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.
The CRCEF is being rolled out in 4 stages. Stages 1 & 2 provide wage support to universities and health research institutions for up to 12 weeks to avert layoffs of research personnel. The support will cover up to 75% of research personnel salaries funded through non-governmental sources, to a maximum of $847 per week per employee. Stage 3 provides support to universities and health research institutions to cover the unanticipated, incremental costs associated with maintaining research assets at risk due to the pandemic and ramping up research activities once physical distancing measures are relaxed and ultimately lifted. Stage 4 provides additional wage support to applicants qualifying under Stage 1 and 2 eligibility.
University of Windsor Decision Process for Distribution of CRCEF Funds
The Office of Research and Innovation Services and the Finance Department are working with the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) to administer the CRCEF for the University of Windsor. The CRCEF will provide funds to the University of Windsor, and the Finance Department will distribute funds based on eligibility.
A committee appointed by the Office of Research and Innovation Services (ORIS) and the Finance Department of the University of Windsor developed a process to identify eligible recipients of CRCEF, this committee is co-chaired by the Executive Director Research and Innovation and the Controller and Executive Director Finance and Reporting.
The Finance Department identified all non-governmental grants and contracts that had incurred payroll expenditures during the time period of March 15, 2020 – June 30, 2020 to identify projects that may be eligible for the CRCEF program. After a review of the summary of the non-governmental grants that had incurred payroll expenditures during this time period, an email was sent to all identified Principal Investigators inviting them to apply in order to request CRCEF funding.
Given the extremely short timeline for reporting and applying for CRCEF funding, and in order to ensure that all those who were eligible could access the funding, this program was publicized in the University of Windsor’s daily email news digest. University of Windsor faculty members completed the Stage 1 application form if they believed they were eligible for this program.
The committee reviewed each application by first confirming eligibility and ensuring that requested funding did not exceed the limit as set out by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat. Applicants were required to confirm that their students have not been claiming other federal wage support such as Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
The University of Windsor has demonstrated exemplary commitment over the past 30 years to employment equity and is committed to achieving and maintaining diverse and inclusive representation amongst all of its employees. UWindsor is equally committed to ensuring that researchers at UWindsor are provided with an equitable, diverse and inclusive (EDI) environment and that the University’s policies and procedures continue to support ongoing research excellence in a fully equitable and inclusive manner. The evidence clearly shows that increasing equity, diversity and inclusion in research environments enhances excellence, innovation and creativity. EDI policies and practices strengthen the research community, as well as the quality, social relevance, outcomes and impacts of research. The University of Windsor is committed to respecting principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in the administration of CRCEF funds.
All members of the UWindsor-CRCEF Committee completed unconscious bias training to ensure they are aware of how to limit unconscious bias and its impact on equity-seeking groups. The committee is composed of individuals from equity-seeking groups and members of the committee have had leadership roles in drafting the EDI in research policy of the University of Windsor.
EDI principles are followed in all stages of the process to prevent systemic barriers from impeding access to funds sought by equity-seeking groups. Researchers reporting a need for research personnel wage support are advised that EDI principles must be taken into consideration when requesting support for their research teams.
In the review of the CRCEF submissions, the committee will ensure that all eligible research funding is considered, ensuring support for research that is non-traditional or unconventional, based on Indigenous ways of knowing, outside the mainstream of a discipline, or focused on issues of gender, race or minority status.
To ensure that 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 the committee identifies potential applicants and communicates details about the program through various means. Identification of eligible claims to the CRCEF allocation includes both examination of University financial records as well as inclusive open calls to the research community (via email to all faculty including those not immediately identified in the financial records).
All University of Windsor salary data was coded and extracted from the financial management system based solely on CRCEF eligibility requirements. The data was cross-checked and verified for completeness at multiple levels.
Self-identification data was requested from applicants at all stages (1-4) (but not required) and will be used in final grant reporting.
The committee has applied a consistent and pro-rated approach to all funding applications and was able to fully fund all eligible applicants to the fund in Stage 1. As a result of the total eligible expenses not exceeding the CRCEF Stage 1 allocation, UWindsor did not apply for additional funding in Stage 2. Residual funding from Stage 1 is being held for Stage 3.
The call for Stage 3 applications has been distributed widely, through a variety of channels (email, web-based, and targeted), to ensure that all eligible to apply for the funds are aware of this resource and their eligibility. Applications will not operate on a first-come first-served basis. To further ensure an inclusive communication strategy, all principal investigators have been contacted directly via a survey tool and program information has been distributed broadly and at multiple levels to promote awareness of the program and the importance of equity and inclusion within administration of the program.
If CRCEF funds are insufficient to fully fund all identified eligible expenses the committee will consider prorating available funding to a consistent and equitable percentage for all applicants.
Any questions or concerns in respect of UWindsor’s participation in, or response to, the CRCEF should be directed to: Heather Pratt, Executive Director, Research & Innovation firstname.lastname@example.org
Information by stage
CRCEF Stage 4 (Information to come)