Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF)

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 supports 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 some of the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. The government will provide up to 75 percent 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 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.

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.

The Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN), which comprises the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals/research institutes, undertakes a significant proportion of Canada’s academic research activity. TAHSN institutions have been severely impacted by COVID-19, and are deeply appreciative that the Government of Canada has recognized and addressed this negative impact by creating the CRCEF program.  This funding will help all TAHSN members, including Unity Health Toronto, maintain staff and essential activities during the pandemic-related slowdown, interruption and ramp-up to full research operations.

The following TAHSN affiliated health care institutions are benefitting from CRCEF:

  • University of Toronto
  • Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
  • North York General Hospital
  • Sinai Health System
  • Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Trillium Health Partners
  • Unity Health Toronto
  • University Health Network
  • Women’s College Hospital

Stages 1 & 2

Upon confirmation by Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) of program specifications for the CRCEF program through Unity Health Toronto’s affiliation with the University of Toronto (lead institution) and the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN), a CRCEF Steering Committee was established. 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 of $41.6 million. The allocations and supporting data were shared with Unity Health Toronto 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, Unity Health Toronto and the other 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. Unity Health Toronto has entered into an inter-institutional agreement with the University of Toronto to enable transfer of Unity Health Toronto’s proportionate share of CRCEF funds upon receipt from TIPS.

Stage 3

Funding for this stage of CRCEF support will follow the same 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.

Unity Health Toronto is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Sound policies and practices informed by EDI principles apply to all institutional policies and decision-making.

Unity Health Toronto ‘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 regular basis. We are committed to upholding equity, diversity and inclusion in the decision-making process for the distribution of CRCEF funds.

At Unity Health Toronto, ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program rests with the Vice President, Research and Innovation, Dr. Ori Rotstein (Ori.Rotstein@unityhealth.to). The Senior Director, Research Operations, Dalton Charters (Dalton.Charters@unityhealth.to ) is accountable to the Vice-President on implementation.

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