The HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund and the Harm Reduction Fund: Frequently asked questions

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How much funding can I apply for?

CAF: Organizations can apply for funding for a minimum of three (3) to a maximum of five (5) years. There is no minimum or maximum funding amount for organizations applying to the CAF.

HRF: Organizations can apply for funding for a minimum of three (3) to a maximum of five (5) years, depending on the scope of the project. Front-line projects will be eligible to receive a maximum of $250,000 annually for up to 3 years. This represents double the funding previously allowable under the HRF. Projects that are regional or national in scope and seek to address broader systemic issues are eligible for up to 5 years of funding and can apply for more funding with a strong rationale.

Can organizations receive funding from multiple federal funding programs?

Organizations can receive funding from multiple federal funding programs. However, PHAC cannot fund activities for which you are already receiving funding from another source. It is the responsibility of applicants to inform PHAC if they receive such funding from other sources.

Application Process

How do I apply for funding?

The HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund (CAF) and Harm Reduction Fund (HRF) solicitations are now closed. PHAC is no longer accepting Letter of Intent (LOI) submissions. The following is for information purposes only.

The deadline to submit a LOI was January 29, 2021 at 3pm EST. Applicants were notified of the LOI results via email on July 12th 2021. Applicants whose LOI was successful during the first stage, were invited to submit a full proposal. Approved projects will begin April 1, 2022.

What is the deadline for submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI)?

The deadline to submit an LOI was January 29, 2021 at 3pm EST.

How does the HRF differ from the CAF?

HRF is complementary to CAF, with the following key differences:

  • The HRF focuses on working with and supporting people who share drug use equipment (inhalation and injection equipment)
  • Capital costs may be eligible as a component of an HRF project, but not of a CAF project
  • Projects under the HRF are eligible to receive a maximum of $250,000 annually, while there is no maximum funding cap for CAF
Can an organization apply for both the CAF and the HRF?

Yes, as long as each project is distinct and stand-alone. The ability to carry out one project should not depend on another project being funded.

If you are applying to both the CAF and the HRF, you must submit separate proposals for each project. We will not accept joint applications to both funds.

Is there a maximum number of proposals a single organization can submit under each fund?

No. An organization can submit more than one application. However, multiple applications will not increase your chances of receiving funding, as each proposal will be assessed on its own merit.

We encourage you to focus on submitting high quality evidence-based proposals, rather than a high number of proposals.

How and when do you determine if a project will be funded through a grant or a contribution agreement?

This will be determined during the second phase of the solicitation process, once PHAC has received all of your required documentation. The decision will take into account a number of factors such as:

  • the nature of the project
  • the time frame required to complete it, and
  • the capacity and previous experience of the applicant.
How do I demonstrate a need in my LOI? What is considered evidence-based?

You should demonstrate a good understanding of the problem your project is seeking to address and the anticipated effectiveness of the proposed activities or intervention. For example, you can demonstrate your understanding of the situation by presenting evidence that supports the reason why your proposal meets the critical needs of the community, including:

  • the rate of infections in the geographic area
  • relevant factors of transmission
  • specific trends or challenges you seek to address, and
  • evidence of effectiveness of the proposed approach.

The evidence should directly relate to the population or audience you intend to work with. We recognize the limitations related to data availability for some populations and encourage you to consider both quantitative and qualitative sources of evidence. You should clearly establish the link between your evidence and your proposed project.

Use evidence that is specific to the key population you intend to reach and to the local context, such as:

  • population-based surveys and surveillance
  • jurisdiction-specific sources of data (such as reports focussed on specific key populations or with data disaggregated by population)
  • research findings
  • project evaluations
How will PHAC support smaller organizations applying for funding?

In addition to taking steps to simplify and streamline the application process, PHAC will be holding Question and Answer sessions following the launch of the solicitations to answer questions about the LOI process. Sessions will be available shortly following the launch of the solicitations, and again nearing the deadline for submission, to provide organizations the opportunity to ask questions relevant to their specific context.

Eligible Expenses and Activities

What types of activities are eligible for funding under the CAF and the HRF?

The CAF and the HRF support time-limited projects whose activities align with the federal role in public health, recognizing that the provision of public health and health care services fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The CAF and HRF do not provide funding to sustain the regular and ongoing operations of organizations.

For a full list of eligible activities, please visit:

Will PHAC fund direct health and support services for people living with HIV or hepatitis C?

The CAF and the HRF can support activities that facilitate access to services through peer-navigation. However, neither program can fund direct service delivery to individuals, as this falls within the jurisdiction of provinces and territories, such as health and social services (for example, STBBI testing, psychological counselling, substance use treatment).

Will PHAC support awareness activities through the CAF and HRF?

To be effective, initiatives must educate and promote behaviour change among target audiences. As such, the CAF and the HRF will support awareness campaigns that target a specific audience with activities designed to influence a specific behavior change over time.

Can projects take a broad focus to STBBI or focus on STI outbreaks?

Yes. STBBI share common risk factors, behaviours for transmission, and transmission routes. For example, in the case of certain sexually transmitted infections (STI) outbreaks, understanding the factors fueling the outbreak and the population affected may result in projects that take an integrated approach and reduce the risk for future similar outbreaks.

An integrated approach to prevention and control is often most effective. However, we recognize that infection-specific approaches are still appropriate in certain circumstances or communities.

Can organizations use current funding to support proposal writing?

No. While we appreciate the effort required to develop a funding application, project funding cannot be used for this purpose.

Will PHAC support travel and face-to-face gatherings?

Yes. The impact of COVID-19 on projects starting in 2022 is still unknown; however, in-person activities and travel expenditures are eligible. While virtual activities are encouraged, we will consider funding in-person activities and travel that are planned to take place later in the project (when COVID-19 impacts may have decreased) or where virtual delivery is not possible due to:

  • the nature of the activities
  • the intended population
  • the cultural norms or practices of the intended population
  • the realities in some northern, rural and remote communities
Will PHAC support projects that address social determinants of health?

STBBI do not affect all people equally. Vulnerability to, and resilience against STBBI are both directly and indirectly influenced by the social determinants of health. PHAC would support projects that address social determinants of health if the applicant clearly demonstrates the direct links of their intervention to the prevention and control of STBBI.

For example, a project may seek to improve linkages to programs or services that address syndemic health concerns (for example, mental health) or social determinants of health (for example, housing) that influence vulnerability to and resilience against STBBI among key populations.

What will determine if a currently funded project is eligible to be scaled-up?

We are committed to bringing high impact projects to scale so that more people benefit from them. Scaling up high impact projects could include:

  • continuing to fund projects that can clearly demonstrate the impact that their activities have had to-date on their key population(s) and/or target audience(s),
  • funding projects to expand the reach or scope of their existing programming, or
  • replicating or adapting successful programming to other parts of the country.

If you are applying for funding to continue your existing CAF or HRF project, or are looking to scale it up, we will expect you to demonstrate the impact of your current activities. This includes results achieved by your project, key lessons, as well as strengths and areas needing improvement.

Can I use CAF and HRF funding to respond to the opioid crisis?

While opioid-related overdose deaths remain a considerable public health crisis, costs related to opioid substitution therapy, drug testing and the purchase of naloxone are not eligible under the CAF or the HRF.

To be considered for funding under these funds, projects targeting people who use drugs must address the prevention and control of STBBI.

You can however outline how your key population may be affected by the opioid crisis and demonstrate how your project would address the intersection between these two public health issues. For example, an HRF or CAF outreach worker may distribute Naloxone or condoms as part of other activities, as long as the cost associated to the purchase of these supplies is covered by other sources of funding.

Will employee benefits continue to be a part of the funding envelope?

Yes, benefits of up to 20% of the annual salary for both full-time and part-time employees are eligible. Salaries and benefits must be directly related to the delivery of the project.

Knowledge Broker

What is the role of the National STBBI Knowledge Broker?

The National Knowledge Broker plays an important role in preventing and controlling STBBI by maximizing the reach and impact of STBBI resources and activities. It gathers and synthesizes relevant information, links knowledge producers such as researchers with end users like community-based organizations, and facilitates capacity building through knowledge exchange among target audiences. CATIE has played this role since being selected through an open solicitation.

Can organizations apply for population-specific knowledge broker activities?

Yes. We recognize that other organizations are well placed to engage in population-specific knowledge brokering activities to support front-line interventions. LOIs from other organizations to lead such activities will be eligible under the CAF and HRF open solicitations.

Review process

Who is responsible for reviewing the LOIs and who makes the final decision?

LOIs will first be screened by PHAC officials for completeness and to confirm the applicant meets the basic eligibility criteria. Complete and eligible LOIs will then be reviewed and assessed by provincial and territorial officials where appropriate, and then by review committees. These committees will include:

  • Individuals from key populations
  • people living with HIV or with lived or living experience of hepatitis C
  • individuals working in the STBBI community-based sector
  • researchers with a range of expertise in STBBI and harm reduction
  • PHAC officials

Reviewers will assess LOIs based on criteria outlined within the LOI, and recommend projects to PHAC to be considered for the second stage of the solicitation. Final funding approvals rest with PHAC.

Can I appeal the decision if my proposal is not recommended?

Funding decisions are final however, applicants can inquire to PHAC for feedback on their proposal to help them better prepare for future solicitations.

How will external reviewers be selected?

PHAC has shared a call for reviewer applications broadly with existing stakeholder networks, and has encouraged stakeholders to share it with people who:

  • live with HIV
  • have lived and living experience of hepatitis C
  • are from key populations
  • are researchers working in the area of STBBI / harm reduction
  • are front line workers in the area of STBBI / harm reduction
  • have experience with knowledge mobilization or brokering

Reviewers will be selected to ensure representation and balance on the basis of region, gender, age, population, expertise and experience. Reviewers must disclose any potential conflicts so they can recuse themselves if necessary.

What is the role of provincial and territorial governments in the CAF and HRF proposal review process?

Provincial and territorial officials will have the opportunity to review proposals from their respective jurisdictions and provide information on alignment with their STBBI public health priorities. This review will be shared with the review committees.

Are funding decisions based on funding history?

No. Funding history has no impact on funding decisions.

Evaluation and performance measurement

Why are applicants encouraged to budget for evaluation costs?

Evaluation and performance measurement are critical to your ability to assess the success of your project and to report on its impact. This is consistent with the Government of Canada's Policy on Results.

Funded projects must report on performance annually. Projects of a value equal or greater than $125,000 annually must submit a project evaluation. Of those, projects approved for a duration of 3 years, must submit a final evaluation. Projects approved for a duration of 4 or 5 years must submit a mid-term evaluation, as well as a final evaluation.

According to PHAC policy, funding recipient staff should not evaluate their own projects. This is a conflict of interest. Evaluations should be undertaken by someone independent of the recipient.

Organizations are strongly encouraged to dedicate up to 10% of their overall project budget to project evaluation. We recommend that you consider hiring an accredited evaluator or partnering with a researcher to support your project's evaluation activities.

When will evaluation plans be approved?

You will be asked to submit your evaluation plan (if applicable based on funding amount), your detailed budget and work plan during the full proposal phase. Evaluation plans must be approved by PHAC before the funding agreement can be signed. We will give you the necessary time to develop your evaluation plan during this phase of the solicitation.

Will PHAC provide clear guidance to applicants about performance measurement and evaluation expectations?

Yes. PHAC will provide clear and consistent reporting requirements and timelines for both evaluation and performance measurement, including key program performance indicators that projects will need to report on annually.


Did community organizations and people with lived experience have the opportunity to provide input into the solicitation process?

Yes. Between June and September 2020, PHAC held a series of virtual engagement sessions and Indigenous sharing circles to inform the CAF and the HRF solicitation processes. Approximately 300 people took part and provided valuable comments and personal perspectives, including:

  • people with lived experience
  • First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis Peoples
  • African, Caribbean Black and other racialized communities
  • representatives from community-based organizations
How will PHAC ensure people with lived experience are meaningfully engaged in funded projects?

Applicants are expected to demonstrate how people from key populations (including people living with HIV or with lived or living experience of hepatitis C) will be meaningfully engaged, consulted and employed. Applicants are expected to outline the role these individuals will play in the development, delivery and evaluation of the project.

Specific criteria have been included to assess this factor in the LOIs.

How do CAF and HRF recognize intersectionality across key populations?

You should identify the key population(s) that will be the focus of your project and tailor your proposed activities taking into consideration the culture, values and practices of the specific population(s).

An individual's identity consists of multiple, intersecting factors such as race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, immigration status, and sexual orientation. Therefore, you are also encouraged to consider intersecting identities for the identified key population(s), allowing for more tailored approaches and greater impact.

Creating safe and non-stigmatizing environments

How will PHAC ensure organizations selected for funding do not perpetuate stigma and discrimination in all of its forms?

We recognize the persistence of:

  • stigma and discrimination
  • colonialism
  • oppression
  • racism
  • homophobia
  • transphobia
  • sexism
  • ageism
  • ableism

We also recognize the profound impact of these barriers on health and wellbeing as well as access to health care and social services.

LOIs that use stigmatizing and/or discriminatory language could be significantly disadvantaged or be rejected by the review committee.

The review committee will give preference to LOIs that demonstrate that policies and mechanisms are in place to address these issues at the individual, organizational and system-level, and implement evidence-based strategies to address them.

You will be expected to demonstrate in your application how your proposed activities will contribute to addressing the unique stigma and discrimination barriers faced by your key population(s).

Impact of COVID-19

How are the CAF and HRF solicitations being responsive to the health disparities heightened through the COVID-19 pandemic?

We recognize that COVID-19 has stretched health and human resource capacities and reduced access to essential STBBI-related services, including testing, prevention and harm reduction, treatment and care.

Despite this, the pandemic presents opportunities to address longstanding systemic barriers to essential STBBI services for key populations, and to expand the promotion of:

  • innovative testing approaches
  • virtual modes of program delivery
  • combined services that minimize the use of overburdened health and social services and reduce the risk of exposures

While we recognize that future adjustments may be required to reflect the evolving context of the pandemic, you should consider the impact of COVID-19 as you design your projects. You are encouraged to consider the impact of COVID-19 on the health inequities experienced by your key population(s) and propose flexible and innovative approaches to implement your activities.

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If you have additional questions that are not addressed here, please contact us at

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