Last updated: August 28, 2020
On May 15, 2020, the Prime Minister announced $450 million in funding to help Canada’s academic research community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment is designed to do the following:
- Provide wage supports to universities and health research institutes so they can retain research staff who are funded from industry or philanthropic sources and are unable to access some of the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. The government will provide up to 75 per cent of the eligible portion of eligible research personnel’s wages, with a maximum of $847 per week for up to 12 weeks per individual, within the eligibility period of March 15, 2020 to August 29, 2020.
- Support universities and health research institutes to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are eased. This will cover up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs and will support activities, such as the safe storage of dangerous substances and restarting data sets that were interrupted during the pandemic.
The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) was launched by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) a few weeks later on June 23, 2020.
2. North York General Hospital and its benefits from CRCEF
North York General Hospital (NYGH), affiliated with the University of Toronto, is one of Canada's leading community academic hospitals. We offer our diverse community a wide range of acute care, ambulatory and long-term care services across multiple sites. Through partnerships, collaboration and academic endeavours, we seek to set new standards for patient- and family-centred care.
Research at NYGH has been impacted adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are grateful that the Government of Canada created the Canada Research Continuity Research Fund. This funding will help us to maintain staff and essential activities during the related slowdowns or interruptions to research and allow us to resume full research operations under new circumstances.
3. Distribution of CRCEF funds
Stages 1 and 2 of CRCEF Program
A CRCEF Steering Committee was established with the University of Toronto and the 12 hospitals comprising the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN). The Committee is complemented by a TAHSN CRCEF Data Working Group, comprised of representatives with expertise in research operations from each member institution. The Steering Committee and Working Group are diverse in their make-up and all members have undertaken unconscious bias training.
The lead institution, University of Toronto, calculated the allocation for Stage 1 of the CRCEF Program for each of the 12 TAHSN institutions using the formula determined by TIPS and data from the Canadian Association of University Business Officers. The allocations and supporting data were shared openly with all of the TAHSN institutions. Together, and in consultation with TIPS, the 12 institutions confirmed a common approach to determining CRCEF-eligible funding sources and full-time equivalent staff (FTE).
Given the timing of the receipt of the Stage 1 payment by TIPS to the University of Toronto, NYGH and the other TAHSN institutions were able to complete an analysis of the eligible head count and wage subsidy expenses for both Stages 1 and 2 of the CRCEF Program. This enabled the University of Toronto to clarify the amounts required at each stage for each institution. These actuals and also projections to August 29, 2020 were entered on the Convergence Portal, confirming the shared need for the full $41.6 million allocated to the TAHSN system in Stage 1 and an additional request in Stage 2. The allocation to NYGH in Stage 1 was $77,498 and no additional request was necessary for Stage 2. The University of Toronto entered into an inter-institutional agreement with each of the affiliated hospitals or affiliated research institutes to enable transfer of funds upon receipt from TIPS.
Stage 3 of CRCEF Program
Allocation of funding for Stage 3 will follow the same principles and processes as in Stages 1 and 2, with oversight from the Steering Committee and coordinated implementation by the Working Group. We will continue to develop common implementation parameters in consultation with TIPS.
4. Equity, diversity and inclusion in decision-making on CRCEF funding
At NYGH, a deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) imbues all institutional processes and decision-making. The strategy for EDI in decision-making for the use of CRCEF funds fits within this broader EDI framework, which is incorporated into daily organizational behaviour. Our decision-making values 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. More specifically, we ensure that all potential beneficiaries are treated equitably and that decisions are not negatively affected by a researcher’s inability to work during the pandemic due to childcare or family care or increased risk related to exposure to COVID-19.
5. NYGH contact for CRCEF program compliance
At NYGH, ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program rests with the VP, Medical & Academic Affairs, Dr. Donna McRitchie. The Director, Research and Innovation, Dr. Michael Wood, is accountable to the VP, Medical & Academics for implementation.