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 was 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.
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).
Stage 1 (and 2) of CRCEF provided partial support for the direct salary costs of eligible research personnel incurred between March 15, 2020 and August 29, 2020 (the “eligibility period”) for a maximum of 12 weeks.
Funding in Stage 3 was awarded to support direct costs associated with maintenance and ramp-up of research activities incurred between March 15, 2020 and November 15, 2020, including eligible salaries of research personnel between August 30, 2020 and November 15, 2020.
Funding in Stage four extended the number of weeks from 12 to 24 for research personnel salary support during the Stages 1 & 2 eligibility period, between March 15, 2020 and August 29, 2020.
UBC and Affiliated Health Research Institutions Benefiting from CRCEF
Funding envelopes were allocated to the University of British Columbia and the following affiliated health research institutions for distribution based on Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) data
- Interior Health Authority
- Providence Health Care Research Institute
- Provincial Health Services Authority
- Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute
Method of Distribution of CRCEF Funds Across Our Institutions
Stage 1 funding was distributed to affiliated health research institutes using the same allocation formula to prorate the total CRCEF Stage 1 funding based on each institute’s non-governmental-sponsored research income as reported by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) for FY2016, FY2017, and FY2018.
The originating dataset is derived from the UBC Research Information Systems (RISe) that documents and tracks all sponsored research funding activities at UBC and its affiliates. The non-governmental funding sources in our calculations are as defined by CRCEF guidelines, and include funds derived from donations, non-government grants and contracts, investments, sales of services/products, and miscellaneous income, that support sponsored research activities. Stage 2 funding was distributed based on unmet residual needs identified from Stage 1.
The distribution of funding to health research institutions for stage 3 was based on the UBC RISe dataset as reported by CAUBO for FY2016, FY2017, and FY2018 for total research income data from all government and non-government sources.
Stage 4 funding distribution criteria matched that for Stages 1 and 2.
Additional allocation processes involving equity, diversity and inclusion considerations were in place should funding requests exceeding the notional funding allocations in any stage not be fully met.
All funding requests were able to be met in Stages 1- 4.
Researchers at UBC and affiliated health research institutions were awarded the following CRCEF funding ($55.5m out of the total national investment of $415m):
- Stage 1: $17.75m
- Stage 2: $2.98m
- Stage 3: $18.36m
- Stage 4: $16.43m
CRCEF Decision-making Process
The CRCEF process at UBC is overseen by the UBC CRCEF steering committee comprising individuals representing UBC and UBC’s affiliated health research institutes. The UBC CRCEF steering committee provides an accountable and transparent governance structure for making decisions on how the CRCEF funds will be used following Tri-agency directions and is responsible for:
- Developing and overseeing a strategy for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) decision making for the use of funds
- Advising on UBC CRCEF process and controls
- Making recommendations to the Vice-President, Research & Innovation for final approval of UBC requirements at all stages (1-4) of the CRCEF program
Commitment to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
The University of British Columbia has a deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and ensuring that these principles are met in decision-making relating to CRCEF funding. Inclusion is a cross-cutting theme in the UBC strategic plan, which states:
“Sustained excellence in research, education and engagement depends on the integration of diverse perspectives and approaches. As a public institution, UBC has the responsibility to ensure inclusion across students, faculty, staff and alumni, and through all external interactions. Inclusion is a commitment to access, success and representation of historically underserved, marginalized or excluded populations. Education is an enabler of social development and mobility, and UBC is intent on advancing the inclusion of all those who have been excluded based on gender, race, religion, sexuality, age, physical ability or economic circumstances.”
In addition to being a signatory of the Dimensions Charter, UBC is one of 17 Canadian post-secondary institutions participating in the Dimensions: equity, diversity and inclusion Canada pilot program to increase research excellence, innovation and creativity across all disciplines through increased equity, diversity and inclusion.
Within this context, UBC and affiliated health research institutions are taking active measures to ensure that all researchers with eligible projects get access to the CRCEF program.
- Communications regarding all of the CRCEF funding stages are sent to all faculty members at UBC and shared across affiliated health research institutions and with administrative and financial support staff.
- Communications affirm a commitment to EDI and encourage applications for all eligible projects, and specifically from early-career researchers and researchers belonging to equity-seeking groups.
- Submissions are accepted and considered equally from all faculties and affiliated health research institutions. There are no individualized funding caps on researchers based on their fields of study.
- Where commitments such as caregiving or childcare impact individual researchers’ availability to respond during the application process, additional provisions are made and support is provided to ensure applications from these researchers can be submitted.
- In order to reduce barriers to submitting applications, researchers are directed to dedicated support within each Faculty and affiliate for submitting applications. A central support team has also been identified and is available to pull data and provide additional support for submitting applications, particularly on behalf of individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 in their abilities to respond to the calls for applications.
- For Stage 3, early-career researchers were also contacted directly with an offer to support the submission of applications.
The following measures were put in place to ensure that equity, diversity and inclusion informed decision making:
- The composition of the steering committee includes individuals from the following equity-seeking groups – women, racialized minorities, and persons from Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ communities.
- All steering committee members have confirmed completion of unconscious bias training
- The multi-disciplinary steering committee includes researchers with knowledge of research focused on issues of gender, sexuality, race or minority status and community-engaged research.
- All eligible research projects will be considered and decisions will be based on CRCEF program eligibility, irrespective of the research area. All fields of research will be valued equally in order to 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.
- There are no individualized funding caps on researchers based on their fields of study.
- The steering committee will seek out additional expertise wherever needed, including in areas such as Indigenous community-based research.
- All UBC and affiliate funding and salary data is coded and extracted from the financial management system based solely on Government of Canada eligibility requirements. The data is cross-checked and verified for completeness at multiple levels.
- The steering committee committed to a consistent and prorated approach to all funding recommendations for UBC and affiliates in Stage 1 and 2. The full funding request was approved in Stages 1 & 2, avoiding the need for prorated awards.
- Faculty Deans and affiliate administrators are encouraged to bring forward special cases to the Steering Committee for consideration, in particular when a researcher’s inability to work during the pandemic due to child/family care or increased risk related to exposure to COVID-19.
- Applications for Stages 3 & 4 funding include a self-identification survey. Applicants can choose that they prefer not to respond to questions in the survey.
- In the event that funding requests for Stages 3 & 4 are higher than the allocated funding, special consideration will be given to researchers known to be most impacted by COVID-19. This includes early-career researchers, researchers belonging to equity-seeking groups and researchers who were personally impacted by COVID-19 and/or have special needs in regard to child/family care.
- Additional criteria in the event of funding requests exceeding available funds in Stage 3 may be developed by the Steering Committee, and will be communicated to researchers and posted to the dedicated UBC CRCEF Stage 3 webpage.
- All funding requests were met in Stages 3 and 4, avoiding the need for prorated or prioritized awards.
Contact for CRCEF Program Compliance
Ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program at UBC rests with the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.