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The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF), announced on May 15th, 2020, is a temporary program that has been established by the Government of Canada 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. The CRCEF represents an investment of $450 million and more details were made available on June 23rd, 2020.

This program, which is being rolled out in three stages, has two objectives:

  • Stage 1 and Stage 2 – 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 (e.g., graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other personnel associated with research projects) during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic (up to $325 million); and
  • Stage 3 – to support extraordinary incremental costs associated with maintaining essential research-related commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then ramping-up full research activities as physical distancing measures are eased, and research activities can resume ($125 million).

1. Stage 1

1.1 Eligible Expenses

Eligible expenses for Stage 1 include 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 15th, 2020, to August 29th, 2020. Individuals who will have their wages funded by CRCEF cannot receive support from other governmental sources (e.g., Canada Emergency Response Benefit).

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 for the claim period.

Administrative costs, such as indirect costs, overhead or transaction costs are not eligible expenses of CRCEF.

1.2 Internal distribution of available funds

On June 25th, 2020, Bishop’s University was notified of CRCEF allocation, and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (ORGS) began collecting information on eligible personnel by validating Human resources and Payroll records and by reaching out to the Bishop’s community through email listserv and the ORGS monthly Newsletter. The Stage 1 application was submitted on July 6th, 2020 requesting the maximum allotment of $25,644, which was awarded on July 23rd, 2020.

The identified research-related personnel were validated further for their eligibility status and a second wave of contact with the Community was launched to find more eligible personnel. The Agency deadline to use Stage 1 funds was August 6, 2020.

Because there was less demand for Stage 1 funding than what was allocated to Bishop’s University, all eligible research personnel which requested this emergency fund obtained it. The unused Stage 1 funds ($25,321.01) will be held in reserve and applied against Stage 3.

2. Stage 2

Bishop’s University did not apply to Stage 2, because there were no residual needs from Stage 1.

3. Stage 3

3.1 Eligible Expenses

Only direct costs of research are eligible in Stage 3. Expenses for maintenance and ramp-up costs must be incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020, and associated with the following:

a)  Maintenance costs:

  • Cost 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.

Thus, eligible expenses in Stage 3 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 the Bishop’s Senate Research Committee.

The costs of research personnel can be eligible for partial reimbursement at up to 75% in Stage 3 for the period of August 30, 2020, to November 15, 2020, provided that the costs meet the Stage 3 eligible expenses criteria.

Internet connection, land line, cell phone connection and equipment for working remotely are eligible if they meet the Stage 3 eligible expenses criteria.

Refer to the frequently asked questions about eligible expenses for research maintenance and ramp-up for more information.

Administrative costs, such as indirect costs, overhead or transaction costs are not eligible expenses of CRCEF. Ramping-down expenses are not eligible.

3.2 Internal distribution of available funds

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which administers the CRCEF on behalf of the three federal research funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC), allocated $23,579 to Bishop’s University on September 4th, 2020. The application deadline and reporting deadline for Stage 3 funds is December 15th, 2020 (as per the CRCEF guidelines: “Due to the nature of the funding in Stage 3, which is based on incurred costs, the application and reporting is done simultaneously”).

In preparation for the Stage 3 deadline for reporting and application, the ORGS launched an internal competition on August 10th, 2020, via the Research Portal, to provide an equal opportunity to researchers with potentially eligible expenses of this emergency fund. This was communicated with the community via different methods (e.g., Notices and Faculty listserv, MyBU, Research Office Newsletter).

The internal application deadline for Stage 3 is December 9, 2020, 4:00 p.m. In order to ensure reporting validation for the external deadline, the ORGS requests that costs be incurred by the internal deadline of November 15th, 2020.

Applications must be submitted through BU Research Portal. Please fill and submit the “CRCEF Stage 3 Application” form, in the Awards section.

The internal adjudication process will be ensured by the Senate Research Committee, which will be subject to validation by the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC), providing the strategic oversight for the program and approving awards. Please consult section 5 for funding criteria that will be considered for a fair access to CRCEF Stage 3.

4. Stage 4

Bishop’s University did not apply to Stage 4.

5. Strategy for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion decision-making

The federal research funding agencies, as well as Bishop’s University, are committed to excellence in research and research training. Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges.

In adjudicating the CRCEF – Stage 3 funds*, the Senate Research Committee (for more information on the Senate Research Committee, visit the Research Funding page) will take active measures to prevent systemic barriers that result in individuals from equity-seeking groups receiving unequal access to, or being excluded from participating in, Canada’s research ecosystem. Equity-seeking groups include, but are not limited to, women, racialized minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and persons from LGBTQ2+ communities.

These measures are especially important in a crisis situation such as a pandemic, as unconscious biases are more likely to influence decision-making that must be done rapidly and in stressful circumstances. There is also evidence that points to a disproportionate impact of the pandemic on individuals from equity-seeking groups, for example, individuals with disabilities being unable to access necessary health care, women disproportionately shouldering childcare and homeschooling responsibilities, etc.

In order to guarantee that the adjudication process is fair and inclusive, we have ensured that:

  • As per the EDI recommendations, Bishop’s University ensures that the composition of the Senate Research Committee is diverse and inclusive in the best of its capacity;
  • All members of the Senate Research Committee are invited to complete an EDI training, including the CRC Unconscious Bias Training Module;
  • If the funds requested exceed the budget available, priority will be given to research projects having a positive impact on equity-seeking groups;
  • Researchers are given the opportunity, in the application form, to describe how the pandemic has affected their research. If they choose not to answer the question, it will not affect the evaluation of their application. This safeguard will ensure that decisions are not negatively affected by a researcher’s inability to work during the pandemic due to child/family care or increased risk related to the exposure to COVID-19.

To learn more about Bishop’s commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research, please visit the Research Funding page.

Please contact the Office of Research and Graduate Studies if you have any questions pertaining to the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund internal competition.

* Please note that this was not necessary in Stage 1, as all eligible research personnel which requested this emergency fund obtained it.