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Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF)

1. Overview

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:

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 with details of Stages 1 and 2 (wage subsidy). Stages 3 and 4 were rolled out in September and October respectively.

2. Sinai Health and its benefits from CRCEF

The Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI) is one of the leading biomedical research facilities in the world and is responsible for supporting all research at Sinai Health. Created in 1985, the institute is profoundly advancing the understanding of human biology in health and disease. Many of the discoveries that began as fundamental research have already resulted in new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat common illnesses — bringing a healthier future to Canadians.

Research at Sinai Health has been severely impacted by COVID-19, and we are deeply appreciative that the Government of Canada has recognized this negative impact in the creation of the Canada Research Continuity Research Fund. This funding will help us in maintaining staffing and essential activities during pandemic-related slowdown of, or interruption to, research, and as we resume full research operations under new circumstances.

Learn more about LTRI

3. Method of distribution of CRCEF funds across Sinai Health and the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) in each stage of the program

Stages 1, 2 & 4 – Wage Subsidy

Wages support for research personnel whose salaries were adversely affected by COVID-19 and who are pain in whole or in part by non-governmental sources.

Upon confirmation by TIPS of program specifications for the CRCEF program, Sinai Health, together with the University of Toronto and its Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) affiliated institutions moved quickly to establish a CRCEF Steering Committee, comprising representatives of the hospital research institutes and the University. The committee includes representatives from 12 TAHSN hospital research institutes and the University of Toronto and is complemented by a TAHSN CRCEF Data Working Group, comprising financial/research operations representatives of each of the 12 institutions. Each group is diverse in its make-up and all members of each group have undertaken unconscious bias training.

The lead institution, University of Toronto, undertook an analysis to determine “notional allocations” across the 12 TAHSN institutions, using to the full extent possible the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO)-informed formula/data applied by TIPS in determining the TAHSN Stage 1 allocation to the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospital research institutes of $41.6 million. The allocations and supporting data were shared with Sinai Health and the other TAHSN affiliates. Open and transparent exchange of information has been a cornerstone of engagement throughout the process, consistent with our approach to all matters of shared interest over many years. 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, the TAHSN institutions were able to complete their Stage 1- and 2-eligible wage subsidy analyses, rendering data regarding the eligible head count and wage subsidy expense for both Stages 1 and 2. This enabled the University of Toronto to clarify the exact amounts required at each stage for each institution. These actuals (and projections to August 29, 2020) were entered on the Convergence Portal, confirming our shared need for the full $41.6 million allocated to the TAHSN system in Stage 1, and an additional $9 million sought through Stage 2. The proportion allocated to Sinai Health in Stage 1 is $2.2 million and $0.7 million is sought through Stage 2.  The University of Toronto has entered into an inter-institutional agreement with Sinai Health to enable transfer of funds upon receipt from TIPS.

Stage 4 was launched by TIPS on September 30 with a national budget of $84M derived from unspent Stage 2 funds. Stage 4 provides additional wage support for eligible research-related personnel by increasing the maximum duration of support from 12 to 24 weeks. Given that there are no institutional allocations in Stage 4, all 12 TAHSN institutions engaged in data collection within their institutions on all eligible claims for a consolidated submission to TIPS by November 30. Awarded funds will be shared across the 12 institutions, prorated consistent with the national funding rate.


Stage 3

To support direct costs of research that have been incurred to: 1) maintain essential research-related commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic; and 2) support ramping-up to full research activities as physical distancing measures are eased and research activities can resume.

Stage 3 was launched by TIPS at the beginning of September with a national budget of $125M. Full details for this stage were confirmed at the beginning of October. Although there are notional allocations in Stage 3 ($18.6M for TAHSN, of which $0.9M is attributable to Sinai Health), institutions are permitted to submit claims exceeding their allocation against the possibility of a supplemental allocation from the Program, should other institutions not require their full allocations. Sinai Health’s submission deadline to the University of Toronto is December 1st for Stage 3.

Sinai Health’s data collection exercise including an open call to the all researchers at Sinai Health, includes the ability to flag (EDI) considerations, on the assumption that demand will outstrip funds available and selection/prioritization for funding will be required (see Section 4 below).

4. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in decision-making on CRCEF funding

At Sinai Health, a deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion imbues all institutional processes and decision-making.

As part of its CRCEF decision-making process, LTRI established a CRCEF Advisory Committee comprising the Director of Research, Director Finance and IT, two members of the Research Executive Committee (namely, Drs. Anne-Claude Gingras and Dr. Stephen Lye), a representative from the Department of Medicine Research Committee (Dr. Susanna Mak), the Manager of Human Resources, Ms. Klaudia Dudas, the Manager, Research Receiving & Biobar, Mr. Terry Cater, a Post Doctoral Fellow, Bruno Sangiorgi, and a Graduate Student, Lamisa Mizan. This committee oversees the institutional approach to the allocation of the CRCEF funding. The composition of the committee is representative and diverse and includes members from different equity-seeking groups.

Sinai Health’s strategy for equity, diversity and inclusion in decision-making for the use of CRCEF funds fits within its broader EDI framework that is incorporated into the numerous selection/allocation opportunities that are undertaken on a daily basis. For CRCEF, we ensure the following.

Sinai Health adapted the Stage 3 and 4 data collection templates for academic divisions to include the capacity to flag claims that involve EDI considerations (without disclosure of personal information). In the open call to the research community, and in our instructions, identification of EDI considerations was encouraged. When the Stage 3 institutional award amounts are communicated by TIPS, Sinai Health will work with through it’s CRCEF Committee to finalize the allocation of funds awarded across eligible claims, taking EDI ‘flagged’ instances into consideration.

LTRI’s strategy for EDI in decision-making for the use of CRCEF funds fits within this broader EDI framework, which is incorporated into the numerous selection/allocation opportunities that are undertaken on a daily basis. We are committed to upholding equity, diversity and inclusion in the decision-making process for the distribution of CRCEF funds.

Read LTRI's EDI Action Plan

5. Sinai Health contact for CRCEF program compliance

At Sinai Health, ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program rests with the Director of Research at Sinai Health, Dr. Jim Woodgett. The Director, Finance & IT, Paul Kranjac, is accountable to the Director of Research on implementation.



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