As part of the federal government’s response to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on research activities, $251 million was provided to the Tri-Agencies - Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for salaries and stipends to help address the financial impact of interruptions to grant-funded activity due to COVID-19.
CIHR, SSHRC and NSERC wrote to Principal Investigators (PIs) of eligible grants directly to offer a salary and stipend Supplement between July and August 2020. An offer was made for each eligible grant. PI’s who accepted the Supplement had to confirm the following.
- They continued to pay salaries or stipends to students, trainees and/or research support personnel between April 1st and June 30th, 2020
- Their research activity was interrupted between April 1st and June 30th, 2020 due to the pandemic.
The April 1st to June 30th period can be considered the ‘qualifying period’ (when research was interrupted) for the offer of Supplement funding.
When will my Supplement be available?
A separate research fund has been created for your Supplement award. The Supplement fund is visible in My Research On Line and will have the same project title as the grant for which the supplement was issued (the ‘primary grant’).
What is the value of the Supplement?
Supplement amounts were calculated by the Agencies on a per-grant basis by obtaining the average annual grant amount, then calculating a percentage of the 3-month value of the grant. The amounts offered were non-negotiable.
Eligible use of Supplement funds
Supplements can only be used for salaries (including benefits) and stipends for students, trainees, and research support personnel. All other expenses are ineligible.
Supplements cannot be used for the remuneration for work directly associated with a program of study, as opposed to research, for trainees who graduated in the spring of 2020
The eligible period to use the Supplement funds, which is different than the qualifying period, is detailed below.
- For NSERC and SSHRC: April 1st, 2020 to March 31st, 2021 (no extensions)
- For CIHR: April 1st, 2020 to March 31st, 2022 (extensions possible up to end-date of grant for which the Supplement was provided.)
Any unused Supplement funds at the end date are returned to the Agency. Also, for NSERC and SSHRC, the Supplement funds do not have an unfunded extension year. We recommend these funds be used sooner rather than later wherever possible.
In addition, those who are paid from the Supplement funds must ensure they did not receive benefits through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), or other federal COVID-19 income supports including Tri-agency scholarships and fellowships while simultaneously being paid by these supplements. To meet this requirement for recordkeeping and audit purposes, payees should complete the Attestation Form which is to be retained by the Business Officer or financial officer at the Department or Faculty where the Tri-Agency Supplement Grant is held.
Institutions are required to retain a record of a payee’s declarations that they did not benefit from the programs noted above while simultaneously being paid by a Supplement grant. To facilitate collection of this information from those who will be paid through these additional funds, an Attestation Form is available for use and recordkeeping.
IMPORTANT: Payees must complete, sign, and return the Attestation Form to the PI and the Department or Faculty Business Officer where the PI’s grant is held.
The form should not be returned to Research Service Office (RSO), Innovations and Partnerships Office (IPO) or Research Accounting.
Staff in VPRI cannot provide advice or guidance on CESC, CERB, or other related CRA rules in relation to these programs. Those who have questions about those programs should refer to the program websites or contact those program representatives directly with their questions.
If you choose to share a portion of the Supplement with collaborators at another institution, or if you are a hospital-based PI wishing to transfer some or all of your supplement to yourself at the hospital, you will need to request that we prepare a sub-grant agreement (inter-institutional agreement). To request a sub-grant agreement, please contact MayLiza Baak at email@example.com.
As noted above, the Supplement funds may only be used to pay salaries or stipends of trainees, and salaries of research support personnel. Research Accounting is responsible for preparing the financial reporting to the Tri-Agencies (using the Tri-Agency ‘Form 300’) based on the deadlines each Agency has set.
CIHR Supplement funds:
Research Accounting will prepare a single Form 300 for the grant for which the supplements that were awarded, and incorporate the salaries and stipends paid from the Supplement grant onto that single Form 300. Because CIHR provides a longer timeframe to use the Supplements, we recommend business officers post salary and/or stipends paid to payees (once the payee has completed the Attestation Form) to the Supplement grant fund as soon as they can to ensure the funds are fully used. See FAQ for more details.
NSERC & SSHRC Supplement funds:
Research Accounting will prepare a single Form 300 for the grant for which the supplements were awarded, and incorporate the salaries and stipends paid from the Supplement grant onto that single Form 300. Given the timeframe within which to use the Supplements, or else risk returning them to the Agency, we strongly recommend Business Officers post salary and/or stipends paid to payees (once the payee has completed the Attestation Form) as soon as possible to ensure the Supplement grant is used in full. See FAQ for more details.
Do I need to submit an MRA?
No. Because the Supplement award is based on an existing grant, the existing MRA was used to create the research fund for the Supplement grant.
How will I know when my additional funds are available for spending?
You will see a new fund appear in ‘My Research On Line’ with the same sponsor name and project title as the original fund, with two key differences: The total budget will be the smaller Supplement amount, and the grant start date will be April 1, 2020.
I’m confused by two different date ranges in the Supplements program: April 1st to June 30th 2020, and April 1st 2020 to March 31st 2021 (or longer for CIHR Supplements). What period can I use the funds for?
The April 1st to June 30th 2020 timeframe was the period of time the Tri-Agencies used to ask eligible grant holders to confirm that their research was interrupted due to the pandemic but they continued to pay students, trainees and/or research support personnel. This can be considered the qualifying period for the Supplement program.
The April 1st to March 31st, 2021 (or longer for CIHR Supplements) timeframe is the eligible period of time the Agencies have provided for you to use your Supplement funds. You can pay students, trainees, and/or research support personnel during the eligible period of time with your Supplement funds, provided that they are not simultaneously benefitting from other federal benefit programs in response to COVID-19, and that they (the ‘payee’) sign the Attestation form and return it to you and your department or faculty Business Officer.
Where do my trainees / research support personnel submit their signed attestation form?
Trainees and/or research support personnel received some of the above-noted federal benefits (e.g. CESB, CERB). Are they ineligible to be paid by the Supplement grant as a result?
As long as the payee is not receiving any of the federal benefits at the same time they are being paid from the Supplement grant, they can be paid with these funds. For example, if the payee collected CESB from May to August, and you start paying them from the Supplement funds as of September 1st, that’s fine provided they are not receiving CESB as of September 1st.
If I paid trainees and/or research support personnel between April 1st and June 30th from another source of funds instead of my Tri-Agency Grant, can I reimburse those other funds from the Supplement grant?
Yes, you can transfer the cost of salary and stipend to the Supplement grant if you had arranged to have those costs posted elsewhere between April 1st and June 30th.
Must I use the Supplement funds to pay only those individuals who continued to be paid by my Tri-Agency grant between April 1st and June 30th?
While you can certainly use the Supplement funds to pay those trainees and/or research support personnel funded by your Tri-Agency grant on or after April 1st, 2020 you have flexibility to use these funds to pay other trainees or research support personnel who are working on your research funded by the Tri-Agency grant until the end-date noted on your Supplement Fund.
In either case, those being paid by the Supplement grant must ensure they are not or were not simultaneously receiving other federal supports such as CERB, CESB, or other federal COVID-19 income supports including Tri-agency scholarships and fellowships and complete the Attestation form.
Why can the Supplement funds only be used for salaries and stipends?
The federal government provided additional funds to CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC out of recognition that many grant holders continued to pay salaries and stipends during the early days of the pandemic while research was interrupted and therefore has provided these funds to help offset the cost of salaries and stipends paid between April 1st and June 30th, 2020.
What does ‘interrupted’ mean?
Your research was interrupted if research activity slowed down, paused, changed, or could not proceed due to any COVID-19 related reason.
What grants were eligible for the Supplement?
Please see the following for a list of grants that were eligible and receive an offer for the Supplement.
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