Postdoctoral Scholar

During my PhD studies I was not eligible for Tri-Council funding as I was an international student. As international Postdoc I was not eligible for NSERC funding. Once I received PR, I was considered ‘too old’ in academic years, and not eligible. These obstacles have been incredibly frustrating. Currently, I receive funding through my PIs operating grant. When starting my PI looked at CIHR pay scale to determine my salary, which meant I received 42.000/year IN VANCOUVER! After taxes, this is less than the cost of living. The reason I’m still a Postdoc in Vancouver is because my partner has a ‘normal’ paid job. I’m privileged. ONLY privileged people can be a PhD student or Postdoc, at least at UBC. Being financially reliant on my partner is very stressful. I am 35 and this financial stress keeps me from starting a family (constant housing insecurities). Therefore, I’m currently looking at industry jobs, which is easier now that I have PR.

If postdoctoral funding was CAD $60,000/yr for all postdocs, how would that change your life? This would remove stress and financial insecurity, though it is still difficult to live from these amounts in cities like Toronto and Vancouver as a family. However, I believe that is an issue the Universities should solve by providing affordable housing for PhD students and Postdocs. IMPORTANTLY, not only scholarship funding needs to be increased, but also money for PhD students and Postdocs in project grants a PI receives because many are paid through those, which currently only result in ~20K for PhD students and ~40K for Postdocs. Thus more money in grants needs to be allocated for this! And rules in place to keep PIs to this, and not spend that money on other things. Finally, hopefully, an increase in salary would mean PhD students and Postdocs don’t need to work a 2nd job besides their full-time research job (and classes).

Additional comments: There is a reason PIs in Canada are having a hard time attracting talented PhD students and Postdocs… They go where pay is better and keeps up with cost of living. If you want Canadian science to be better, you’ll need to pay for it, like everything else in life.

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