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CRCEF Program Overview and Objectives

As part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada recently introduced the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) program. The objectives of the program are to:

  • provide wage support to universities and health research institutions to help them retain research-related personnel during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • 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.

The CRCEF program includes three funding stages. Stages 1 and 2 provide wage support for research personnel (i.e. undergraduate or graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other personnel associated with research projects) who are, or were:

  • employed by universities or health research institutions for some period of time between March 15 and August 29, 2020;
  • working for faculty members conducting research, or in scientific and engineering facilities/laboratories supporting broad research objectives;
  • unable to do all or some of the work for which they were hired as a consequence COVID-19;
  • paid in part or in whole from eligible non-governmental sources, or were supposed to be paid from eligible non-governmental sources but were paid less than planned or laid off as a result of COVID-19; and
  • not claiming other wage support (e.g. Canada Emergency Response Benefit [CERB]).

Stage 3 of the CRCEF program provides support for direct costs incurred between March 15th and November 15th, 2020, associated with maintenance and ramp-up of research activities, such as:

  • 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;
  • safety equipment for personnel dedicated to maintenance;
  • 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);
  • re-scheduling and restarting human and clinical trials;
  • 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, laboratory animal and other living specimens; and
  • personal protective equipment and related items for research personnel.

To access CRCEF funding McMaster must submit an application to each stage of the program demonstrating need for the requested funding. The applications are submitted by McMaster on behalf of the University and its affiliated health research institutions – Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation (HHSC) and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH).

Distribution of CRCEF funding to affiliated health research institutions

The CRCEF program awarded Stage 1 funding to universities and their affiliated health research institutions on the basis of a formula that was applied to each institution’s annual average over three years (2015-16 to 2017-18) of the total of research income from all non-governmental sources as indicated in the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) research income reports.

The Stage 1 funds awarded to McMaster University and our affiliated health research institutions, HHSC and SJHH, were allocated among the three institutions in accordance with the share of the awarded funds earned by each institution. The share of allocation earned was determined by each institution’s share of the average over three years (2015-16 to 2017-18) of the total of research income from all non-governmental sources outlined in the CAUBO research income report.

Like Stage 1, CRCEF Stage 2 provides wage support for research personnel. Universities and health research institutions that were not eligible for Stage 1 funding are eligible to apply for Stage 2 funding. Universities and health research institutions that were eligible for Stage 1 funding are also eligible to apply for Stage 2 funding but only if their eligible wage support needs exceed their Stage 1 allocations.

Based on an assessment of the data available from their institutional systems and information obtained directly from researchers, McMaster, HHSC and SJHH have determined that the awarded CRCEF Stage 1 funds are sufficient to address the need for eligible wage support at their respective institutions.

On behalf of the University and our affiliated health research institutions, McMaster intends to apply for Stage 3 funding to support incurred costs associated with maintenance and ramp-up of research activities. The CRCEF program will establish a maximum amount of Stage 3 funding for which each institution can apply. The maximum amount will be based on a formula that will be applied to each institution’s annual average over three years (2015-16 to 2017-18) of the total of research income from all sources as indicated in the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) research income reports.

To access Stage 3 support, institutions must demonstrate need for the funds based on actual costs incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020. If an institution demonstrates need for Stage 3 support in excess of the maximum amount for which they are eligible to apply, and additional funds are available, then the institution may request additional support.

Strategy for equity, diversity and inclusion decision-making

Decisions regarding the allocation of CRCEF funds within McMaster University will be made by the Vice-President Research (VPR), the Associate Vice-President Research (AVPR), the Vice-Dean Research of the Faculty of Health Sciences (VDR), and the Associate Deans Research (ADRs) of each of the other five Faculties. Meetings of the VPR, AVPR, VDR and ADRs take place on a monthly basis to examine research policies and procedures, exchange ideas and initiatives across all Faculties, discuss implementation of interdisciplinary approaches to research, and identify opportunities for partnerships.  This interdisciplinary body includes representation from historically under-represented groups, and all members have received training in unconscious bias.

Collectively, the VPR, AVPR, VDR and ADRs are committed to managing the CRCEF funds in a manner that aligns with the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. The decisions made by this body regarding allocation of CRCEF funds awarded to McMaster are consistent with the objectives outlined in the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy: Towards Inclusive Excellence. McMaster’s EDI Strategy reflects the University’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive community, where the rights of all individuals and groups are protected and all members feel safe, valued, empowered and respected for their contributions to the shared purposes of the University: research and education excellence. Specifically, McMaster’s EDI Strategy aims to help the University to exemplify inclusive excellence by enhancing:

  • campus community understanding of inclusive excellence as an institutional imperative and improving campus-wide EDI efficacy;
  • systems and resources to support data-informed and evidence-based EDI-related planning, decision-making and practice;
  • inclusivity and opportunities for interdisciplinarity in curricula and scholarship across Departments and Faculties;
  • inclusive leadership capabilities by establishing baseline EDI training requirements and offering ongoing professional development;
  • opportunities for meaningful consultation with, engagement of, and provision of support to equity-seeking groups; and
  • the recruitment and retention of equity-seeking employees and students.

In accordance with McMaster’s EDI Strategy, to minimize the impact of implicit biases and systemic barriers, while acknowledging inequities that contribute to differing experiences of COVID-19, the following principles will guide the University’s management of the CRCEF funds:

  • All researchers, regardless of discipline, area of focus, or way of knowing, will have the opportunity and be encouraged to identify costs that are eligible for CRCEF support;
  • All eligible requests for CRCEF support will receive the same consideration, regardless of research discipline, area of focus, or way of knowing; and
  • The process whereby costs eligible for CRCEF funding are identified will be simple, flexible, and account for the fact that the circumstances of some researchers (such as other demands and/or commitments, health concerns or technological limitations) may impact their ability to participate directly in the process.

In accordance with these directives, upon release of the CRCEF program guidelines, to ensure that all researchers were aware of the CRCEF program and had the opportunity to request support, an announcement was issued to all McMaster researchers, as well as Faculty and department administrators, advising them of the CRCEF funding and encouraging them to identify and request support for eligible costs. To make the support request process as easy as possible, an online portal was created to provide researchers with an opportunity to identify their need for CRCEF funding and assign delegates to provide information on their behalf, should they choose to do so. Information about who to contact for assistance was shared with all researchers, as well as department and Faculty administrators, and several online drop-in help sessions were arranged to assist anyone who was experiencing difficulty accessing or using the portal. Moreover, department and Faculty administrators were provided with access to the portal so that they could follow-up with researchers who had not yet logged into the portal, provide them with support and/or relay information on their behalf if requested. To ensure that researchers who were unable to access the online portal were not disadvantaged, institutional systems data was also used to assess the eligible needs of the University’s research community. The institutional systems data was used to confirm and supplement the information provided via the online portal.

The VPR, AVPR and ADRs have decided that, if all of the funding requested by McMaster is awarded, it will be allocated within the University such that all eligible costs will be supported to the maximum amount allowed by the CRCEF program guidelines. If McMaster does not have sufficient CRCEF funding to fully fund all identified needs, then the available funding will be allocated such that each identified need will be supported to the same extent insofar as each will receive the same percentage of funding.

Contact information

The following University representative is responsible for ensuring the CRCEF program’s requirements are satisfied, and can be contacted should there be any questions or concerns regarding management of CRCEF funds at McMaster:

Sherisse Webb, Director
Research Office for Administration, Development & Support (ROADS)
McMaster University
webbsh@mcmaster.ca