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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:

  • Provide wage support 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 the government’s other 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 the ability of 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. 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 and 2

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 each of the affiliated hospitals/research institutes to enable transfer of funds upon receipt from TIPS.

Stage 3

Funding for the final stage of CRCEF support will follow similar 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 (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 and two LTRI trainee representatives. This committee oversees the institutional approach to 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.

  • Internal communications regarding the opportunity include language highlighting the commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in managing CRCEF funds;
  • Personnel involved in managing the CRCEF funds are required to have undertaken unconscious bias training
  • Decisions are not negatively affected by a researcher’s inability to work during the pandemic due to child/family care or increased risk related to exposure to COVID-19

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 and IT, Paul Kranjac, is accountable to the Director of Research on implementation.

 

 

          
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