Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) was announced on May 15, 2020, as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The temporary 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. 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. This will maintain Canada’s international competitiveness in the global, knowledge-based economy, and contribute to Canadians’ health and social and cultural life, as well as the health of Canada’s natural environment.

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.

Program objectives

The program, which has a total budget of $450 million, has two objectives:

  • 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 during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic (up to $325 million); 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 as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume ($125 million).

Description of the program

The program consists of four stages. Institutions must apply for funding at each stage. The funding allocated at stages 1, 2 and 4 must be used exclusively for income support for eligible research staff. Stage 3 funding covers the costs incurred for the maintenance and resumption of research activities. Applicant institutions must demonstrate that they require emergency funding at every stage.

Institutions must use the funds allocated at stages 1, 2 and 4 exclusively for income support for research staff whose salaries are paid in whole or in part by non-governmental sources and whose pay was negatively impacted by COVID-19. All reasonable efforts must be made to avoid laying off or to rehire eligible research staff. Applicant institutions must ensure that the people for whom income support is being requested do not apply for any other income support (e.g., Canada Emergency Response Benefit).

Universities are responsible for distributing the funds among their researchers. They must present the method used to divide up the funds at each stage of the program and must also post this method on their public website. Funded institutions cannot keep any part of the subsidy to cover administrative or indirect costs.

Management of the program at HEC Montréal

To manage this program, a decision-making committee (hereafter “the team”) was formed to have a better overview of the community affected by the program and ensure a fair and respectful distribution of diversity. The composition of the committee satisfies the diversity and inclusion criteria.

The senior university official who will be responsible for ensuring that program requirements are met:

Caroline Aubé
Director of Research and Transfer
Caroline.aube@hec.ca
514-340-6255

We believe that these measures are especially important in a crisis situation such as a pandemic, since unconscious bias is more likely to have an impact on decision making if it is done quickly and under stressful conditions.

Institutional committee members

Members of the committee who determine the use of funds were chosen primarily based on their roles and responsibilities within the organization. Caroline Aubé, Director of Research and Transfer at HEC Montreal, also made sure that the committee was representative of the diversity of HEC Montreal's staff.

The members of the committee are:

  • From the HEC Montréal Executive Committee:
    • Caroline Aubé, Director of research and knowledge transfer office
  • From the General Secretariat:
    • Karine Parent, Coordination and information processing Agent for equity, diversity and inclusion
    • Lisanne Tremblay, Advisor - equity, diversity and inclusion
  • From the Research and Knowledge Transfer Office:
    • Sophie Briand, Director of operations
    • Suzanne Lapierre, Financial management Officer
  • From the Accounting and Treasury Services:
    • Luc Savaria, Director
    • Mariam Moussaddak, Director
    • Gilda Paduano, Interim Director of accounting and financial information
    • Raphaëlle Boulanger, Financial management Officer
    • Jérôme Pépin, Manager - administrative systems
  • From the Budget Services:
    • Carole Boudreau, Director
    • Stéphane Migneault, Officer - administrative systems
  • Professors (without conflict of interest):
    • Yossiri Adulyasak, Chairholder of a Canada Research Chair

Strategies and principles aimed at ensuring quity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in decision making related to funding use

HEC Montréal believes that diversity is an asset that should in no way be compromised. That is why it fully supports the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. To achieve this, HEC Montréal has implemented ambitious strategies to offer an inclusive environment for working and studying and to resolve any inequities experienced by the designated groups in its community.

HEC Montréal’s 2019-2022 equity, diversity and inclusion action plan is a reference point for all efforts made by HEC Montréal to honour this commitment.

HEC Montréal has therefore committed to taking serious measures to adopt the highest standards of equity, diversity and inclusion when it comes to making decisions involving funding use. The committee, a diverse and inclusive team made up of individuals from underrepresented groups, is responsible for the equitable distribution of funds. To help the committee fulfill its duties, members have all taken mandatory training on unconscious bias to offset the impact of such bias when making decisions.

To limit the effects of unconscious bias and systemic barriers, the team has developed a strategy that includes the following measures:

  1. Carefully analyze the program requirements.
  2. Use only eligible structured field combination (SFC) accounts. This strategy limits the negative impact of unconscious bias and systemic barriers by making it more difficult to identify the research staff/researchers associated with each account.
  3. Ensure that all disciplines and programs are taken into account.
  4. Ensure that all eligible staff is considered, based on the program criteria.

At stage 1, decision making regarding funding use required no arbitration, making it easier to respect our commitment with regard to equity, diversity and inclusion. The amount of the subsidy allocated at stage 1 ($1,065,691) was greater than the amount granted ($739,370). The strategy of selecting only eligible accounts based on program requirements made it possible to limit the negative impacts of unconscious bias and systemic barriers. Because we eliminated the SFC accounts not eligible for the program and followed the program guidelines, research staff members at HEC Montréal impacted by COVID-19 during the specified period were able to receive a portion of the emergency funding.

However, it may be necessary to assess researchers’ files at stage 3 if the eligible requests received exceed the amount allocated by the CRCEF. If that is the case, HEC Montréal will take the following measures:

  • The evaluation criteria adapted to the diverse skills and contributions will be defined prior to assessing the applications to ensure a fair evaluation process.
  • The same evaluation criteria will be applied consistently for all applicants.
  • Enough time will be allocated to assessing each applicant to avoid favouring one applicant over another.
  • EDI experts will be consulted as needed to avoid making decisions based on biases.
  • Career interruptions will be taken into account to avoid penalizing applicants with an unconventional career path.
  • Research that is off the beaten path and diverges from the dominant disciplines or that focuses on issues related to gender, race or minority status will be factored into the decision making.
  • Scientific production negatively affected by the pandemic will be taken into account when assessing files (for example, a researcher’s inability to work during the pandemic because he or she has to care for one or more children or family members, or because he or she is at greater risk of contracting COVID-19).

Moreover, it is possible that, if the funds received do not adequately satisfy the requests, the amounts allocated will simply be calculated on a pro rata basis according to the amounts obtained. This will ensure that the process is fair for everyone and that no bias occurs (e.g., if we receive 80% of the amount, we will allocate 80% of the amount calculated/eligible for all requests). The committee will therefore adopt the method that several granting agencies use for various competitions.

Stage 1

The funding obtained by HEC at stage 1 is greater than the amount allocated for income support for eligible research staff.

The amount obtained was $1,065,691, and the amount allocated for income support totalled $739,370. This funding made it possible to provide financial support for 209 employees (113 graduate-level students, 4 postdoctoral fellows and 92 research staff members).

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Eligible expenses

Institutions can receive income support of up to 75% of the portion of salaries/wages for research staff who usually receive funding from non-governmental sources, for up to $847 a week for a maximum of 12 weeks (consecutive or non-consecutive, during the eligibility period) per employee, for salaries/wages paid during the eligibility period from March 15 to August 29, 2020.

Employees who were laid off on a temporary or other basis because of COVID-19 during the eligibility period may be eligible retroactively, provided they are rehired and their retroactive pay and status satisfy the eligibility criteria for the reimbursement request period.

Research staff includes those who are employed by the university or health research institution and who work for faculty members performing research duties or who work in laboratories or science or engineering facilities with general research goals (including graduate-level students, postdoctoral fellows and other staff members associated with research projects). Head researchers are not part of the research staff.

Applicant institutions cannot solicit funding for benefits, salaries/wages, or portions thereof, or for expenses that are covered by:

  • other funding granted by federal research funding agencies
  • funding granted by the Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • funding received from any level of government, in particular assistance related to COVID-19

Individuals whose salaries or wages will be financed through this funding cannot receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Stage 2

No request was submitted for stage 2, since HEC did not use all the funds allocated for stage 1.

Stage 3

For stage 3, funding was allocated with a view to providing support for direct costs associated with the maintenance and resumption of research activities. Applicant institutions must justify their needs based on the real costs incurred between March 15 and November 15, 2020. In addition, research staff salaries may be eligible for partial reimbursement of up to 75 percent for the period from August 30, 2020 to November 15, 2020, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria for expenses for funding the maintenance and resumption of research activities.

According to CRCEF requirements, institutions that receive stage 3 funding must put in place an open and transparent mechanism for distributing the funding.

HEC Montréal put out an open call emailed to the faculty to identify the needs of each of the research project leaders with regard to the extraordinary additional direct costs needed to maintain and resume research activities.To be eligible to receive stage 3 funding, each project leader had to sent his or her request no later than 11:59 p.m. on November 29, 2020.

At this stage, the funding obtained by HEC is $ 360,314. The process of identifying eligible expenses by the Research Knowledge and Transfer Office and by the Accounting Department was completed and recommendations were communicated to the Institutional Committee meeting on January 15, 2021. Following this meeting, HEC Montreal has decided to grant $ 216,829 to four separate research groups.

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Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses for funding the maintenance and resumption of research activities must meet the following criteria:

  • additional unexpected costs that would not have been incurred in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic and that cannot be covered by other existing funding sources
  • direct costs associated with the resumption and maintenance of research activities
  • costs covered by the research projects’ budgets

Costs associated with the maintenance of research activities (during the lockdown):

Costs incurred during the eligibility period and associated with the maintenance of essential research activities during the pandemic, and costs that are exceptional in nature and that are added to the costs already covered by other funding sources are covered up to 75%. This includes:

  • sample management throughout the duration of the pandemic
  • maintenance of hardware, software, cohorts and data sets, including guarantees, licences and service contracts
  • technological equipment needed for remote access for asset preservation
  • personal protection equipment for staff assigned to maintenance
Costs associated with the resumption of research activities (after the lockdown):

The costs incurred during the period of eligibility and associated with the full resumption of research activities once the physical distancing measures have been lifted and research activities can resume will be covered. Only costs of an exceptional nature, in addition to costs already covered by other funding sources, will be covered up to 75%. Eligible expenses include those that are incurred as part of the projects and that pertain to:

  • the reorganization of the research environment and activities
  • additional costs that must be incurred to restore research activities to levels that existed prior to the pandemic, namely costs associated with experiments and restarting data collections and data sets (on populations or the environment, for example)
  • user fees that researchers on shared platforms are required to pay to restart research activities (e.g., animal care facilities, digital laboratories)
  • the establishment of new timetables for clinical trials and trials on human subjects, and the restarting of these trials
  • exceptional costs related to accessing special facilities and shared resources and platforms, as well as to knowledge transfer meetings and workshops
  • the reinstallation, safety checks and restarting of equipment and facilities
  • the replacement of laboratory and field equipment and supplies, reagents, perishable items, laboratory animals and living samples that were donated or lost
  • personal protective equipment and other related items belonging to research staff

At stage 3, research staff members’ salaries can be eligible for partial reimbursement up to 75% for the period from August 30 to November 15, 2020, provided they meet the expense eligibility criteria for funding the maintenance and resumption of research activities.

Stage 4

The aim of stage 4 is to provide additional income support for research staff who were eligible for stages 1 and 2 by increasing the maximum period targeted by the income support from 12 to 24 weeks.

The funding at stages 1 and 2 covers up to 12 weeks (consecutive or non-consecutive, during the eligibility period) of income support per employee. The funding at stage 4 covers all necessary additional income support, up to 24 weeks of support overall (stages 1, 2 and 4 combined) per employee.

Identifying eligible SFC accounts involved the same process as in stage 1, ensuring that research staff members’ income was not funded twice during the same period. An additional application for $491,692 was presented to the CRCEF, representing income assistance for 217 employees (120 graduate-level students, 5 postdoctoral fellows and 92 research staff members).

During the first notice of award on December 14, 2020, the granted funds ($ 310,691) were below the identified needs ($ 491,692). At the meeting on January 15, 2021, the Institutional Committee decided that the sums distributed would simply be prorated to the sums obtained in order to ensure that the process is fair for all people and that no prejudice is created (63 % of calculated / eligible sum for all claims).

However, the CRCEF has advised academic institutions that unused funds from Stage 3 (maintenance and / or resumption of research activities) would be transferred to ensure that salary support needs in Stage 4 are met. This is why the School received a second notice of award on January 27, 2021 for the total amount requested ($ 491,692). All professors with eligible projects have been notified of these changes, and the additional amount has been allocated to each of their respective research projects.

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Eligible expenses

Institutions can receive income support of up to 75% of salaries/wages for research staff who usually receive funding from non-governmental sources, for up to $847 a week for a maximum of 24 weeks (consecutive or non-consecutive, during the eligibility period) per employee, for salaries/wages paid during the eligibility period from March 15 to August 29, 2020.

Employees who were laid off on a temporary or other basis because of COVID-19 during the eligibility period may be eligible retroactively, provided they are rehired and their retroactive pay and status satisfy the eligibility criteria for the reimbursement request period.

Research staff includes those who are employed by the university or health research institution and who work for faculty members performing research duties or who work in laboratories or science or engineering facilities with general research goals (including graduate-level students, postdoctoral fellows and other staff members associated with research projects). Head researchers are not part of the research staff.

Applicant institutions cannot solicit funding for benefits, salaries/wages, or portions thereof, or for expenses that are covered by:

  • other funding granted by federal research funding agencies
  • funding granted by the Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • funding received from any level of government, in particular assistance related to COVID-19

Individuals whose salaries or pay will be financed through funding cannot receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.


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