm relatively optimistic there'll be an announcement in the next few weeks."

Neither de Jong nor a spokesperson for the foundation would confirm that $20 million, a figure cited by other sources, has been budgeted for the foundation for the fiscal year that began April 1. The amount would be a decrease from the average the government has provided over the past 10 years.

The provincial government provided the foundation, which supports health research in the province, with $110 million in 2001, $100 million in 2005 and $30 million in 2009, according to the foundation's website.

"At this point there's not a final decision, but suffice to say it's an organization the government has been hugely supportive of," said de Jong. "We obviously as a government are hugely supportive of the work they've done attracting researchers, research teams."

He added, "The government would like to maintain its funding relationship, but the challenge particularly these days is to balance our desire to contribute with the taxpayers ability to pay."

Premier Christy Clark, who is running in a byelection in Vancouver-Point Grey, is scheduled to make a different health funding announcement tomorrow at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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