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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 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 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 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. Baycrest and its benefits from CRCEF
Baycrest is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Baycrest is home to a robust research and innovation network, including one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute; the scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative; and the Baycrest-powered Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector.

Our Vision is a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfilment

Research at Baycrest 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 CRCEF. This funding will help us to maintain staff and essential activities during the pandemic-related slowdown of or interruption to research, and as we resume full research operations under new circumstances.

3. Method of distribution of CRCEF funds at Baycrest and the Toronto Academic Health Science Network in each stage of the program

Stages 1 and 2
Upon confirmation by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) of program specifications for the CRCEF program through Baycrest’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 makeup, and all members of each group have undertaken unconscious bias training.

The lead institution, the 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 Baycrest 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, Baycrest 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. The proportion allocated to Baycrest in Stage 1 is $329,779 and $59,023 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 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.

Stage 3 funding is for direct costs associated with maintenance and ramp-up of research activities for research projects that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click on this link to access information about the CRCEF program and the eligibility criteria for stage 3 expenses. https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/crcef-fucrc/index-eng.aspx

Click here to access information about the open call to apply for Stage 3 CRCEF funding. Documents:

  1. Open Call for Applications for Stage 3 funding
  2. Stage 3 funding Application form
  3. Terms of Reference for Stage 3 Internal Allocation Committee

Equity, diversity and inclusion in decision-making on CRCEF funding

It is important to understand that Baycrest is a separately incorporated, independent employer with its own governance and management structures. Therefore, Baycrest is responsible for management of CRCEF funding allocated to it, and for complying with the program requirements.
 
At Baycrest, a deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion imbues all institutional processes and decision-making. In relation to decision-making on CRCEF, a senior working group oversees the institutional approach to allocation of CRCEF funding to eligible claims.  The senior working group comprises a diverse and representative cross-section of Baycrest including the Executive Lead, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and all members have had unconscious bias training, thus, unconscious bias and systemic barriers will be limited, http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/program-programme/equity-equite/bias/module-eng.aspx?pedisable=false.  The group has representation from women, racialized minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons from LGBTQ2+ communities Baycrest’s strategy for equity, diversity and inclusion 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. 

The safeguards in place 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 are documented through the Work From Home process overseen by the Human Resources Department. The Work From Home process requires strategies to be put in place to enable those with childcare needs to engage in alternate work arrangements (work in evenings, if partner is not able to oversee childcare during the day). There is also a robust medical accommodation program managed by the Occupational Health & Safety department to enable those who have increased risk related to exposure to COVID-19 to stay at home. There is a strong equity, diversity and inclusion focus within the Research Division. This is reflected in the establishment of a Research EDI committee and includes staff at all levels of the Institute (scientists, early career scientists, trainees, support staff and administrative). One of the co-chairs, the Vice-President, Research is the EDI champion for the Institute and has extensive experience working with researchers who are involved in non-traditional or unconventional, based in Indigenous ways of knowing, outside the mainstream of the discipline. In addition, the Vice President, Research has led both at the Research Division-level and at the Executive-level the heightened focus on race and minority issues that can be manifested in the workplace. This, coupled, with the unconscious bias training of the committee members will ensure that the decision-making will value research that is non-traditional, unconventional or focused on issues related to gender, race or minority status.

The senior working group reviews the final submission to CRCEF program, and supporting documentation, to ensure that processes have been robust and transparent and that all potential beneficiaries have been treated equitably.
 

Baycrest contact for CRCEF program compliance

At Baycrest, ultimate responsibility for the CRCEF program rests with the Vice-President, Research. The Director, Research Operations (jlazarus@baycrest.org) is accountable to the Vice-President on implementation.