Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund

Decorative image of a vial describing a positive blood test for COVID-19.

For more information about the CRCEF program at Western, please contact:

Lesley Rigg, Vice-President (Research)

Kevin Shoemaker, Associate Vice-President (Research)

On May 15, 2020, the Prime Minister announced $450 million in funding as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The temporary program has been established to help bolster Canada’s academic research community in an effort to reduce the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that the benefits of significant investments to date in universities and health research institutions are protected.

The investment is intended to:

  • Provide wage supports to universities and health research institutes, so they can retain research staff who are funded from industry or philanthropic sources and are unable to access some of the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. The government will provide up to 75 per cent per individual, with a maximum of $847 per week for up to 12 weeks, within the eligibility period of March 15, 2020 to August 29, 2020; and
  • Support extraordinary incremental costs associated with maintaining essential research-related commitments during the pandemic, and then ramping up to full research activities as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume.

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) is a Tri-agency program and is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on behalf of the three federal research funding agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and SSHRC. The Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) provides strategic oversight for the program and approves awards. The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) provides administration.

Universities eligible for to the Research Support Fund (RSF) are eligible to apply to CRCEF. Health research institutions will receive funding through the universities with which they are affiliate. In addition to the academic divisions and research facilities at Western, the following affiliated health care institutions are benefiting from this program through Lawson Health Research Institute:

  • London Health Sciences Centre
  • St. Joseph’s Health Care London

Overview

The CRCEF program is delivered in three funding stages. Institutions must apply at each stage to access funding.

Stage 1 and Stage 2: wage support for eligible research personnel (students, postdocs and staff) whose salaries were adversely affected by the pandemic and who were paid in part or in whole by non-governmental sources, and who were not claiming other wage support (e.g. CERB or CEWS).

Stage 3: incurred costs associated with extraordinary and incremental measures for the maintenance and ramp up of research activities.

Stage 4: ( Updated October 15, 2020) Wage support for eligible research personnel by increasing the maximum duration of support from 12 to 24 weeks. More information to come.

Initial funding for wage support in Stage 1 was announced by TIPS using an allocation based on non-governmental research income as a proxy to estimate needs.

Program administration

When the program was announced, Western established a committee to ensure coordination and harmonization in an efficient and accurate response to this valuable opportunity. The committee comprised of representatives from LHRI/LHSC and senior members of Western Research, along with representatives from the faculties, IPB, Human Resources and Financial Services. The committee is diverse in its make-up and all members of the group have undertaken unconscious bias training.

Western and its affiliated hospitals through Lawson Health Research Institute submitted a Stage 1 application to CRCEF confirming the acceptance of the full notional allocation on July 7, 2020. The Stage 1 allocation was awarded to Western on July 22, 2020.

The committee undertook an analysis of available CAUBO data to confirm Western/Lawson’s Stage 1 notional allocation from the program. The CRCEF program used an allocation formula based on an institution’s proportionate share of non-governmental sponsored research income. The allocation and supporting data were shared with Lawson. The affiliates received a proportionate share of Western’s Stage 1 allocation, determined by the same allocation formula applied by TIPS – a percentage of total sponsored research income calculated from non-governmental sources as reported by CAUBO between 2015 – 2018).

Working together, Western and Lawson, confirmed a shared approach to determining eligible funding sources and clarifying the application of eligibility guidelines. Everyone who met the strict eligibility criteria will be reimbursed up to the maximum allowable amount.

Western and Lawson were able to complete the Stage 1 eligible wage analysis for the reporting required by August 6, 2020. Our combined actuals (and projections to August 29, 2020) were entered into the Convergence Portal to meet the program’s reporting requirements. Western and Lawson did not have a shared need to apply for Stage 2 funding.
Western and Lawson will enter into an inter-institutional agreement to transfer funding for Stage 1. Western Research, Human Resources, Financial Services and IPB are coordinating with faculties to facilitate the reimbursement of accounts based on the program‘s specific eligibility criteria.

Please contact Natalie Wu (Director, Research Services) for any questions regarding Stage 1.

Additional information regarding Stage 3 will be provided at a later date, pending further details and guidance from TIPS.

We are grateful that the Government of Canada has recognized the need for the creation of the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund. This funding will aid research institutions across the country to maintain staff and essential activities during these unprecedented circumstances.

Western's commitment to integrating EDI best practices in decision-making

Each eligible institution has attested to the responsible stewardship and the implementation of transparent processes for the robust management of the CRCEF program.

At Western, an intentional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is vital to the University’s mandate as a research-intensive institution of higher learning, an employer of choice and a community leader. For the CRCEF, Western will ensure the following:

  • Establishment of a cross-divisional CRCEF committee to uphold the alignment of Western’s values with a thoughtful approach that ensures equity, diversity and inclusion best practices infuse all major decisions. All members will have completed unconscious bias training;
  • Committee membership and consultation of the decision making strategy has included a commitment to a minimal 50% participation of individuals from underrepresented groups, including women, Black, Indigenous, and People of color (BIPOC), and the LGBTQ2+ communities;
  • Adjudication of funding allocation, in the event of insufficient funds from the program, will also be determined by a diverse, multi-disciplinary committee whose membership incorporates knowledge of research across a broad range of fields, including Indigenous ways of knowing and community-engaged research; and
  • Nicole Kaniki, Western Research’s EDI Specialist and Special Advisor on Anti-Racism to the President, provides specialized reviewer training. Adjudication committee members will participate in a mandatory EDI training session led by Nicole Kaniki focused on the foundational principles in EDI including implicit bias, special considerations for research and research environments, while also highlighting the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized groups.

Beyond the epidemiological effects, Western recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly adverse and negative impact on mental health and has led to increased marginalization of underrepresented groups and low socio-economic communities. Please also see our FAQ, below, on Western’s definition of negative impact.

In recognition of this, Western’s CRCEF committee also commits to implementing the following:

  • Communication to the internal Western community highlighting the importance and commitment to EDI in the management of the program;
  • Ensuring communication of the opportunity is promoted among researchers currently on leave (paternal/maternal/personal), but who are maintaining active research programs on campus. Adminstrators will be providing accessibility considerations and assistance in applying to the CRCEF program;
  • Decisions on allocation of funding are not negatively affected by a researcher’s inability to work during the pandemic due to child/family care or increased risk related to exposure to Covid-19; and
  • Decisions on allocation of funding recognize and value research that is non-traditional or unconventional, based in Indigenous ways of knowing outside the mainstream of the discipline, or focused on issues of gender, race or minority status.
  • Further guidance for Stage 3 funding applications will provide specific examples of eligible expenses aligned with the CRCEF program criteria, but which also values research that is non-traditional and rooted in ethical community engagement considerations and Indigenous ways of knowing.
  • If necessary, pro-rating requests according to the funding allocation with special consideration to early-career researchers, faculty from underrepresented groups and those who have demonstrated a significant negative impact from the pandemic. Researchers and scholars will be given the opportunity to self-identify and provide a narrative with their application.
  • Special considerations for the loss of research productivity for research activities that require maintenance and support of community partnerships and engagement methodologies will be included in the perspectives in the decision-making process. Prioritizing funding of submissions from researchers who’s work contributes to social impacts specifically in marginalized populations and Indigenous communities, will provide accountability for equity in funding decisions made. 

FAQ

What are the Stage 1 Eligibility Criteria for cost recovery?

Eligible criteria include:

  • Individuals whose wages are normally supported by non-governmental sources and who worked or will work any days between March 15 and August 29, 2020, and
  • Research has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, including reductions in staff productivity not limited to transitioning to an online delivery model, loss of access to study participants, labs and research spaces and/or family-related obligations.

What does negative impact mean?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a significant interruption to many research projects, leading to gaps in results and lost time as Western moved to an essential services model. Western recognizes the significant amount of stress for faculty, students, staff and administration as the community pivoted quickly in response to evolving public health directives. Negative impacts also include:

  • Suspension of funding from industry partners or foundation sponsor
  • Restrictions to non-essential fieldwork
  • Loss of productivity and/or absences due to obligations for family members
  • Lack of access to research participants, research and lab spaces/facilities
  • Increased risk related to COVID-19 infections

The impacts of the pandemic will manifest in a variety of ways within our diverse campus community, and the CRCEF committee is committed to considering all unique situations equally.

What is the maximum payable allowed for Stage 1?

  • Wages (or wage portions) for research-related personnel who are normally supported through non-governmental sources, to a maximum of $847 per week for up to 12 weeks of salary support (consecutive or broken up over the eligibility period) per individual, incurred within the eligibility period of March 15, 2020, to August 29, 2020.

Please note that the $847 per person-week is the maximum benefit payable under federal rules.

What are ineligible expenses for Stage 1?

  • Wages paid through funding from federal, provincial or municipal governments.
  • Principal investigators are excluded from the research-related personnel definition.
  • Expenses for students and trainees paid via scholarship (vs as an employee) are not eligible.
  • Personnel normally paid from the university’s operating budget are not eligible.

Applicants cannot claim benefits, salary/wages or portions of these, and expenses covered through:

  • Other federal research funding agency awards;
  • the Canada Foundation for Innovation awards; or
  • funding from all levels of government, including COVID-19 relief programs.

Individuals who will have their wages funded by CRCEF cannot receive support from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the same period.

What is a non-government source of funding?

Non-government sources include industry/private sector, foundations, associations, donations.  Internal and operating funds are considered government funded and not eligible for Stages 1 & 4 of this program.

I have wages incurred after Aug 29th , 2020.  Are these eligible for Stage 1 of this program?

No, they are not eligible for Stage 1 of the CRCEF Program. However, wages incurred between Aug 30 and Nov 15 on any funding source may be eligible in Stage 3 (link to Stage 3 site) if they meet the eligibility criteria.  You should identify the related individuals and amounts to include in your Stage 3 application. Please note, their wages must be associated with maintenance and ramp-up activities specifically.

I have a student who claimed the CESB for 2 months during the eligibility period.  Can I still receive the reimbursement?

Yes, the eligible reimbursement will be prorated for the period that the student did not claim the CESB.

When will the reimbursement be processed?

We are hoping to process the eligible reimbursements through December and January.