Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund

Overview

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.

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 funded by non-governmental sources during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic (up to $325 million) (Stages 1, 2 and 4); 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) (Stage 3).

Stages 1 and 2 (Wage Support)

Wage support (up to 75% for 12 weeks; $847/week maximum) is being provided for eligible research personnel (that is, research personnel negatively impacted by the pandemic) who were paid from non-governmental sources between and inclusive of March 15 to August 29, 2020.

Note: “Negatively impacted by the pandemic refers not only to a loss of research funding, but also to lost capacity and access: for example, an inability to work at one’s customary capacity during the pandemic due to child/family care or increased risk related to exposure to COVID-19, international travel restrictions, etc.

In determining research personnel eligible to receive funding from the CRCEF program, the data gathering process is being conducted at the departmental/unit level to ensure all research personnel are receiving communications and are being considered for eligibility. Data gathering efforts are agnostic to the employment status of research personnel (i.e., part-time or full-time), and the non-governmental source(s) of funding for their positions (i.e., philanthropic, industry, non-governmental organization, etc.). A prioritization process is not required, i.e., University’s CRCEF allocation is sufficient for all eligible research personnel affected by Covid-19. 

The data submitted by departments/units regarding eligible research personnel is being reviewed by Research Financial Services and Human Resources to validate and verify eligibility of the expenses. In addition, individual principal investigators will sign an attestation outlining that the costs are eligible under the program.

Stage 3 (Maintenance and Ramp-up)

Examples of eligible expenses are those incurred no later than November 15 and may include* the following direct costs:

  1. Cost incurred associated with maintaining essential research-related activities during the pandemic that are exceptional and incremental to those already covered by existing sources of funds, funded at up to 75%. This may include:
    • animal and specimen care through the pandemic period;
    • maintenance of equipment, software, cohorts, datasets, including warranties, licenses and service contracts;
    • technological equipment for remote access to maintain assets; and
    • safety equipment for personnel dedicated to maintenance.
  2. Costs incurred associated with full ramp-up of research activities, as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume. Only costs that are exceptional and incremental to those already covered by existing sources of funds will be supported, at up to 75%. Eligible expenses include those incurred at the project level and associated with:
    • re-organizing the research environment;
    • additional costs to bring the research back to its pre-pandemic level, including experiments or related to the restart of collections and datasets;
    • exceptional costs to access special facilities, platforms and resources, knowledge transfer meetings and workshops;
    • restarting, reassembling and safety checks of equipment and facilities;
    • reacquiring lost and donated laboratory and field supplies and equipment, reagents, perishable materials, and laboratory animals; and
    • personal protective equipment and related items for research personnel.

Consistent with Stages 1 and 2, to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion, data/information collection efforts will be focused at the unit/department level.  In addition, various communication vehicles will be used to increase awareness and participation.

*The definition of eligible expenses may change depending on updates received from the CRCEF Program. 

Stage 4 (announced September 30, 2020)

Stage 4 will provide up to $84 million to extend the period of wage support for eligible research personnel by increasing the maximum duration of support from 12 weeks to 24 weeks, during the March 15 to August 29, 2020 period.

As with Stages 1 and 2, Stage 4 funds will be used exclusively for wage support for research personnel whose salaries were adversely affected by COVID-19 and who are paid in part or in whole by non-governmental sources. Should the total of all institutions’ demonstrated residual need exceed the funding available at Stage 4, payments to institutions will be pro-rated.

University of Guelph CRCEF Governance

The Vice-President (Research), Dr. Malcolm Campbell (vpres@uoguelph.ca), is University of Guelph’s senior-level official responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the CRCEF program are followed and, particularly, ensuring its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in managing CRCEF funds is integrated within the governance process. The Associate Vice-President (Research Services), Karina McInnis (avpres@uoguelph.ca) is accountable to the Vice-President (Research) for implementation. A working group was assembled, i.e., the CRCEF Working Group, to develop strategy and devise implementation for CRCEF data collection, internal communications, and decision-making.

The Working Group membership is as follows:

  • Karina McInnis, Associate Vice-President (Research Services) - Chair
  • Jill Rogers, Managing Director, Research Operations, Office of Research Services
  • Amanda Sawlor, Director, Research Finance
  • Joseph Pazzano, Training, Education and Inclusion Officer, Diversity and Human Rights
  • Lauren Grant, Research Manager, OVC
  • Rebecca Hallett, Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies), OAC
  • Tina Goebel, Associate Director, Finance and Operations, OAC
  • Laurie Halfpenny-Mitchell, Director, OMAFRA-U of G Agreement and Research Programs

Advisors to the CRCEF Working Group are the Director, Human Resources, and the Assistant Vice-President, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

The CRCEF Working Group reports to the University of Guelph Research Continuity Group on a weekly basis. The Research Continuity Group is chaired by the Vice-President (Research) and its membership includes, among others, the Associate Deans Research and Graduate Studies from the University’s seven academic colleges, the Assistant Vice-President (Graduate Studies), and the Director, Research Financial Services. At the University of Guelph, the ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program rests with the Vice-President (Research)

The data submitted by departments/units regarding eligible research personnel was reviewed by Research Financial Services and Human Resources to validate and verify eligibility of the expenses. In addition, individual principal investigators will sign an attestation outlining that the costs are eligible under the program.

Should the CRCEF funding requested exceed the amount allocated to the University of Guelph, each need will be met through a pro-rata share of CRCEF funds.

University of Guelph’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy for CRCEF

The University of Guelph recognizes that an inclusive campus and a culture of inclusion is an institutional and social imperative. Acknowledging the University’s diverse population and ensuring that every member of an inclusive campus is a valued contributor is a foundational pillar of a successful post-secondary institution.

The following principles drive the University’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI):

  • All campus community members must anticipate and encourage diverse perspectives and leverage them to drive creativity and innovation
  • A culture of inclusion begins by acknowledging the diversity among us and recognizing that some members of our community experience barriers to education, employment, and full participation due to systemic factors
  • A culture of inclusion is possible only if the institution continually designs, reviews, and rebuilds structures – including policies, programs, and practices – that are inclusive, equitable, and accessible to all
  • A culture of inclusion necessities the involvement of the community of diverse stakeholders – faculty, staff, and students – to drive a strategic and system-wide approach to EDI

These guiding principles are also embedded in the University’s decision-making for the use of CRCEF funds. These principles are incorporated into all discussions and deliberations related to the CRCEF.  Specifically, the University utilizes these principles to:

  1. Assess and analyze the effect of unconscious bias and systemic barriers
    • Representation of Equity-Seeking Groups: The CRCEF Working Group has representation from members of equity-seeking groups and have received unconscious bias training from the University of Guelph Office of Diversity and Human Rights. Crucially, the CRCEF Working Group includes a staff member from the University of Guelph Office of Diversity and Human Rights to ensure governance, decision-making, and processes are aligned with the University’s and CRCEF’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. The Research Continuity Group, to whom the Working Group reports, also has representation from multiple equity-seeking groups.
    • Unconscious Bias Training: Members of the CRCEF Working Group have received unconscious bias training from the University of Guelph Office of Diversity and Human Rights. The Working Group has applied a debiasing lens to each stage of the Group’s planning and deliberation to ensure that all data collection and decision-making processes are responsive to possible unconscious biases. 
    • Broad and Inclusive Communication: Information about the CRCEF Program was broadly distributed to the campus community through various means, including web communications, emails, targeted outreach, and workshops. The information was shared to individuals in various levels of the organization, ensuring that leadership and operational staff were aware of the Program and its relation to equity and inclusion. Specific examples of equity-related aspects of the Program were communicated to stakeholders. The communications highlighted the importance of applying an equity and inclusion lens to decision-making and reaffirmed the University’s commitment to EDI.
    • Connection to the University of Guelph’s Research Continuity Group: The CRCEF Working Group reports weekly to the Research Continuity Group. The Continuity Group has developed guidelines for research phase-in and has developed a set of EDI considerations for research phase-in to ensure that the University identifies and eliminates barriers to full participation in the research enterprise, particularly barriers that affect differential working environments and abilities to work productively and efficiently, such as childcare or disability.
    • Connection to the CRC EDI Working Group: The CRCEF Working Group’s planning and outcomes were shared with the University’s CRC EDI Working Group, a group with intersectional and interdisciplinary membership. The Group shared recommendations on inclusive data gathering processes, including on diverse areas of research, and broad inclusive communication strategies to researchers.
    • Connection to the Return to Campus Steering Committee and EDI Working Group: The Office of Diversity and Human Rights is involved with identifying and mitigating barriers to full participation caused by ongoing disruptions to work due to the pandemic. This work has fed directly into the CRCEF Working Group and has illuminated additional barriers that researchers may experience in executing their research agendas.
  2. Ensure equity in the distribution of CRCEF funds
    • Inclusive Access to CRCEF Funds: The University is guided by the foundational goal that all researchers are encouraged to identify costs eligible for CRCEF support, regardless of identity characteristics, personal circumstances, discipline, area of focus, or traditionality of the research method. This foundational goal has been outlined in various communications to the campus community.
    • Implementation of Evidence-Based and Equity-Informed Decision-Making: The CRCEF Working Group uses a multi-prong outreach strategy to ensure that personal circumstances do not affect the possibility of receiving funds, ensure that all eligible expenses are captured, and ensure that unconscious biases do not operate to exclude an otherwise eligible expense.  Unit heads and unit administrators were provided with detailed communications about CRCEF guidelines and provided with examples of eligible expenses from an equity-lens, including the inability to work during the pandemic due to equity issues like childcare, disability, or increased risk exposure. An initial data collection process culled eligible expenses from the finance system, but researchers were encouraged to identify any personnel also eligible in an additional survey document. Unit heads and unit administrators were instructed that the pandemic has a disproportionate impact on equity-seeking groups and that it was imperative for recipients to have equal access and participation in Canada’s research ecosystem. The CRCEF Working Group deliberately discussed ways to streamline the data gathering process such that additional barriers would not be created that disadvantaged certain equity-seeking groups or discouraged them from coming forward to identify expenses. The final submissions to the CRCEF Program are reviewed by the Office of Research’s leadership team to ensure that equity and inclusion has been broadly considered and that all potential beneficiaries have received equitable and inclusive treatment.
    • Employment Equity Data: The CRCEF Working Group is continually reassessing each stage of the CRCEF Program to ensure that the Group is grounded in an equity lens during each stage of decision-making. The Working Group is utilizing available University-wide employment equity and self-identification data to guide discussions about potential barriers for various equity-seeking groups.
  3. Ensure equitable treatment of diverse research areas
    • Unconscious Bias Training: The unconscious bias training delivered to Working Group members through the Office of Diversity and Human Rights included specific recommendations to limit bias related to disciplines and diverse ways of knowing. These strategies were embedded within the Working Group’s planning processes.
    • Inclusive Access to CRCEF Funds: The University is guided by the foundational goal that all researchers are encouraged to identify costs eligible for CRCEF support, regardless of identity characteristics, personal circumstances, discipline, area of focus, or traditionality of the research method. This foundational goal has been outlined in various communications to the campus community.
    • Alignment with the University of Guelph’s Inclusion Framework: The CRCEF Working Group is guided by the University of Guelph’s Inclusion Framework which aims to connect the diversity of research excellence at the University of Guelph with leadership and governance processes, the campus environment, and the academic landscape. The Inclusion Framework identifies the need to consider research from multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, and that also guides the CRCEF decision-making.
    • Integrating Indigenous ways of knowing cluster and Indigenous Initiatives Strategic Task Force and Indigenous Strategy.
    • Outreach to University Centres and Institutes: A communication was sent directly to Centres and Institute Directors many of which represent interdisciplinary and/or multi-disciplinary research, diverse research methods, and/or indigenous ways of knowing.
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