Government of Canada helps over 30,000 research staff through ongoing COVID-19 crisis

News release

Emergency fund supports wages and projects at universities and health research institutions

March 5, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario—Canada Research Coordinating Committee

During times of crisis and socio-economic disruption, researchers provide key knowledge that can pave the way for a more promising future for Canadians. Their research can offer clear and diverse insights to help Canada navigate complex social, economic, public health and political challenges.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced that the Government of Canada has provided wage support for up to 32,000 research staff whose salaries were adversely affected by COVID-19, and who were not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. In addition, the government provided help to about 22,000 research projects to cover unanticipated maintenance and ramp-up costs that would not normally have been incurred if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, and could not be funded by existing sources of funds. This support was essential to safeguard the historic investments made by the federal government in fundamental research and research personnel since 2016.

This $415 million investment was provided through the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF), announced by the Prime Minister last May. It was distributed to 65 universities and 61 affiliated health research institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All institutions funded through the CRCEF complied with the program’s equity, diversity and inclusion requirements and took active measures to ensure barrier-free access to funding. 


“All parts of society have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Canadian universities and health research institutions. This wage support program has provided the funds needed to help research staff weather the crisis, protect research investments, and ramp up with ease as we build back better. “
—The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The CRCEF demonstrates the Government of Canada and federal research funding agencies’ commitment to stand by our country’s research personnel as we navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s universities and health research institutions have been resilient through this pandemic, and we are proud to support them.”

—Alejandro Adem, Chair, Canada Research Coordinating Committee; and President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

“Canadian researchers have made tremendous contributions to Canada’s pandemic response, but many have also been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. We are grateful for federal government funding through the CRCEF, which has helped maintain the research teams, infrastructure and activities that have built Canada’s global research strength. The program has provided vital wage support for research personnel and graduate trainees at UBC and across the country, while helping safely restart research that will be critical to Canada’s recovery and future prosperity.”

—Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, The University of British Columbia

Quick facts

  • Among the individuals awarded funding, about 9,300 were students, 3,000 were postdoctoral fellows and 19,500 were other research personnel.

  • The four-stage program included:

    • wage support of up to 75% for 24 weeks, to a maximum of $847/week, to help retain research staff normally funded from non-government sources
    • extraordinary incurred costs associated with maintaining and ramping up research activities that were interrupted during the pandemic
  • The CRCEF is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, which is housed at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The Canada Research Coordinating Committee provides strategic direction and oversight of the fund.

  • The Canada Research Coordinating Committee advances federal research priorities and the coordination of policies and programs of Canada’s federal research funding agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

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John Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Media Relations
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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