Tri-Agency supplement for students, trainees and research support personnel

As part of the federal government’s response to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on research activities, $251 million was provided to the Tri-Agencies - Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) - in order to supplement the salaries and stipends of trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel who were paid through Tri-Agency grants between April 1 and June 30, 2020 while research was interrupted due to the pandemic.

Program administration

Eligible grant holders were contacted directly by the Tri-Agencies for each eligible active grant. In accepting the supplement, grant holders were required to attest that there were indeed interruptions to the work of trainees and research support personnel caused by the pandemic and that the additional funding will be used to support them.

Additionally, the trainees and research support personnel supported by the supplement will need to ensure they are not benefiting from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). They also cannot be benefitting from other income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships.

We need the assistance of each Principle Investigator to validate this is true with respect to the research personnel working on their grant.

Generally, an individual who continued to work and earned less than $1,000 per month would in fact be eligible, could apply for and receive CERB or CESB; it is not possible for the University to know if they received the benefits or not without asking them directly.

To help clarify the types of funding made available as a response to the COVID 19 disruption, the following matrix has been developed:

Compensation Program Provider Details Permissible payment coincident with the Tri-Agency and/or CRCEF Funding
Canadian Emergency Response Benefit Canada Revenue Agency Payments of $2,000 for each 4 week period from April 2020, provided the employee was out of work due to global pandemic shutdown; primarily paid to non-students who had employment earnings of at least $5,000 in 2019
Canadian Emergency Student Benefit Canada Revenue Agency Financial support of $1,250 per week for each 4 week period to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.  Payable from May 10, 2020 to August 29, 2020;

Please note: Grant holders who did not pay salaries or stipends from a grant will not be eligible for the supplement. Eligible grants are those that were active on April 1, 2020 and that were not already in a time extension period.

Eligible use of supplement funds:

  • These funds may only be used to pay salary or stipends as follows:
    • For CIHR Grant Holders: for the period April 1st, 2020 to the end date of the Grant;
    • For SSHRC and NSERC Grant Holders: for the period April 1st to March 31st, 2021.
  • Supplements cannot be used for the remuneration for work directly associated with a program of study, as opposed to research, for trainees who graduated in the spring of 2020.

The relevant agency pages on the supplement can be found below. Please note there are some small differences depending on the Agency, so it is best to check the guidelines and FAQs directly.

Supplements from CIHR

  • CIHR issued revised Authorizations for Funding (AFFs) with the additional funding included.
  • As is usual practice for CIHR, any unspent funds at the end of the grant (unfunded extension period) will be returned to CIHR.
  • We recommend that salaries or stipends be expensed to this fund as soon as possible in order to utilize the supplement amount in full.

Supplements from NSERC or SSHRC

  • Both NSERC and SSHRC will issue notices of supplement funding to each PI directly.
  • A separate fund will be created with a start date of April 1, 2020 and an end-date of March 31, 2021 (Note that the end date originally envisioned by NSERC and SSHRC of December 31st, 2020 has been extended to March 31st, 2021).
  • There is no carry-forward permitted of unspent Supplement funds after March 31, 2021 and any unspent Supplement funds must be returned to NSERC and SSHRC by the University.
  • Residual supplement funds will not be eligible for the NSERC or SSHRC General Research Funds.
  • We recommend that salaries or stipends be expensed to this fund sooner rather than later in order to utilize the supplement amount in full. See the FAQ section below for more details.

Attestation form

Institutions are required to retain a record of payee’s declarations that they did not benefit from other government benefit programs while simultaneously being paid by a Tri-Agency supplement. To facilitate collection of this information from those who will be paid through these additional funds, an Attestation Form will be sent to each eligible PI for use and recordkeeping.

IMPORTANT: Payees must complete, sign, and return the Attestation Form to the PI

Staff at Western Research cannot provide advice or guidance on CESC, CERB, or other related CRA rules in relation to these programs. Those who have questions about those programs should refer to the program websites or contact those program representatives directly with their questions.

Frequently asked questions

What is meant by “interruptions” to research?

Your research was interrupted if research activities slowed down, put on hold, changed or could not proceed due to any COVID-10 related reason.

I want the supplement but did not respond or receive an email from the Agency, can I still receive the supplement?

Grant holders were required to respond to the email from the Agencies directly by August 24, 2020. (Deadline was extended from August 14, 2020 and two reminders were sent out to eligible PIs). Unfortunately, if you did not respond or if you indicated you did not need the supplement, you are no longer eligible to receive the supplement.

What is the value of the supplement?

The value of the supplement will be commensurate with the average level of support provided to trainees and research support personnel for each agency over a three-month period. It is non-negotiable.

What can the funding be used for?

The additional funding is strictly to provide salary support for existing trainees (students, post docs) and research support personnel involved in research supported by your grant.

When will I receive the funding?

Each Agency will be provide a list of the supplement amounts for each eligible grant and will advise the Research Finance offices and grant recipients by September 30, 2020.

Research Finance will send you a communication with further instructions on accessing the funds. Funding will be deposited into your existing account once the attestation form has been received by

Will I need to create and submit a new ROLA Proposal?

No. You will not be required to create a new ROLA Proposal. COVID supplement funding will be added to your existing Tri-Agency account. Note that all the requirements for human ethics protocols, animal use protocols, or biosafety permits required for your grant for which the supplement was issued, apply as well to the supplement funding.

If I paid trainees and/or research support personnel between April 1st and June 30th from another source of funds instead of my Tri-Agency Grant, can I reimburse those other funds from the Supplement grant?

Yes, you can transfer the cost of salary and stipend to the eligible Tri-Agency grant if you had arranged to have those costs expensed elsewhere between April 1st and June 30th.

Do I need to use the Supplement funds to pay only those individuals who continued to be paid by my Tri-Agency grant between April 1st and June 30th?

The supplement funds will be used to reimburse your account to pay those trainees and/or research support personnel funded by your Tri-Agency grant on or after April 1st (and up to December 31, 2020 for NESRC and SSHRC), however, you do have flexibility to use these funds to pay other trainees or research support personnel who are working on your research funded by the Tri-Agency grant.

Anybody being paid by the supplement grant must complete the attestation form to ensure they are not or were not simultaneously receiving other federal supports such as CERB, CESB, or other federal COVID-19 income supports including Tri-agency scholarships and fellowships.

As a Co-Investigator where the lead PI is at another institution, will I receive additional funds?

The supplement will be administered in the same manner as the grant to which it is associated. For most grants, this means that the host institution of the principal investigator will transfer any supplemental funding to Western for the grant on which you are a co-investigator. You may wish to contact the principal investigator to discuss the supplemental funding. If funding is coming to Western, please contact

I am the lead on a Tri-Agency grant and need to send funds to collaborators at another institution, how do I initiate the process?

Please contact the for an amendment to the Transfer of Funds agreement with the following information: ROLA Award ID or account number, name of other Institution, name of PI at the other institution, budget and contact information.

An attestation form will need to be completed by your Co-PI at the other institution.