Announced in May 2020, the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) is 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.
The CRCEF is being rolled out in 4 stages.
- Stage 1: Salary Support - competition closed
- Stage 2: Salary Support - competition closed
- Stage 3: Maintenance and Ramp Up costs - competition closed
- Stage 4: Salary Support - competition closed
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.
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; 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.
Please visit the CRCEF program page to learn more about the program.
Commitment to Addressing Unconcious Bias
Unconscious bias is an “implicit attitude, stereotype, motivation or assumption that can occur without one’s knowledge, control or intention. Unconscious bias is a result of our life experiences and affects all types of people. Examples of unconscious bias include gender bias, cultural bias, age bias, disability bias, language and institutional bias." As it relates to academic disciplines, unconscious bias has the potential to unduly influence a committee member. The University of Lethbridge believes that no one discipline is better than the other, and no committee member/reviewer is more and/or less capable than another. The ability to read an application file for quality is a skill that transcends our relative disciplines.
All committee members are asked to complete the Unconscious Bias Training Module, which serves as a guide for preventing unconscious bias in merit review. It explains what unconscious bias is, outlines how it can affect the peer review process and suggests ways to mitigate the influence of unconscious bias. The module can be found at this web link: http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/program-programme/equity-equite/bias/module-eng.aspx?pedisable=false
The module was developed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council as part of their commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
The University of Lethbridge acknowledges that as a place of research, teaching, and learning, the full and equal participation of the widest diversity of people is necessary for excellence in creating and sharing knowledge. Advancing and protecting people’s human rights includes actively creating the conditions for their full participation and realization of their personal goals.
The University of Lethbridge endorses Universities Canada’s Principles on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Additionally, in 2019 the University of Lethbridge endorsed the NSERC Dimensions Charter and signed the Dimensions Pilot Affiliation Agreement, providing us with invaluable resources, as well as access to a “community of practice” focusing on EDI in the research and academic enterprise. The University of Lethbridge is also guided by several internal policies related to EDI including the Diversity and Employment Equity Policy, Aboriginal Education Policy, Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities, Harassment and Discrimination Policy, and Best Practices for Hiring with a Focus on Diversity and Equity, among others.
In the administration of the CRCEF program, the University of Lethbridge is committed to the following actions to ensure that all researchers have equitable access to program funds:
- All communications regarding the program are circulated via the University of Lethbridge faculty listserve and available on the U of L website (via the noticeboard or Office of Research and Innovation Services' (ORIS) website).
- Researchers from all Faculties may apply for eligible support. The requests from one Faculty are not considered more important than the other.
- All funding decisions will be based on CRCEF program eligibility. All disciplines will be treated equally in recognition that the U of L is home to diverse disciplinary pursuits that lead to knowledge and understanding. Research efforts that are 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 will not be disadvantaged.
The U of L sought to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the researcher's ability to apply for CRCEF support. To this end, ORIS
- Ensured that all program information and application forms were electronically available.
- Provided multiple reminders of the funding opportunity.
- Directly contacted researchers eligible in Stage 1.
- Provided a dedicated resource to answer all program questions and to help liaise with Financial Services on the identification of eligible expenses.
- Offered application extensions if requested.
CRCEF Decision-making process
The CRCEF program is administered by the Office of Research and Innovation Services (ORIS) and overseen by the General Faculties Council (GFC) Research Planning Committee. This committee is comprised of representatives from the U of L's senior leadership team as well as nine academic staff members representing each Faculty/School. In the case of the Faculty of Arts and Science, three representatives broadly represent the research disciplines within the Faculty: Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences. Appointments are made by the GFC Nominations Committee, which strives to ensure committee appointments reflect the broadest diversity possible. The current committee composition is available on the GFC Research Planning Committee page.
The GFC Research Planning Committee is the primary advisory body to the Vice-President (Research) that provides advice, recommendations, and feedback on the management of the CRCEF program. More specifically, the Committee is responsible for:
- Ensuring the principles of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) are considered when awarding CRCEF funds; and
- Providing funding recommendations to the Vice-President (Research).
Distribution of funds
The U of L does not have any affiliated health institutions.
The notational allocations in Stages 1-4 are sufficient to cover all eligible claims. Had funding requests exceeded available funds, we intended to review requests by priorty groups:
- Individuals belonging to equity seeking groups.
- Individuals classified as Early Career Researchers.
- Individuals that have been personally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applications from researchers that don't identify with the above points will then be considered.
ORIS worked with Financial Services to identify researchers that were eligible for funding; that is, holders of research grants supported by non-governmental sources (i.e., industry, foundations, not-for-profit, philanthropic funds, and international agencies). There are 34 eligible researchers. We emailed each researcher to advise them of the funding opportunity and encouraged them to apply if they met the following criteria:
- Have incurred (or anticipate incurring) salary expenses for research-related personnel within the eligibility period of March 15, 2020 to August 29, 2020.
- Have experienced a negative impact on their research program due to COVID-19. Any reduced productivity or interruptions to employment (complete or partial) are considered negative impacts, including restriction of campus workspaces, suspension of funding, absences to care for family members, lack of access to research participants, increased risk related to COVID-19, etc.
To ensure that no one eligible was inadvertently omitted, we also sent an email to all researchers via the faculty listserve. We also sent a reminder to apply the following week.
The number of researchers whose research was negatively impacted by COVID-19 was less than anticipated. We received salary requests to support nine graduate students and two postdoctoral fellows. Payroll provided ORIS with the pay information for the students/PDFs for a twelve-week period (April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020).
As a result, our stage 1 allocation is sufficient to fund all of the requests. The total salary support from the CRCEF for the 11 research personnel is $25,906.28, which leaves a balance of $79,512.82.
As the total request for funding support does not exceed our institutional allocation, no funding decisions were required beyond confirming applicant eligibility.
The U of L did not request any funds in Stage 2.
ORIS advised all researchers of Stage 3 funding via emails to the faculty listserve (initial announcement plus reminders) and the office's monthly newsletters.
The GFC Research Planning Committee is currently reviewing funded requests.
The GFC Research Planning Committee is currently reviewing funded requests.
Contact for CRCEF Program Compliance
Ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program at the U of L rests with the Vice-President (Research).