Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) was announced on May 15, 2020, as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The temporary program has been established to help sustain the research enterprise at Canadian universities and health research institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that the program will help reduce negative impacts of the pandemic and ensure that the benefits of significant investments to date in universities and health research institutions are protected. This will maintain Canada’s international competitiveness in the global, knowledge-based economy, and contribute to Canadians’ health and social and cultural life, as well as the health of Canada’s natural environment.

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.

Program objectives

The program, which has a total budget of $450 million, has two objectives:

  • as a priority, to provide wage support to universities and health research institutions, both of which are ineligible to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), to help them retain research-related personnel during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic (up to $325 million); and
  • to support extraordinary incremental costs associated with maintaining essential research-related commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then ramping-up to full research activities as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume ($125 million).
Affiliated Health Research Institutes

Below is a list of affiliated health research institutes also receiving the CRCEF funding:

  • Bruyère Research Institute
  • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research
  • University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • Institut du savoir Montfort
Method of distribution

Decision Process for Distribution of Funds Received from the CRCEF

The decision process for distribution of funds received by uOttawa to each affiliated institution was described in a signed agreement with each institution. Specifically, the portion of the CRCEF grant attributable to research activities conducted by the affiliated institution’s researchers was determined by the University, based on a dataset and allocation formula with the same methodology used by the CRCEF.

For Stage 1, funding was distributed to each affiliated institution according to the proportion of non-governmental (federal, provincial and municipal) research income generated by that affiliated institution (e.g., the financial data [PDF, 221 KB] reported to the Canadian Association of University Business Officers). See details regarding uOttawa internal allocation in the Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy below.

The University of Ottawa requested no funds in Stage 2.

For Stage 3, the CRCEF administration will continue with the processes established in Stage1 (see safeguards in the EDI strategy below), with oversight from the uOttawa EDI decision-making committee.

In accordance with program requirements, uOttawa established a transparent and open process, and communicated it widely to the research community, both on a public website (https://research.uottawa.ca/rms/news/crcef-stage-3-request-applications-researchers) and through emails to the research community. On Tuesday September 29, the Office of the Vice-President Research sent an email to the uOttawa research community to describe Stage 3 eligible costs, and the application process with a timeline. An application template was developed to help researchers identify extraordinary direct research costs related to COVID-19, provide justifications for the extraordinary expense, explain how COVID-19 impacted their research, and identify special circumstances which should be considered in deciding the attribution of funds. We held two virtual webinars with researchers who have questions about CRCEF Stage 3 funds. In addition, we worked with the faculties to encourage researchers to submit applications. Researchers were invited to contact central administration staff if they have questions about the program requirements or if they wanted to discuss specific cases or circumstances related to the pandemic or not.

For Stage 3, uOttawa Internal Assessment Criteria are as follow.

Preference will be given to individuals, whose:

1. expenses claimed were not covered by CRCEF Stage 1, COVID-19 research support from the federal research funding agencies, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and other broad-based federal COVID-19 measures (e.g., the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy). 

2. research activities were negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Stage 3 notional budgets were distributed to each affiliated institution according to the proportion of total sponsored research income generated by that affiliated institution (e.g., the financial data [PDF, 221 KB] reported to the Canadian Association of University Business Officers). On September 16, 2020, the affiliated institutions received an updated email regarding the new CRCEF guidelines for Stage 3 and associated webinars. Each Institute developed their own application process making sure that all eligible costs were considered, ensuring support for research that is non-traditional or unconventional, based in indigenous ways of knowing, outside the mainstream of the discipline or focused on gender, race or minority status.

The allocation of funds was as follows:

Institution

Stage 1

Allocation amount

Stage 2

Allocation amount

Stage 3

Allocation amount

University of Ottawa

$3,467,132.77

N/A

$2,690,430.33

Bruyère Research Institute

$238,251.74

N/A

$111,120.25

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

$861,406.26

N/A

$315,740.93

Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corporation

$2,245,588.25

N/A

$610,415.08

Institute of Mental Health Research

$208,607.30

N/A

$49,680.07

Institut du Savoir Montfort

$146,033.63

N/A

$36,064.41

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

$5,467,373.05

N/A

$1,688,104.93

Total

$12,634,393

N/A

$5,501,556

uOttawa Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy for the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF)

The University of Ottawa is committed to building and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes equity, diversity and inclusion within our scholarly and leadership environments for students, faculty and staff. We continually work to identify and remove barriers and obstacles that limit equitable access and opportunities. The University strongly supports initiatives that encourage the participation of the four designated groups (women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities), as defined in the Employment Equity Act, as well as other groups.

Purpose

The uOttawa EDI strategy focuses on improving the decision-making process, transparency and monitoring of equity and diversity in the management of CRCEF funding. This strategy supports uOttawa in making progress towards addressing the needs of all its researchers including the members of the four designated groups (FDGs)—women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and members of visible minorities—members of LGBTQ2+ communities and others in obtaining access to the program and benefiting from the program objectives – retaining research personnel adversely affected through the COVID-19 Pandemic and providing support to maintain essential research functions and support research ramp-up costs.

Limit the impact of unconscious biases and systemic barriers
  1. Training: To limit unconscious biases and ensure they are less likely to influence decision-making, all members of the uOttawa EDI-decision-making committee (see 2.3 below for details) and that of the six affiliated institutes received unconscious bias training in the form of an online training module. Faculty research administrators involved in the distribution of funds as well as recipients of the funds are also strongly encouraged to take the training.
  2. Open and transparent communication: uOttawa ensured that the CRCEF program information was widely communicated through various means (i.e. briefing note, email, news bulletin and webinar) and accessible in both Official Languages. The information was shared widely throughout the organization -- to senior and executive level officials, research administrators, researchers and their research personnel across all 10 faculties and 6 affiliated institutes. The main points of contact (i.e. Program-related, HR-related, Finance-related and EDI-related) were identified within the University to answer questions or concerns in a timely fashion. In addition, the University established prompt, effective, and confidential channels to address EDI concerns and complaints and provided the leader’s name for each specific sector. The main points of contact will stay available to answer any questions throughout the full CRCEF funding period.
  3. Implementation of evidenced-based processes and measures: uOttawa implemented a process to distribute the funds to affiliated institutes based on the Canadian Association of University Business Officers dataset (CAUBO) and allocation formula using the same methodology as used by the program (see Program website for details). This process was widely communicated through a Webinar presentation and the slides were shared afterwards for further consultation or transfer to other colleagues. A formal agreement was put in place between uOttawa and the affiliated institutes outlining the distribution process and reporting requirements linked to the CRCEF funding for each of the stages. Within the individual institutions, Stage 1 funds were allocated in accordance with program eligibility.

To cover the cases where needs may exceed the funds provided (Stage 1 and 2), the EDI decision-making committee within uOttawa focused on ensuring all potential expenses were reimbursed by providing standardized central resources and customized support for each faculty to maximize uptake of the funds provided by the Program. For Stage 3 – Research Maintenance and Ramp-up Costs : a prioritized list was identified, based on the principles outlined in this text.

Safeguards to ensure that personal circumstances do not affect the possibility of receiving funds
  1. Proactive measures to avoid exclusion and misinformation: In late March 2020, the Vice-President, Research began providing guidance to faculties on wage support for research personnel and students. This was followed by a formal memo on April 30, 2020, that the Vice-President sent to all members of the uOttawa research community regarding Research Personnel during COVID-19 Pandemic. The purpose of this message was to inform the research community that specific measures were being implemented to make sure that regardless of their work situation (whether they can work fully, partially or not at all), employees governed by Policy 47 (staff, technicians, research associates, etc.) would continue to receive their regular pay. Similarly, Research Assistants (CUPE 2626) and postdoctoral fellows’ contracts as well as students’ Research Bursaries should be honored regardless of the work situation.
  2. Creation of a uOttawa Research Restart Taskforce (RRT): This task force is chaired by the Associate Vice-President, Research Support and Infrastructure and comprised of Vice-Deans, Research representing the arts, social sciences and humanities, and pure and applied sciences. It is charged with assessing the immediate needs of the research community and organizing the remobilization of research, while taking into account specific local contexts and constraints. For instance, the RRT implemented new opening hours to allow researchers and their teams to access their laboratories at non-standard times such as evenings until 11:00 p.m., and on weekends to provide much-needed flexibility for parents and caregivers.
  3. Implementation of uOttawa EDI decision-making committee within uOttawa: The Vice-President, Research appointed the VPRO Management Committee to serve as the EDI-decision-making committee for the CRCEF program.  The Committee, which is part of the uOttawa governance structure, includes representation from individuals from various backgrounds (i.e. in terms of gender, ethnic background, occupation and linguistic profiles). It held its first meeting on this topic on July 22, 2020, to guide the decision-making process for funding distribution.
Safeguards to ensure that decision-making processes are inclusive and value Indigenous ways of knowing
  1. Alignment with uOttawa Strategic Planning: The Committee aimed to ensure that allocation of the CRCEF funds aligns with the EDI values and activities identified in the University's key strategic planning documents, Transformation 2030 and the uOttawa Strategic Areas of Research. This includes the uOttawa Indigenous Action Plan, which outlines four thematic areas to mobilize the University community in creating an environment that reflects, enhances, includes and supports Indigenous culture and peoples on campus.
  2. Reaching out to key individuals across campus: Communication was sent to Directors of uOttawa Centres and Institutes, advising them of the Program and requesting their assistance in identifying eligible expenses. Their interdisciplinary mandates support individuals and/or researchers in areas that focus on Indigenous ways of knowing or gender, race or minority status (i.e. Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities, Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, etc.).
  3. Consultation with subject matter experts: The Committee also supplemented its perspectives by consulting with other subject matter experts from the uOttawa research community. This included some members of the Vice-President, Research Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Excellence (IDEE); Professor Steffany Bennett, Special Advisor to President in matters of Diversity and Inclusion; as well as two research chairs holders with specific expertise on diversity, ethnic minorities and stigmatized groups. With respect to Stage 3 funds, the experts noted the Program’s list of eligible expenses was narrow and did not take into account the need to support losses in research productivity for researchers with extensive child and family caregiving responsibilities as well as for early career researchers with high teaching workloads. They noted that the time required for researchers to adapt to new teaching modes and formats and revise their courses meant they had less time to dedicate to research, and this was likely to have a long-term impact on their careers.

In determining Stage 3 funding priorities, the EDI committee considered all these within the overall context of the additional support that the university is providing to faculty members, such as additional funds for the acquisition of equipment and services for course development and delivery.

Post-award management and reporting

uOttawa will monitor progress and report on success through the following activities:

  • To support EDI institutional data collection, the University will request that researchers who receive Stage 1 Wage Support funds participate in the uOttawa “Count Me In” self-identification survey, and that they encourage their staff and students to participate as well.  Increased participation in the survey will be monitored, and data reported in accordance with University confidentiality requirements established by the Human Rights Office.
  • Researchers who receive Stage 1 Wage Support funds will also be encouraged to raise any concerns and provide feedback.
  • Research Management Services will: a) conduct a follow-up debrief with faculty administrators at the University and the affiliated institutions to determine if they identified barriers during Stage 1 program administration; b) consult informally with members of at least two designated groups at the University actively monitor feedback and respond to complaints.
  • The University will complete all CRCEF reporting requirements (for Stages 1 and 3), including providing any EDI-related information collected by its affiliated institutions.

Affiliated Hospital Research Institutes

The six affiliated hospital research institutes developed their own EDI statements and strategies, using a similar approach. Each institute created a decision-making committee with representation from individuals from various groups to discuss their EDI statement and strategy to allocate funds in an equitable, diverse and inclusive way. Where applicable, they aligned their strategies with other existing institutional EDI activities. uOttawa reviewed the plans, which are available upon request, to ensure that they met the CRCEF Program requirements.

Contact Information

For any questions regarding the program, please contact:

Terry Campbell
Executive Director, Research Management Services
University of Ottawa
terry.campbell@uottawa.ca

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