Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF)

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) as part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This temporary, needs-based 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.

For those who could not attend the CRCEF Town Hall on October 13, you will find the recording of the town hall meeting below and the accompanying PowerPoint presentation HERE.

If you have any questions concerning CRCEF, please email crcef_info.osr [at] mcgill.ca

About CRCEF

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) program has two objectives:

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 (research assistants, technicians, postdoctoral fellows, students) during the course of COVID-19 pandemic (up to $325M), 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 ($125M).

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.

Details of the program can be found HERE.

Stages 1 and 2 (Now Closed)

What expenses were eligible for Stage 1 CRCEF support?

Up to 75% of the portion of research personnel's salaries/wages normally supported by non-governmental sources, to a maximum of $847/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.

Personnel who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of COVID-19 within the eligibility period can become eligible retroactively, as long as they are rehired and their retroactive pay and status meet the eligibility criteria for the claim period.

User fees that support research facilities (i.e., where multiple PIs share a common research facility) count as a non-governmental source of funding. If there are research-related personnel that are supported in whole or in part by user fees to research facilities, those salaries/wages (or share of those salaries/wages) will be eligible.

What expenses were NOT eligible for Stage 1 CRCEF support?

  • The salaries/wages of research-related personnel who work in broad areas of research services that are typically funded by indirect costs (e.g., animal care facilities).
  • Salaries/wages for research-related personnel who were laid off due to COVID and claimed other wage support (e.g., Canada Emergency Response Benefit or "CERB" or the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit or "CESB").

The salaries/wages of research-related personnel that were transferred to University operating funds or governmental funds (federal, provincial, municipal) to avoid layoff during the eligibility period can be considered eligible, although if University operating funds or governmental sources were the exclusive source of research-related salaries/wages before COVID-19, these are not eligible.

McGill and its affiliated health research institutions received a notional allocation of $13.1M for Stage 1 in mid-July. McGill and affiliates reported claims of $7.67M against the Stage 1 allocation and so there was no additional application for Stage 2 funding.

Stage 3

CRCEF Stage 3 Eligible Expenses Are:

  • Unanticipated additional costs that would not have been incurred in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot be funded by existing sources of funds;
  • For direct costs associated with maintenance and ramp-up of research activities;
  • Costs borne by research projects, and;
  • Approved by a decision-making group identified for CRCEF (McGill CRCEF Steering Committee).

Stage 3 is to support direct costs of research that have been incurred to: 1) maintain essential research-related commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic; and 2) support ramping-up to full research activities as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume. Only direct costs of research that are extraordinary and incremental to those already covered by existing sources of funds and have been incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020 will be reimbursed, at up to 75%.

Extraordinary incremental costs incurred for research projects funded by either governmental or non-governmental sources are eligible for Stage 3 support. Extraordinary incremental costs are defined as unanticipated additional costs that would not normally have been incurred in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot be funded by existing sources of funds.

Stage 3 funding will be awarded to support direct costs associated with maintenance and ramp-up of research activities. Applicants must justify the need for the funds based on actual costs incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020. Eligible expenses include costs associated with the following categories:

 

a) Maintenance costs:

Costs incurred within the eligible period and 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 includes:

  • animal and specimen care through the crisis 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.

 

b) Ramp-up costs:

Costs incurred within the eligible period and 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 and activities;
  • additional costs to bring the research back to its pre-pandemic level, including experiments or related to the restart of collections and datasets (e.g., population-based, environmental);
  • user fees charged by shared platforms to researchers to restart research activities (e.g., animal- care facilities, digital labs);
  • re-scheduling and restarting human and clinical trials;
  • exceptional costs to access special facilities, shared 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, laboratory animal and other living specimens; and
  • personal protective equipment and related items for research personnel.

 

Additional details that pertain to the eligibility of Stage 3 expenses will be posted as the CRCEF Working Group at McGill learns more about Stage 3 of the CRCEF through webinars and through consultations with the federal government.

 

How Do I Apply for CRCEF Stage 3 funding?

Individual researchers will be invited to apply for CRCEF Stage 3 funding through their local units and there will be an open call to the McGill research community through the OSR listserv. If you feel you have incurred eligible Stage 3 expenses due to COVID you will be asked to complete a template describing the need and you will work with your local finance office to estimate the claim. Here are the contact points for researchers at McGill:

Faculty

Faculty Financial Officer

Director of Administration

Agriculture and Environmental Science

Jackie.krebs [at] mcgill.ca (Jackie Krebs)

Christine.butler [at] mcgill.ca (Christine Butler)

Arts

Nancy.prsa [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Prsa)

N/A

Dentistry

Suzana.rodriguez [at] mcgill.ca (Suzana Kafadar de Rodriguez)

N/A

Desautels Faculty of Management

Nina.cochina [at] mcgill.ca (Nina Dolea Cochina)

Mark.michaud [at] mcgill.ca (Mark Michaud)

Education

Rukhsana.diwan [at] mcgill.ca (Rukhsana Diwan)

Daniela.frischer [at] mcgill.ca (Daniela Frischer)

Engineering

Leila.albassit [at] mcgill.ca (Leila Al-Bassit)

Chidinma.offoh-robert [at] mcgill.ca (Chidinma Offoh-Robert)

Medicine

Batchimeg.zuend [at] mcgill.ca (Batchimeg Zuend)

Dementra.kafantaris [at] mcgill.ca (Demetra Kafantaris)

Schulich School of Music

Henry.tin [at] mcgill.ca (Henry Tin)

N/A

Science

Julie.theriault3 [at] mcgill.ca (Julie Theriault)

Maria.babiak [at] mcgill.ca (Maria Babiak)

Law debbie.carlone [at] mcgill.ca (Debbie Carlone)

N/A

Stage 3 Updates

The CRCEF is new for both the federal government and for universities. This page will be updated as clarifications are made to Stage 3 expense eligibility.

*New* This information supersedes CRCEF instructions before Nov. 25, 2020: While the eligible expenses need to have been recorded or committed between March 15th and November 15th, 2020, the transactions and invoices may be received and paid until March 31st, 2021. Goods and services may be rendered / received up until March 31st, 2021. [date added Nov. 26, 2020; Source: CRCEF Team in Ottawa]. The CRCEF Working Group at McGill is attempting to identify potentially eligible expenses that are in our procurement system and notify principal investigators.

Affiliated health research institutions and McGill faculties will need to report their CRCEF Stage 3 claims by Friday, November 27th. The deadline for McGill to report on Stage 3 was extended on October 19th to December 15th, 2020. (date added: October 29th).

Expenses that meet Stage 3 eligibility criteria that were incurred on the Professional Development Fund (PDF) may be claimed against the University’s CRCEF Stage 3 allocation. There will be the requirement, however, that a PI who makes a claim that includes a PDF expense(s) must have held an active research grant fund (a fund that starts with a 2) during the eligibility period of March 15 – November 15, 2020.

What does “incurred expense” mean? Incurred means that the transaction was recorded on the date it occurred rather than on the date when the transaction was actually paid. For CRCEF Stage 3, this means that a product or service will have had to have been received by November 15th for it to be eligible. Even if the product was invoiced before November 15th, if the product has not been received by November 15th, then it is ineligible (date added: October 29th: Source: CRCEF Team in Ottawa).

CFI Infrastructure Operating Funds (IOF) are allowable source funds for eligible Stage 3 CRCEF claims. (Date added: October 14; source: communication with CRCEF Team in Ottawa).

*New Updates to Q&A Stage 3 CRCEF*: https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/crcef-fucrc/faq/ramp-up_costs-couts_de_reprise-eng.aspx (date added: October 9th, source of information: communication from CRCEF Team in Ottawa).

· All research funds are eligible, including internal start-up funds (date added: September 22, 2020; source of information: CRCEF webinar)

· Only “maintenance” and “ramp-up” costs are eligible. “Ramp-down” costs are ineligible (date added: September 22, 2020; source of information: CRCEF webinar)

· Expenses that are unanticipated additional costs that would not have been incurred in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible in Stage 3 of the CRCEF. These unanticipated costs may be salary expenses that are exceptional and incremental to those covered by existing sources of funds (and not covered by other grant relief funding).  For example, extraordinary salary costs related to animal or specimen care, maintenance of equipment, software, cohorts, datasets, including warranties, licenses and service contracts or extraordinary salary costs related to re-organizing the research environment and research activities are eligible in Stage 3 of the CRCEF. (Source: communication from CRCEF Team in Ottawa)

Stage 4

*New* Affiliated health research institutions and McGill faculties will need to report their CRCEF Stage 4 claims by Friday, November 20th. The deadline for McGill to report on Stage 4 was extended on October 19 to November 30th.

CRCEF Stage 4 extends the maximum duration of wage/salary/stipend support for eligible research personnel in Stage 1 from 12 weeks to 24 weeks. The eligibility period for wage support remains the same as it was in Stage 1: From March 15th, 2020 to August 29th, 2020. As with Stage 1, Stage 4 funds will be used exclusively for wage support for research personnel (staff, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students) whose salaries/stipends were adversely affected by COVID-19 and who were paid in part or in whole by non-governmental sources. Note that Frequently Asked Questions for Stage 4 are available HERE.

The process at McGill will be to re-fresh the Stage 1 wage/salary/stipend reports and provide them to PIs who will then attest to need for additional wage/salary/stipend support up to 24 weeks. There will also be an open call for CRCEF Stage 4 through Faculties. Most of the processes for estimating Stage 4 CRCEF claims within McGill will be handled centrally. Open calls to PIs will also be launched through faculties. 

Public Accountability, Transparency, and EDI

McGill University & Affiliated Health Research Institutions Receiving Funding from CRCEF

In addition to faculties across McGill’s campuses, the following affiliated health research institutions are receiving funding from CRCEF:

As with other universities across Canada with affiliated health research institutions, McGill serves as the formal recipient of CRCEF allocations and is responsible for sharing the allocation with each of its affiliated health research institutions. These “affiliates” are separate legal entities with independent governance and management structures. Each affiliate is responsible for the administration of the CRCEF within their institution.

Funding Distribution and Implementation Process

Stages 1 & 2

At launch of the CRCEF, McGill Financial Services determined “notional allocations” across McGill and the six affiliates, mirroring the process of allocation at the federal level, with full details made publicly available HERE.

The notional allocations and supporting data were shared with affiliates who developed individual processes for identifying eligible expenses for Stage1, based on information supplied on the CRCEF website, webinars and consultations with senior administration at SSHRC. The offices of the Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation and Financial Services remained in ongoing communication with finance officers within the University and across the affiliates during the process of accounting for Stage 1 claims up until submission of Stage 1 reporting on August 5, 2020.

Receipt of the CRCEF Stage 1 allocation ($13.1M) occurred shortly before Stage 1 reporting was due and so McGill directed payment to affiliates of the actual reported need (see above). McGill and its affiliates claimed $7.67M against the Stage 1 allocation, leaving $5.46M in reserve for Stage 3. McGill did not require a Stage 2 application (residual need in excess of Stage 1 allocation).

The process at McGill has oversight by a CRCEF Steering Committee with diverse representatives who have received unconscious bias training. It includes a member representing the affiliated health research institutions. The Steering Committee is chaired by the Associate Vice-Principal Research who reports to the Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. The CRCEF Working Group is co-led by the Associate Vice-Principal Research and the Associate-Vice Principal, Financial Services. The CRCEF Working Group is responsible for program implementation which includes directing financial analyses, communicating with stakeholders, consulting with SSHRC administration and overall program planning.

Stage 3

The notional allocation for Stage 3 to McGill and its affiliates is $9.3M (inclusive of the Stage 1 residual allocation). CRCEF administration will continue with the processes established in Stage1, with oversight from the Steering Committee and implementation by the Working Group.

We are instructed to account for the total need, even if it exceeds the notional allocation, as there will be reallocation of residual funds across the country, as per the statement: Stage 3 application forms will allow for submission of incurred expenses that exceed the notional allocation. Funds from the supplemental allocation envelope will be redistributed across institutions with outstanding need on a prorated basis.

Claims against the CRCEF Stage 3 allocation will be monitored and, should there be excessive demand that could reasonably exceed the notional allocation and any pro-rated national redistribution, there maybe additional institutional eligibility criteria adopted. The federal government has provided the following options for institutional eligibility criteria which may be implemented by the McGill CRCEF Steering Committee as needed:

  • a minimum incremental cost for a project to be considered for the funding;
  • the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the grant’s budget exceeding a certain percentage of the annual grant value;
  • priority given to projects that are at the beginning or in the middle of their terms, versus those that are close to their grant end date; and
  • non-eligibility of projects with considerable financial balances at the end of the fiscal year (March 31, 2020).
  • earmarking a certain percentage of its allocation for supporting researchers at a specific career stage (e.g., early career researchers); and
  • setting a maximum amount or percentage of the CRCEF contribution by project.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in CRCEF Administration

The CRCEF Steering Committee is aware of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on some equity seeking groups, especially people with disabilities, including those not able to access health care, those disproportionally shouldering dependent care and homeschooling responsibilities, and members of racialized minority communities. Equity-seeking groups include, but are not limited to, women, racialized minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and persons from LGBTQ2+ communities.

The McGill CRCEF Steering Committee is taking the following steps to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the administration of CRCEF funds:

  • The CRCEF Steering Committee includes representation from individuals from equity-seeking groups and from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and Faculties across the University; it includes a liaison member for our six affiliated health-related research institutions. There is gender parity among the 11 CRCEF Steering Committee members.
  • All members of the McGill CRCEF Steering Committee are required to complete robust equity training to ensure full EDI competence in reviewing and decision-making vis-à-vis submitted files. More specifically, they will all undergo training led by senior members of McGill’s Equity Team, which resides in the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). This training covers topics related to: the sources of systemic discrimination, how systemic discrimination may manifest in a university setting, representation gaps in equity-seeking groups across the institution, how to address systemic discrimination – including through building awareness of unconscious bias and how to reduce it in assessment and decision-making, how to bring an equity lens to research inquiry and knowledge production, and best practices for enhancing EDI in recruitment, hiring, training, and mentoring both for HQP and for early career researchers and faculty.
  • Identification of eligible claims to the CRCEF allocation includes both examination of University financial records (from all research projects across the University including those research projects that are 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) as well as inclusive open calls through Faculties. The examination of University financial records simplified the process for researchers, especially those researchers shouldering dependent care and homeschooling responsibilities. Follow-up emails are issued routinely and responses requested even from those not applying, to ensure the reach of the program across the University.
  • The calls to the community for applicants will be issued through multiple, accessible channels. Chairs, Deans and Associate Deans (Research) will be required to ensure that the calls reach their full community of researchers, and will be instructed to ensure outreach to early career researchers and researchers who are known to be members of underrepresented groups. In other words, proactive strategies (e.g. town halls open to all members of the community, internal University newsletters, and a meeting with the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT)), will be deployed to connect with these researchers to ensure that they are equitably represented in the pool of applicants to present submissions for this application. Calls to the community will invite applicants to:
    • Indicate any particularly adverse consequences they experienced on account of COVID-19 on their ability to maintain habitual levels of research productivity, which may be tied to dependent care responsibilities or tied to a disability or chronic health conditions that may render them susceptible to a heightened risk of COVID-19
    • Self-identify if they are members of underrepresented groups. Protected groups at McGill, under our University’s Employment Equity Policy include: women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, racialized persons, LGBTQ2I+ persons, and ethnic minority persons.
  • McGill’s CRCEF allocation for Stage 3 will accord with robust EDI principles. This will be the case even if needs surpass this allocation; we note that McGill’s CRCEF allocation was not exceeded in Stage 1 (wage support), such that residual funding is being held for Stage 3 (pandemic-related costs incurred to maintain or ramp-up research). The allocation is based on the following principles:
    • Costs associated with ramp-up
    • Assessment of whether inability to work or maintain productivity relates to circumstances of adversity tied to membership in an underrepresented group, the holding of care obligations, and/or living with a disability (including chronic health conditions) that heightens susceptibility to COVID-19-related risks
    • Commitment to valuing excellence in research in all of its forms, including research that is community-engaged, land-based, interdisciplinary, developed with public, private and/or non-governmental actors, and/or anchored to GBA+ analyses.
    • Deployment of an equivalency class protocol, which is used at McGill in all employment and research award decisions. That is, in the event that two or more researchers compete for the same resource (e.g., position, award), the allocation shall be offered first to the researcher from the most underrepresented group at the University.
  • The Steering committee will record rationales for their decisions in regard to each application.
  • These decision-making principles will be publicly conveyed through the McGill Research website.
  • The application of EDI-based decision-making will be undertaken in close contact the SREA, who is a senior level advisor responsible for guiding and supporting the implementation of McGill’s EDI initiatives in research and will be available throughout the CRCEF administration process for guidance. Guiding principles will be made publicly available. McGill’s Associate Provost (Equity & Academic Policies), the most senior university official responsible for EDI, and a full professor of Law, will review the protocol and the final decisions.
  • Self-identification data at the institutional level, as available, will be used in final grant reporting.

More broadly, in administering the CRCEF funds, McGill’s CRCEF Steering Committee commits to full compliance with the program’s equity, diversity and inclusion decision-making and allocation requirements. This commitment is bolstered by McGill’s EDI statement: McGill University is a world-class institution of higher education and research. Our University recognizes that excellence in teaching and scholarship requires the convergence and collaboration of individuals of diverse identities, experiences, and ideas. Equally important, McGill values respectful and inclusive learning and work environments, which seek to identify and challenge historic and systemic barriers to full participation in university life and to foster discovery, advancement, and accomplishment, all of which benefit our University and society more broadly. McGill is committed to these values in the pursuit of all aspects of its academic mission.

Specifically, with respect to research as part of the University’s mission, McGill is committed to ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion across all aspects of the research ecosystem, including access to funding and the participation of all individuals in the research enterprise. The full statement can be found on the McGill EDI in research page: McGill University is also committed to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in research, including the production of knowledge, equitable access to funding opportunities, and the equitable and inclusive participation of all individuals in the research ecosystem.

The EDI strategy in the CRCEF also complements McGill University’s commitment to establishing and maintaining equitable and inclusive research environments, as noted in the McGill EDI Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

 

McGill Contact Information

Martha Crago, Vice Principal, Research and Innovation

  • Tel: 514-398-2995
  • Email: martha.crago [at] mcgill.ca
  • Assistant: linda.rice [at] mcgill.ca (Linda Rice), 514-398-4820

Nancy Ross, Associate Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation

  • Tel: 514-398-3418
  • Email: avpross.vpri [at] mcgill.ca
  • Assistant: karen.kinsella [at] mcgill.ca (Karen Kinsella), 514-398-7078

Cristiane Tinmouth, Associate Vice-Principal, Financial Services

  • Tel: 514-398-2063

Assistant: susana.melo [at] mcgill.ca (Susana Melo,) 514-398-2063

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