2018-19 Progress Report


We are pleased to announce the release of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee’s (CRCC) first progress report.

The report provides an update on the important steps the CRCC has taken to shape Canada’s well-coordinated, federal research funding system.

 

The vision for the future of Canada’s research landscape is a bold, world-leading and highly coordinated system of federal support for science — a system that fosters research excellence and contributes to the social and economic well-being of Canadians.

Canada Research Coordinating Committee

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan
Minister of Science and Sport

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

On behalf of the Government of Canada, we would like to thank the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) for its ongoing work to improve the delivery of federal support for research and to position Canada as a global leader in research excellence.

In the short time since it was established, the committee has played a leading role in our government’s efforts to revitalize the federal research funding system. It has already taken important steps to harness the energy of our early career researchers, mobilize Indigenous research and knowledge, and improve equity, diversity and inclusion in academia.

Establishing the CRCC was a key element in the government’s plan to reinvigorate the science and research landscape in this country. We have a vision of Canadian science and research that is bold and forward looking.

We want our researchers to take risks and be innovative. We want our scientists and students to have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment. We want the halls of academia to better reflect the diversity of Canada itself. Collaboration is key to achieving these goals and much more.

We appreciate the expertise and wisdom of the members of the CRCC and look forward to continuing our work together to continuously improve Canada’s research ecosystem.

Ted Hewitt, PhD

Ted Hewitt, PhD
Chair, Canada Research Coordinating Committee

Transformational changes have taken root in the Canadian science funding system in 2018-19. With the creation of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC), major strategic investments and the engagement of Canadians, we have begun revitalizing our programs and policies. Our goal is to create a research environment that is integrated and agile, more international, interdisciplinary and inclusive, that supports young innovators and encourages risk-taking — a truly Canadian research enterprise.

In reflecting on our efforts, three things stand out for me.

First, we have taken important steps in the way we are working together — between agencies, across government, with institutions, communities and researchers in all disciplines.

Second, we are truly building on the promise of Canadian research. We are encouraging researchers to take risks, innovate and work with partners nationally and internationally. We are building new and meaningful relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. And we are implementing policies that support young scholars and make equity, diversity and inclusion hallmarks of research excellence.

Third, I am struck by the scale and the scope of our task. It will take time for the roots of such transforma-tional changes to spread. But inspired by the vision, investments, engagement and innovations of the past year, Canadian researchers have urged us to be bold.

On behalf of the CRCC, I want to thank Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan and Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor for placing their faith in us and giving us the mandate and resources to succeed. I want to thank staff throughout our agencies who have worked so hard this year. Most of all, I want to thank the Canadian researchers and administrators, Indigenous leaders and scholars, and postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who have shared their experience and insights with us.

I look forward to seeing the roots of change take hold across the research landscape in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

Ted Hewitt


Members of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee

Members of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee include, from left: Ted Hewitt, Roseann O’Reilly Runte, Michael Strong, Mona Nemer, Simon Kennedy, David McGovern (delegate, associate deputy minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development) and Iain Stewart. Missing from the photo are John Knubley and Digvir Jayas.
Photo Credit: SSHRC

The Minister of Science and Sport and the Minister of Health established the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) in October 2017 to revitalize the federal research funding system in Canada and better meet the needs of Canadian researchers. They asked the committee to increase the harmonization and coordination of policies and programs and address five national priorities:

The February 2018 federal budget invested significant funding to help address these priorities.

Leadership

The committee brings together the executive heads of Canada’s three funding agencies — the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) – and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), as well as Health Canada (HC), Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), the National Research Council (NRC) and the Office of the Chief Science Advisor.

Coordination

The committee established a work plan that set out a common vision, core principles, desired outcomes, actions and deliverables to address the five priorities. Each funding agency nominated a senior executive to champion each priority and struck working groups, with staff from the three agencies and CFI to implement change.

Engagement

The CRCC sought the advice of Canadians in national consultations, engaging with more than 1,500 people through regional roundtables, online questionnaires and submissions from agencies, associations and institutions across the country. The advice received is helping to shape transformative policies and programs addressing each priority. The starting points and complexity of the required measures vary from one priority to another. Yet, with support from the highest levels, work has advanced in every area.


Key accomplishments in 2018-19

Priority: Interdisciplinary, international, high-risk/high-reward, rapid-response research

  • Launched the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) to support three streams of research: Exploration, Transformation and International in December 2018.
  • Launched the inaugural Exploration call for early career researchers doing innovative, high-risk/high-reward interdisciplinary research in December 2018.

Priority: Key emerging research areas

  • Started designing a methodology to analyze Canadian and international research funding and publications data to identify key emerging research areas and Canada’s place in them in December 2018.
  • Prepared consultations with policy leaders in government and stakeholder organizations to identify research areas with the greatest potential to transform science, have significant societal impacts, or both in January 2019.

Priority: Equity, diversity and inclusion

  • Harmonized tri-agency collection of self-identification data from all applicants from May to September 2018.
  • Developed a tri-agency Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan for fair access, equitable participation and evidence-based decision-making in September 2018.
  • Provided mandatory Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) training for all tri-agency staff; it was completed by all CRCC members and secretariat staff in December 2018.
  • Launched pilot EDI Institutional Capacity-Building Grant program in February 2019.
  • Minister Duncan launched a draft “Made-in-Canada” Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Charter in February 2019.

Priority: Indigenous research

  • Launched Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation—Connection Grants in June 2018. Awarded 116 grants in November 2018.
  • Started engaging with Indigenous communities across Canada in July 2018.
  • Held National Dialogue in March 2019.

Priority: Early career researchers

  • Adopted tri-agency working definition of early career researcher (ECR) in June 2018.
  • Developed a tri-agency ECR Action Plan for fair access, equitable participation and evidence-based decision-making in September 2018.
  • Harmonized tri-agency performance indicators to enable the monitoring of success of ECR initiatives in December 2018.
  • Allocated 250 new Tier 2 awards for early career/emerging researchers in the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program in December 2018.
  • Added a research stipend of $20,000 per year for first-term Tier 2 CRC chair holders in December 2018.

Researchers developing new insights, building fundamental knowledge and creating cutting-edge technologies are at the heart of scientific discovery, social change and business creation in Canada. Their innovation and insights reshape our society and increasingly focus on issues and opportunities that can emerge rapidly and spread quickly across national and disciplinary boundaries.

The Government of Canada established the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) and made investments in Budget 2018 to help Canadian researchers play leading roles in this new economic, social and research environment. The government called on the committee to invigorate the Canadian research enterprise by harmonizing policies and programs; facilitating interdisciplinary, international, high-risk/high-reward, fast-breaking research; and ensuring that all Canadians have a fair chance to participate, contribute and succeed.

This progress report summarizes the committee’s accomplishments in its first year (2018-19). As an inaugural report, it highlights government leadership in establishing the committee’s mandate and membership, setting national priorities and providing essential support. It highlights the steps the committee and agency officials have taken to coordinate their work, engage the research community and start the process of change in five priority areas.

The starting points, challenges and measures introduced to address each priority are not the same, yet consistent progress has been made. Committee members look forward to closer cooperation, deeper engagement and transformational changes in the year ahead.

As Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning for Robotics and Control, Angela Schoellig’s research focuses on coordinating strategies for aerial vehicle swarms.

As Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning for Robotics and Control, Angela Schoellig’s research focuses on coordinating strategies for aerial vehicle swarms.
Photo Credit: University of Toronto

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science and Sport, and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of Health, established the CRCC on October 27, 2017, to reinvigorate the federal research funding system to better meet the current and future needs of Canada’s scientists, scholars and students.

The ministers mandated the committee to achieve greater harmonization, integration, collaboration and coordination of programs and policies. The committee would address issues of common concern to Canada’s research funding agencies — the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) — and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

At the same time, they asked the committee to address five national priorities.

They appointed the presidents of CFI, CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC and the National Research Council (NRC), as well as the deputy ministers of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Health Canada (HC), and the chief science advisor to serve on the committee. Members as of March 31, 2019, are:

The ministers appointed Hewitt to serve as the committee’s first chair. The position will rotate among the presidents of the three granting agencies.

At its first meeting, the committee nominated B. Mario Pinto, then president of NSERC, to serve as vice-chair. Strong assumed that position in October 2018. Others who served on the committee during its first year include:

The 2018 federal budget invested significant funding to help the committee address national priorities. It allocated $275 million over five years for a new fund to support international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking, high-risk research and advance efforts in key emerging areas. It set aside $6 million over five years to improve data collection and $15 million over five years for programs to improve EDI in research at postsecondary institutions. It invested $3.8 million in 2018-19 to co-develop, with Indigenous partners, a strategic plan that identifies new ways of doing research by and with Indigenous communities. Finally, the budget allocated $210 million over five years for the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program to attract and retain leading ECRs at postsecondary institutions while increasing diversity among nominated researchers.


From left: Ted Hewitt and Mark Thomson (executive chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK Research and Innovation) signed a letter of understanding between the Canada Research Coordinating Committee and UK Research and Innovation.

From left: Ted Hewitt and Mark Thomson (executive chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK Research and Innovation) signed a letter of understanding between the Canada Research Coordinating Committee and UK Research and Innovation.
Photo Credit: SSHRC

Iain Stewart welcomed Donna Strickland, the 2018 Nobel Laureate in Physics, to the NRC on January 18, 2019.

Iain Stewart welcomed Donna Strickland, the 2018 Nobel Laureate in Physics, to the NRC on January 18, 2019.
Photo Credit: NRC

Committee members established a foundation for sustained coordination, drawing on the agencies’ experience of shared corporate services (SSHRC and NSERC) and cooperative management of policies and programs such as the Tri-council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, the Networks of Centres of Excellence and the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat. They adopted terms of reference that established an open and collaborative working culture and prepared a work plan that set out a common vision, core principles, desired outcomes, actions and deliverables to meet the five priorities.

Each funding agency nominated an executive to champion each priority and struck working groups with staff from the three agencies and CFI to implement change. Following the 2018 federal budget, the committee strengthened its capacity for inter-agency coordination by establishing a committee of assistant deputy ministers and executive vice-presidents. The existing Inter-Agency Executive Vice-Presidents’ Forum coordinated CRCC activities with other agency initiatives. As CRCC initiatives moved closer to implementation, an inter-agency forum bringing together vice-presidents responsible for agency programs was organized along with a growing number of inter-agency project teams.

The committee is supported by a secretariat that has adapted over the past year to meet organizational needs, manage national consultations and facilitate inter-agency coordination.

An integral part of the committee’s efforts to work in an open and collaborative manner is a determination to share its plans and progress with the research community, invite dialogue with stakeholders and consult widely with researchers, administrators and Indigenous communities on the development and implementation of its initiatives. With that in mind, the CRCC established a web presence on the ISED Science and Innovation website to centralize public communications and announce major initiatives. The chair also gave several interviews in research publications. Finally, committee members actively engaged with Canadian and international stakeholders and community leaders to raise awareness and receive feedback on their plans and progress.


For more information, see: www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/127.nsf/eng/home

The committee met with Minister Duncan on June 8, 2018, to present draft proposals for initiatives to encourage EDI; support ECRs; and fund international, interdisciplinary and high-risk, rapid-response research. With the minister’s support, they proposed consulting with researchers and research administrators across the country to test and refine the proposals before launching initiatives.

To engage a wide-ranging and thoughtful national discussion, Canadian researchers, administrators and stakeholders were invited to contribute in a number of ways.

In all, more than 1,500 people helped shape better policies and programs. For a summary of their advice, see the CRCC Summary Report on Proposed Measures to Strengthen Science in Canada at www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/CRCC-CCRC/report-rapport-eng.aspx.

Priority: Interdisciplinary, International, High-Risk/High-Reward, Rapid-Response Research

World-leading research is increasingly international and interdisciplinary in scope as researchers cross academic and geographic boundaries to solve emerging challenges. It can involve significant risk, require a rapid response and produce paradigm-shifting results. However, while the research landscape is continuously evolving, the mechanisms through which research proposals are evaluated and funded have remained relatively static. This has created barriers to funding for research that involves one or more components of interdisciplinary, international, high-risk/high-reward and rapid-response research.

As a result, there was a need to establish a space in the Canadian research ecosystem to explore innovative review mechanisms that can overcome some of the limitations of traditional peer review processes.

Launched New Frontiers in Research Fund to support three streams of research: Exploration, Transformation and International on December 6, 2018.

Launched inaugural Exploration call for early career researchers doing innovative high-risk/high-reward interdisciplinary research on December 6, 2018.

Actions

New Frontiers in Research Fund

To achieve this goal, the CRCC created a new fund to support international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and high-risk/high-reward research. In designing the fund, the CRCC drew on insights from the national consultations, the Fundamental Science Review and lessons learned from Canadian and international funding agencies.

On December 6, 2018, Minister Duncan launched the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) with $275 million over the next five years and $65 million ongoing. It is composed of three streams.

The first Exploration call was designed specifically to provide opportunities for ECRs to conduct innovative high-risk/high-reward interdisciplinary research not eligible for existing agency programs. It encouraged them to defy current paradigms, propose unique directions, bridge disciplines and tackle fundamental problems from new perspectives. Projects must be interdisciplinary, take sex- and gender-based analysis into account (if applicable) and support EDI in their team and training environment. Grants valued at up to $125,000 a year for two years will be awarded in spring 2019.

With multiple streams and a staged roll out, the fund makes it possible for the CRCC to address diverse objectives, explore innovative merit review processes and learn as each phase is introduced. To facilitate the high level of collaboration between agencies needed to manage a truly interdisciplinary program, the CRCC serves as the fund’s steering committee, responsible for program direction and oversight.

For more information on the NFRF, please see: www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/nfrf-fnfr/nfrf-fnfr-eng.aspx

From left, Tara Janzen, development manager and acting chief executive officer of Wanuskewin Heritage Park, gives a tour of the facility to Ted Hewitt and the Honourable Kirsty Duncan.

From left, Tara Janzen, development manager and acting chief executive officer of Wanuskewin Heritage Park, gives a tour of the facility to Ted Hewitt and the Honourable Kirsty Duncan.
Photo Credit: SSHRC

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor toured a lab at St. Justine Hospital in Montréal.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor toured a lab at St. Justine Hospital in Montréal.
Photo Credit: CIHR

Priority: Key Emerging Research Areas

In an age marked by the rapid evolution of technology and dramatic environmental, social and economic change, researchers are addressing new challenges and pursuing new opportunities with the potential to significantly change the way we live. Canada has played a leading role in such transformative research in the past. Yet the breadth and speed of change today make it increasingly important for the federal funding system to adopt a more systematic and coordinated approach toward identifying, supporting and sustaining Canadian research in key emerging areas.

In this context, the CRCC has pursued strategies to identify and support Canadian research in key emerging areas and plays a coordinating role on the international stage.

Started designing a methodology to analyze research funding and publications data to identify key emerging research areas in December 2018.

Prepared consultations with policy leaders in government and stakeholder organizations in January 2019.

Actions

The NFRF will provide an investigator-driven mechanism for identifying key areas with the potential to transform science, have significant societal impacts, or both.

To complement this approach, the CRCC has begun developing strategic mechanisms to identify transformative research areas. These include:

These initiatives will continue to inform and reflect evolving government and CRCC priorities in the year ahead.

Priority: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

A more inclusive research enterprise makes for better research, a stronger society and a more innovative economy. That is why Canada’s funding agencies promote EDI throughout the federal funding system. Still, significant inequities remain in both the research funding and higher education systems.

Harmonized tri-agency collection of applicant self-identification data from May to September 2018.

Developed tri-agency EDI Action Plan in September 2018.

Provided mandatory GBA+ training to all tri-agency staff; it was completed by all CRCC members and secretariat in December 2018.

Launched pilot EDI Institutional Capacity-Building Grant program in February 2019.

Minister launched a draft “Made-in-Canada” Athena SWAN Charter in February 2019.

Actions

Tri-agency EDI Action Plan

To advance EDI throughout the research enterprise, the CRCC consulted researchers and research administrators. Discussions focused on measures to ensure fair access to research support and equitable participation and treatment in the research system for researchers from underrepresented groups, as well as the kinds of data collection necessary for evidence-informed decision-making.

The committee received recommendations that the three funding agencies integrated into a harmonized tri-agency EDI Action Plan, which will be released in the coming months. In preparation, staff began work on each of the plan’s three pillars, taking the following first steps toward implementation.

  1. To ensure fair access to research support, the agencies introduced unconscious bias training for all reviewers and made Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) training mandatory for all policy and program staff.
  2. To increase equitable participation in the research system, the agencies started to collect baseline data on the number of researchers from underrepresented groups participating in agency programs. See Annex I.
  3. To build comprehensive data for evidence-informed decision-making, in summer 2018, the agencies began to ask all applicants to indicate their gender identity and whether they identify as Indigenous, as a visible minority, or a person with a disability. They invested in system upgrades, staff training and coordination to ensure data security and confidentiality throughout this process.

“Made-in-Canada” Athena SWAN Charter

The UK Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Charter is an internationally recognized initiative that provides a framework for institutions to voluntarily improve the access and participation of underrepresented groups in higher education and research. It is an effective lever for change, helping attract scholars and enrich research in the UK, Australia, Ireland and the United States. With support provided in Budget 2018, Minister Duncan led development of a unique “made-in-Canada” version.

To ensure the future Canadian charter addresses Canadian realities, the minister held consultations in the summer and fall of 2018. She unveiled a draft “made-in-Canada” charter, giving underrepresented groups and institutions an opportunity to provide feedback, on February 11, 2019, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Pilot EDI Institutional Capacity-Building Grants Program

The CRCC recognized that Canadian postsecondary institutions, particularly smaller institutions, will face challenges in aligning with tri-agency EDI requirements and a Canadian Athena SWAN Charter. Significant efforts are needed to identify and eliminate systemic barriers to the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented groups within institutional policies, practices and cultures. Such efforts require time for self-assessment, allocating resources, adjusting job descriptions and promotion processes, reviewing research policies, collecting data and producing benchmarks and analyses.

To support Canadian institutions as they take on these challenges, Minister Duncan launched the first call for a pilot tri-agency EDI Institutional Capacity-Building Grant program on February 11, 2019. The program will provide small institutions and colleges with up to $200,000 per year for up to two years for projects to develop and implement EDI policies, plans and training.

New Frontiers in Research Fund launch.

Taking part in the New Frontiers in Research Fund launch was the Honourable Kirsty Duncan (front centre), Ted Hewitt (middle centre), Benoit-Antoine Bacon (president of Carleton University, back centre), Jeremy Kerr (professor of biology at University of Ottawa, far right) and some of his student research team.
Photo Credit: SSHRC

Priority: Indigenous Research

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on the federal government—in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, postsecondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions—to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation (Call to Action 65). The commission also called on the Government of Canada to assist communities to research and produce histories of their own residential school experience and their involvement in truth, healing and reconciliation (Call to Action 78).

Both calls were echoed by the minister of Science and Sport and the minister of Health in charging the CRCC to co-develop a strategic plan with Indigenous partners to increase the capacity of Indigenous communities to conduct research and partner with the broader research community.

Launched Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation—Connection Grants in June 2018.

Awarded 116 Grants in November 2018.

Started engaging with Indigenous communities in July 2018.

Held National Dialogue in March 2019.

Actions

Budget 2018 allocated $3.8 million for that purpose. As a result, the committee launched two engagement streams to facilitate discussions directly with Indigenous organizations and create opportunities, through grants, for Indigenous not-for-profit organizations and the academic community to lead independent engagement activities.

Initial plans called for up to six regional events and 50 grants. In the end, 14 events organized in partnership with Indigenous organizations were held across Canada, convening about 500 participants, including Elders, Knowledge Keepers, community leaders, researchers, students and youth. These events provided CRCC members and senior tri-agency staff important opportunities to listen, learn and think deeply about the breadth of issues affecting Indigenous perception, interest, participation and leadership in research.

For a list of events and community partners, see Annex II.

Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation—Connection Grants

To complement discussion with Indigenous communities, the CRCC launched a special call for Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation Connection Grants on National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2018. The call invited proposals for targeted interdisciplinary events, outreach activities and position papers to help guide new ways of engaging in research by and with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Open to Indigenous and other not-for-profit organizations and academic institutions in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, the call offered grants of up to $50,000 for six months with the possibility of a six-month extension.

The number of applications received and recommended for funding following merit review far exceeded the original budget allocation. In response, all three granting agencies sought additional resources and succeeded in funding 116 projects. That represented a success rate of 85 per cent for projects led by Indigenous not-for-profit organizations and 40 percent for those led by academic institutions and non-Indigenous not-for-profit organizations. Award holders joined community leaders from across Canada and CRCC members in Ottawa on March 12 and 13, 2019, for a National Dialogue.

For more information on the Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation—Connection Grants, see: www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/programs-programmes/indigenous_research-recherche_autochtone-eng.aspx

Bentwood box carved by Coast Salish artist Luke Marston, at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Bentwood box carved by Coast Salish artist Luke Marston, at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Photo Credit: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba

Senator Murray Sinclair addressed the National Dialogue on Research and Reconciliation in March 2019.

Senator Murray Sinclair addressed the National Dialogue on Research and Reconciliation in March 2019.
Photo Credit: SSHRC

Priority: Early Career Researchers

Canada aims to be a world leader in the development of talent throughout the research career life cycle. However, over the past 10 years, the academic career prospects for early career researchers (ECRs) have been adversely affected by an increased number of doctoral graduates and slow growth in full-time faculty positions. ECRs have also faced difficulties getting research support. Some of the causes are temporary, and some contributing factors are beyond federal influence. However, the Government of Canada can play a constructive role in addressing these concerns through its support for research, scholarships and fellowships and the CRC program.

Adopted tri-agency working definition for early career researcher in June 2018.

Developed tri-agency ECR Action Plan in September 2018.

Harmonized tri-agency ECR performance indicators in December 2018.

Allocated 250 new Tier 2 awards for early career or emerging researchers in the CRC program in December 2018.

Added a $20,000/year research stipend for first term Tier 2 chairholders in December 2018.

Actions

Tri-agency ECR Action Plan

Through the national consultation process, the CRCC received numerous comments and recommendations that helped the three granting agencies develop a strategy for addressing the concerns of ECRs.

A critical first step in June 2018 was the funding agencies’ decision to adopt a common working definition of an ECR as a researcher within five years of their first research appointment, not including any eligible leaves. For these researchers, the tri-agency ECR Action Plan includes initiatives to ensure fair access to research support and equitable participation in the funding system, as well as measures to harmonize relevant data collection across the three agencies.

To establish a baseline for future comparisons and drive continuous improvement, the agencies began to harmonize their data collection, tracking and reporting procedures. They gathered existing data on ECRs and identified gaps and differences between agencies in the data available and the way it was collected. They agreed on the type of information needed to understand the experience of researchers at different career stages and the use of unique identifiers to track researchers as they move across agencies and through career stages. See Annex III for historical ECR data from flagship investigator-initiated research grant competitions.

Canada Research Chair ECR-EDI Initiative

To attract and retain leading ECRs to postsecondary institutions across the country, Budget 2018 added $210 million over five years, with $50 million per year ongoing, to the CRC program. This investment also aims to increase the diversity of chairholders from four designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and visible minorities.

As a result, the program established 285 new awards and allocated 250 of these for Tier 2 (early career or emerging researcher) positions. A research stipend of $20,000 per year for first-term Tier 2 chair holders was added to the program’s design.

Regan Mandryk (right) was awarded an E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers.

Regan Mandryk (right) was awarded an E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers.
Photo Credit: NSERC

Catherine Mah (left) conducts research into where, how and why we buy food, as well as what we buy and eat, and why it has a big influence on our health.

Catherine Mah (left) conducts research into where, how and why we buy food, as well as what we buy and eat, and why it has a big influence on our health.
Photo Credit: CIHR

An important transformation is taking place in this country. The CRCC is strengthening the national research enterprise to engage the talents of all Canadians, to mobilize Indigenous knowledge and harness the energy of young innovators. It is creating opportunities for all researchers to take risks, transcend disciplinary boundaries and work with colleagues around the world on the most urgent and promising ideas of our time. Creating the CRCC — with its focus on closer collaboration, less paperwork and quicker response time—and making a more nimble, coherent and capable funding system is no less transformative. The promise for Canada and Canadian research is inspiring.

To realize that promise in the years ahead, the CRCC will build on the policies and programs introduced in 2018-19. The coming months will see calls for transformative interdisciplinary and international research launched within the New Frontiers in Research Fund. It will see the publication and implementation of the tri-agency EDI and ECR Action Plans and a “made-in-Canada” Athena SWAN Charter. It will also see the co-development, in collaboration with Indigenous communities, of new models to support Indigenous research and research training that contributes to reconciliation. And certainly, 2019-20 will see increasing levels of coordination across the federal funding system and engagement with the research community.

It will take time for the roots of such changes to spread. But the work has begun, and researchers are already looking ahead, invigorated by the vision, coordination and engagement of the past year. They are urging the CRCC to be bold.

From left: Ted Hewitt, Dominique Bérubé (vice-president, Research Programs at SSHRC) and the Honourable Kirsty Duncan toured various labs at Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards. Erin Kennedy showed them one of the robots she created that is designed to clean up shorelines.

From left: Ted Hewitt, Dominique Bérubé (vice-president, Research Programs at SSHRC) and the Honourable Kirsty Duncan toured various labs at Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards. Erin Kennedy showed them one of the robots she created that is designed to clean up shorelines.
Photo Credit: SSHRC

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