In 1987–97, Canada had 2,719 scientists and engineers and 1,070 technicians per million people engaged in scientific research and development. In the same period, research and development expenditures were estimated at about 1.7% of GNP. Approximately half of this expenditure is carried out by the business sector, much of it by the telecommunication equipment, aircraft, and business machines industries. The federal government accounts for about one-third of the total research and development activity.
The Ministry of State for Science and Technology, established in 1971, is the chief federal policymaking body. In 1986, the National Advisory Board for Science and Technology, chaired by the prime minister, was created, and merged with the ministry. In the following year, a National Science and Technology Policy (NSTP) was approved by ministers of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. The NSTP has emphasized a strong push linking national research to national needs.
The Royal Society of Canada, founded in 1882 and headquartered in Ottawa, is the most prestigious learned society; there are 53 specialized societies in the fields of agriculture, medicine, science, and technology. The National Research Council of Canada, founded in 1916 and headquartered in Ottawa, coordinates research and development in the country; one of its major facilities is the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, established in 1918 at Victoria, British Columbia. The Geological Survey of Canada (founded in 1842) is headquartered in Ottawa.
The National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, founded in 1967, shows Canada's role in science and technology. The Ontario Science Centre, established in North York in 1965, has over 800 exhibits. In 1996, Canada had 49 universities offering courses in basic and applied science. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 16% of college and university enrollments.