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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 four funding stages:

Stages 1 and 2

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 (e.g. industry contracts, grants from not-for-profit organizations, donations, user fees, etc.), 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]).

Eligible expenses

Stage 1 and Stage 2 funding can be used for:

  • eligible expenses for wage support incurred between March 15, 2020 and August 29, 2020;
  • 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;
  • personnel who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of COVID-19 within the eligibility period, as long as they are rehired and their retroactive pay and status meet the eligibility criteria for the claim period. Should the funds be used to retroactively pay personnel who were laid off, those personnel will be required to attest in writing that they did not receive wage support from other sources (e.g. the Canada Emergency Response Benefit [CERB]) during the lay off period.

Application process

In July 2020 researchers who had research accounts which held eligible non-governmental funds and had incurred or committed to payment of eligible research personnel costs were invited to complete an online questionnaire. The questionnaire provided the opportunity to identify which, if any, of the incurred or committed research personnel costs aligned with the Stage 1 eligibility criteria.

Based on the information obtained from the questionnaires, as well as institutional systems data, it was determined that the available Stage 1 funds would be sufficient to meet the identified wage support needs. Consequently, McMaster did not apply for Stage 2 funding.

Stage 3

Stage 3 of the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) provides support for direct costs of research that have been incurred to:

  • maintain essential research-related commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic; and/or
  • support ramping-up to full research activities as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume.

Eligible expenses

Stage 3 funds can be used to reimburse up to 75% direct costs of research that are:

  • specific to a research project;
  • extraordinary and incremental to those already covered by existing sources of funds (governmental or non-governmental). 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; and
  • incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020 (with the exception of personnel costs associated with research maintenance and/or ramp-up activities which must be incurred between August 30 and November 15, 2020).

Application Process 

To access the Stage 3 funds the University must demonstrate that:

  • McMaster researchers have incurred, or will incur, research maintenance and/or ramp-up costs that align with the program eligibility criteria noted above; and
  • McMaster researchers are in need of support to cover those costs.

If you have incurred costs that align with the program eligibility criteria and you would like those costs to be considered for Stage 3 support, please:

  1. complete McMaster’s internal application form;
  2. save a copy of the completed application form with your full name in the file name; and
  3. upload the completed application form to https://macdrive.mcmaster.ca/u/d/262ed35ece7c49b4b0a2/ by November 30, 2020.

Completion of the application form does not guarantee that funds to reimburse all eligible costs will be available. The availability of funding will depend on the amount of Stage 3 CRCEF funding the University is able to access and the level of need identified by McMaster researchers.

Should the eligible incurred costs identified by McMaster researchers exceed the amount of Stage 3 funding awarded to the University, the following priorities will guide allocation of the available funds:

  • researchers who self-identify as a member of an historically underserved, marginalized or excluded group
  • researchers who are engaged in research projects that involve marginalized and/or equity-seeking participants, communities, or partners
  • early career researchers who have held an independent academic position for five years or less as of July 1, 2020
  • researchers whose grant or contract funding has been decreased or cancelled by the sponsor as a consequence of COVID-19
  • costs incurred by shared research platforms, facilities, centres or institutes
  • research projects that have incurred eligible costs in excess of $1,500

Applications that fall outside of these priority areas will receive an equal proportion of any remaining funds.

Stage 4

Like Stages 1 and 2, Stage 4 of the CRCEF program provides 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 (e.g. industry contracts, grants from not-for-profit organizations, donations, user fees, etc.), 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]).

Eligible expenses

Stage 4 funding can be used for:

  • eligible expenses for wage support incurred between March 15, 2020 and August 29, 2020;
  • 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 24 weeks of salary support (consecutive or broken up over the eligibility period) per individual. Researchers who receive Stage 1 support for research personnel costs are eligible for an additional 12 weeks of salary support from Stage 4;
  • personnel who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of COVID-19 within the eligibility period, as long as they are rehired and their retroactive pay and status meet the eligibility criteria for the claim period. Should the funds be used to retroactively pay personnel who were laid off, those personnel will be required to attest in writing that they did not receive wage support from other sources (e.g. the Canada Emergency Response Benefit [CERB]) during the lay off period.

Application process

So that we can ascertain the level of eligibility and need for Stage 4 funding at the University, McMaster researchers who 1) have research accounts which hold eligible non-governmental funds, and 2) have incurred research personnel costs during the eligibility period will be contacted via email and asked to identify any eligible costs.

Researchers who applied for Stage 1 funding will be advised of the maximum amount of Stage 4 funding for which they are eligible based on the information provided during the Stage 1 application period, and given an opportunity to update that information.

Please note, there is no guarantee that funds to reimburse all eligible costs will be available.

Distribution of CRCEF funding to affiliated health research institutions

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).

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 Stages 2 and 4 provide wage support for research personnel. Universities and health research institutions that were not eligible for Stage 1 funding were eligible to apply for Stage 2 funding. Universities and health research institutions that were eligible for Stage 1 funding were also eligible to apply for Stage 2 funding but only if their eligible wage support needs exceed their Stage 1 allocations. Stage 4

Based on an assessment of the data available from their institutional systems and information obtained directly from researchers, McMaster, HHSC and SJHH determined that the awarded CRCEF Stage 1 funds were 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 and Stage 4 funding to provide additional support for incurred costs associated with research personnel paid from eligible non-governmental sources.

To access Stage 3 support, institutions must demonstrate need for the funds based on actual costs incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020. 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. 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.

To access Stage 4 support, institutions must demonstrate need for the funds based on actual research personnel costs incurred between March 15 and August 29, 2020. There is no maximum amount for which institutions can apply. However, the total funding available for all institutions is $84M. Therefore, there is no minimum amount to which institutions are guaranteed, even if they are able to demonstrate need.

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 Stage 1 and Stage 4 support will receive the same consideration, regardless of research discipline, area of focus, or way of knowing;
  • The following priorities will guide the allocation of available CRCEF Stage 3 funding:
    • researchers who self-identify as a member of an historically underserved, marginalized or excluded group
    • researchers who are engaged in research projects that involve marginalized and/or equity-seeking participants, communities, or partners
    • early career researchers who have held an independent academic position for five years or less as of July 1, 2020
    • researchers whose grant or contract funding has been decreased or cancelled by the sponsor as a consequence of COVID-19
    • costs incurred by shared research platforms, facilities, centres or institutes
    • research projects that have incurred eligible costs in excess of $1,500; 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.

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