Update on Federal Government Research Salary Support Programs

Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

This note provides an update on the two Salary Support Programs announced by the Government of Canada to help retain research-related personnel during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic – the $450 M fund for the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) for non-governmental grants and the $291 M fund for Tri-Agency grants. This includes details on how these programs will be administered by the funders and internally at the University of Ottawa.

Please Note: in both programs, there is no direct application process, but rather researchers will be contacted, based on their eligibility to participate. The funds for these programs will be made available over the next few months.

  1. Salary Support for Non-Governmental Research Grants

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) announced on May 15, 2020, is a $450M multi-stage program to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic. Funds in Stages 1 and 2 provide wage support for research personnel paid in part or whole by non-governmental sources such as Private Sector, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), and Charities.  Stage 3 provides support for research ramp-up and maintenance costs.

For Stage 1, the university and affiliated Institutions are given a lump sum, based on research performance in non-governmental funded research, over a recent three-year period (2015/16, 16/17 and 17/18). This is to cover salary support for research personnel who are funded through non-governmental sources of funds.  On July 7th, the University sent its request for funds, and the funds will be sent to the University in late July. (The University is responsible for distributing to the affiliated institutions their pro-rata shares.)

Research-related personnel are defined as: “those employed by universities or health research institutions who are working for faculty members conducting research, or who are working in scientific and engineering facilities/laboratories supporting broad research objectives (e.g., graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other personnel associated with research projects). Principal investigators are excluded from the research-related personnel definition.”

Eligible Expenses: Up to 75% of the portion of research personnel’s salaries/wages normally supported by 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.

There are specific eligibility requirements, as outlined in the program description and clarified in the program FAQs: https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/crcef-fucrc/index-eng.aspx#questions.

The eligible grants are: non-government grants and contracts, such as private sector, foundations, not-for-profit organizations; donors.  This does not include internal research grants and activity funded through the university’s operating budget. Ineligible expenses include: benefits, salary/wages or portions & expenses covered through: other federal research funding agency awards; CFI; or funding from all levels of government, including COVID-19 relief programs.

Internal Allocation of Grant:

Based on these requirements, RMS, Research Finance and Human Resources are now generating the list of eligible research accounts and associated salary expenses for each Faculty; once the list is generated, we will share with Faculty Chief Administrative Officers.  (An information session will be held with CAOs the week of July 13.)  Researchers will be advised of the results and researcher accounts will be reimbursed by late August.

2. Support for students, trainees and research support personnel funded through Tri-Agency Research Grants ($291M)

CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC have provided the following update on salary support supplements for students, trainees and research support personnel funded through Tri-Agency research grants. The CIHR note, and our understanding of this update is as follows (with clarifications in italics):

“As a follow up to the Tri-Agency notice on June 4 that announced additional funding to support trainees (students and postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel, please find below some additional information on the supplements.

  • Research grant offices (RGOs) will be contacted in the coming weeks to be made aware of which grants will be considered for the supplement. Once the supplements have been approved, they will also receive confirmation of payments.
  • Eligible grant holders will be contacted directly by email (for CIHR grants only; for NSERC and SSHRC grants, via a sharepoint site) in the coming weeks for each eligible grant that they hold. For each grant, you will need to confirm that the research and work of trainees and research support personnel was disrupted by COVID-19 from April 1 to June 30, 2020, and that the grant was used to pay the salaries and stipends of trainees and research support personnel during this period of disruption.
  • If the above-mentioned conditions are not met, the grant holder will indicate this and a supplement will not be provided.

An example of this might be for a new project where trainees and research support personnel haven’t yet been recruited/hired onto the research team or haven’t been paid from agency grant funds.

  • Once confirmation has been received, a supplement and accompanying documentation will be provided for each grant. The supplement value is based on the average amount (determined by the Tri Agencies) typically used to support trainees and research support personnel over a three-month period.
  • Trainees and research support personnel who are paid by the supplement will need to ensure they did not benefit from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit between April 1 and June 30, 2020. They also cannot have benefited from other income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships during this same period. (At this time, it is not clear to us who will need to confirm that the personnel or student didn’t receive compensation.)
  • Note that the supplement cannot be used for the remuneration for work directly associated with a program of study for trainees who graduated in the spring of 2020.
  • Eligible grants are those that were active on April 1, 2020 and that were not already in a time extension period. (Note, the definition of active is not clear to us, but could mean having received a payment in the current fiscal year. We will seek clarity on this.)

We realize that the impacts of COVID-19 are broad, and that no one initiative will address them all; however CIHR (and NSERC and SSHRC) are committed to taking a flexible approach and continuing to monitor opportunities to support the research community over time.

  • If you are a co-applicant on a grant, the supplement will be administered in the same manner as the grant to which it is associated. (It is unclear at this time, how CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC will follow up with co-applicants.)
  • Please read the full update for all details, eligibility and conditions.”


Thank you for your commitment to supporting students, trainees and research personnel in this challenging time.  We will provide updates, as they come available.

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