Vision to Action: Canada Research Coordinating Committee Progress Report 2018-23—Executive Summary

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) advances federal research priorities, along with the policy and program coordination of Canada’s federal research funding agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). It provides a strategic forum for building consensus, and providing advice, direction and oversight on forward-looking initiatives that strengthen Canada’s research enterprise.

The Committee includes the executive heads of the CFI; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Health Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; the National Research Council; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; and the Chief Science Advisor.

Since its formation in late 2017, the CRCC has coordinated the implementation of major new initiatives across its member organizations, and particularly the three federal research funding agencies and the CFI, to meet the changing needs of Canadian researchers and Canadian society.

Our vision

Our engagement with the community

In 2018, the Committee organized national consultations engaging more than 1,500 people from 51 institutions. In 2019-20, it supported ministerial consultations on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research, and engaged First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in a national dialogue on Indigenous research. Since then, member organizations have worked together, with guidance from external advisory bodies, to develop and align innovative policies and programs implementing CRCC priorities.

Our successes

Leading interdisciplinary, international, high-risk / high-reward research

The CRCC created a game-changing program—the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF)—widely recognized for driving unprecedented international, interdisciplinary, high-risk / high-reward research. Since 2018, it has supported more than 800 Canadian-led projects and become a leading funder of global research on the COVID-19 recovery, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Positioning Canada as a valuable partner in global research and innovation

The CRCC helped broaden relationships among member organizations with international research funding agencies. Members adopted a common International Framework and have met with the executive heads of agencies in France, Germany, South Africa, the UK and the USA, laying the groundwork for future cooperation through NFRF and other initiatives.

Enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion

The CRCC promoted measures to inspire and sustain EDI in research. The Tri-Agency EDI Action Plan includes initiatives to do the following:

  1. Increase fair access to research support by gathering applicant data through a harmonized self-identification questionnaire to inform decisions, creating external advisory boards, mandating training, offering guidance, removing systemic barriers and consistently integrating EDI considerations in funding opportunities.  
  2. Promote equitable participation in the research system by working with institutions to encourage EDI in research through the Dimensions charter and pilot program, institutional capacity building grants, and integration of EDI considerations into major institutional programs.

Championing Indigenous self-determination and leadership

Through a national dialogue with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, the CRCC encouraged co-development of a tri-agency strategic plan to advance culturally relevant models of support for research by and with Indigenous Peoples. Implementation is overseen by the Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research, while the Reference Group for the Appropriate Review of Indigenous Research evaluates peer and merit review models across the agencies.

Supporting early career researchers

Recognizing that early career researchers (ECRs) play a vital role in renewing and diversifying the research enterprise, the CRCC called on federal funding agencies to provide targeted support for their work. The agencies allocated 250 new Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs for emerging scholars in 2018-19, and adopted a harmonized working definition of an ECR, to allocate dedicated funding consistently within their flagship programs while offering ways for ECRs to gain experience in the peer review process.

Developing research training for a knowledge-based society  

With direction from the CRCC, Canada’s federal research funding agencies are developing a comprehensive research training strategy, with appropriate funding levels, to help institutions attract and prepare a diverse population of students for careers in and outside academe. Development is guided by an external advisory committee and focuses on five themes: EDI, evolving career paths, Indigenous research and training, international mobility, and the harmonization and streamlining of policies and programs.

Meeting the COVID-19 challenge

During the pandemic, the CRCC served as a forum for sharing information and advice among member organizations, federal agencies and international partners, and encouraged accelerated communication between government and academia through the CanCOVID platform. It also initiated related NFRF calls and oversaw delivery of the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund, providing temporary wage support for 32,000 people, sustaining 22,000 projects.

A strategic forum supporting Canadian research

The CRCC performs a vital service in advancing coordination and innovation across its member organizations. It is inspiring and supporting an increasingly equitable, connected and innovative research enterprise, as a strategic forum for government and the research community to address emerging challenges and opportunities in Canadian research.

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