Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Administrative Matters

Ownership of Items Purchased With Grant Funds

All items purchased with grant funds belong to the institution and not to the individual grantee, unless the funding Agency agrees otherwise in writing, or unless doing so would be contrary to a legislated requirement. As owner, the institution is responsible for ensuring that the items are used to support the research program of the grantee and co-grantees. Decisions on the use and management of the items should be made between the institution and the grantee or user group.

For the institution’s responsibilities with respect to equipment and facilities, consult Section 3.8: Ownership of Equipment and Facilities of the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.

Relocation of a Grantee to an Eligible Canadian Institution

When a grantee moves from one eligible Canadian institution to another, the Agencies will consider a request to transfer a research grant(s) held by the grantee provided that the grantee has obtained an eligible position at the new institution. Should the request be approved, the research grant(s) held at the former institution will be transferred to the new institution and consequently all corresponding grant account(s) will be closed at the former institution.

Information pertaining to the documents to be submitted can be found on the Checklist for the Relocation of a Grantee to an Eligible Canadian Institution.

Moving Equipment or an Unexpended Equipment Grant

All equipment purchased with grant funds belongs to the institution and not to the individual grantee, unless the funding Agency agrees otherwise in writing, or unless doing so would be contrary to a legislated requirement. If a grantee is moving to another Canadian institution and wishes to take an unexpended Equipment Grant (known as a Research Tools and Instruments Grant at NSERC), or to move equipment purchased with grant funds, the former institution may, in its discretion, give permission for such a move. The Agencies encourage the institution to accede to such a request, provided the equipment is not necessary to other researchers at the former institution.

In the event that an institution gives permission to transfer or loan equipment or funds for equipment or facilities to another eligible institution, the primary institution retains ownership of the equipment or facilities. A letter of agreement should confirm ownership of the equipment/facilities and the associated responsibilities, how the equipment/facilities will be used and what access researchers from each institution will have. For the institution’s responsibilities with respect to the transfer of funds from a primary institution to a secondary institution, consult the section Transfer of Funds between Institutions, below.

An institution may transfer ownership of equipment or facilities to another eligible institution through a gift or sale. A letter of agreement from the other institution agreeing to abide by the terms under which the funds for the equipment or facilities were granted should be in place before the transfer takes place. Proceeds from any sale of equipment purchased, or facilities established, with funds granted by the Agency should be used for research-related purposes.

For the roles and responsibilities of the institution with regards to the transfer of equipment, consult Section 3.8: Ownership of Equipment and Facilities of the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.

Deferral of Instalment/Annual Commitment Payments

Government policy states that Agencies cannot pay instalments/annual commitments in advance of need; they can provide funds only to correspond with the cash flow requirements of the research project. If the grantee has a build-up of funds in a research account due to a slowdown or delay in the research (for example, extended leaves [sick/maternity/parental leave], difficulty in hiring staff) and believes that the scheduled instalment/annual commitment for the next financial year will not be needed at that time, the grantee should request a deferral of the next instalment/annual commitment from the Agency.

Deferring an instalment/annual commitment extends the life of the grant, allows the grantee to re-organize activities and postpones the renewal/re-application date by one or two years. The total of all deferral periods cannot exceed two years. The original grant end date will be adjusted accordingly.

CIHR will also allow deferment of the start date of a grant for up to one year from the start date indicated in the description of the funding opportunity, if the grantee has not resolved pending issues with the application prior to that date. To request a deferral of an annual commitment, the grantee must submit a written request to This link will take you to another Web site CIHR for consideration.

Deferring instalments/annual commitments does not adversely affect the review of the grantee's next application, but rather demonstrates good fiscal management of grant funds and provides the opportunity for the Agencies to fund other researchers who might otherwise not have been awarded funding.

The Agencies may defer, or even hold back, a grantee’s next instalment/annual commitment if, in the sole discretion of the agency involved, it is judged that the grantee’s build-up of funds has not been properly justified and that the need for funds has not been demonstrated or the issues identified during tenure.

For more information about deferrals, hold-backs and deferral of the start date (CIHR), contact the Awards Administration section at NSERC, SSHRC or This link will take you to another Web site CIHR.

Termination of a Grant

The Agencies will terminate a grant when the grantee no longer holds an eligible position at an eligible institution. However, the agency may approve the transfer of the grant to an eligible co-grantee or another eligible individual as suggested by the institution.

The Agencies may terminate a grant when program requirements are not met (e.g., unsatisfactory progress, discontinuation of the partner’s contributions) or when a grantee is unable to carry out the research or research related activities for which the grant was awarded. The date of the termination will be determined by the Agencies.

Information pertaining to the documents to be submitted can be found on the Checklist for Termination of a Grant.

SSHRC only

If the grantee moves to another country before completing the research or related initiative for which the institution has received SSHRC funding, any individual grant that the grantee holds will be continued on condition that the grantee maintains an affiliation with the eligible Canadian institution, where the research funds will continue to be administered during the remainder of the grant period. If the grantee is unable to make such arrangements, the grant will be terminated.

Maternity, Parental, Medical or Family Medical Leave for Grantees

Information pertaining to the documents to be submitted can be found on the Checklist for Maternity, Parental, Medical or Family Medical Leave for Grantees.

The general institutional policies relating to maternity, parental, medical or family medical leave apply.

The Agencies recognize that extended leave granted to the grantee by the institution may have an impact on an individual's research program, and offer the following options:

  • When an extended leave of absence has been taken by the grantee, he/she may request:
    • an extension of the term of the current grant up to one year (CIHR) and up to two years (NSERC and SSHRC), provided that there is only one grantee (e.g., the Nominated Principal Applicant and no Principal Applicants) on the grant (CIHR only);
    • an amount to cover eligible expenses during the extended leave of absence for up to one year (CIHR) and up to two years (NSERC), at a level up to but not exceeding the current amount, provided that there is only one grantee (e.g., the Nominated Principal Applicant and no Principal Applicants) on the grant (CIHR only).
  • The grantee may defer submission of a renewal application.
  • The grantee may compete for a grant in the usual way.

CIHR only

Requests for funds are subject to the availability of CIHR and partner funds, if applicable and CIHR approval.

Paid Maternity and Parental Leave for Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

NSERC and CIHR only

The Agencies will provide parental leave supplements paid out of grants within six months following the child's birth or adoption to eligible students and postdoctoral fellows who are paid out of agency grants and who are primary caregivers for a child.

The supplement will be paid to students and fellows as per their current salary/stipend for up to four months (NSERC) or six months (CIHR). If both parents are supported by grant funds, each parent may take a portion of the leave for a combined maximum of four months (NSERC) or six months (CIHR). The supplement will be pro-rated if the student or postdoctoral fellow is being trained in research on a part-time basis. Students or fellows who are eligible for employment insurance or other parental leave supplements from other sources do not qualify for parental leave supplements.

Information pertaining to the documents to be submitted can be found on the Checklist for Maternity and/or Parental Leave Paid from Grants to Students and Postdoctoral Fellows.

CIHR only

Requests for funds are subject to the availability of CIHR and partner funds, if applicable, and CIHR approval.

SSHRC only

Parental leave supplements are not an eligible budget item for SSHRC grants.

Sabbatical/Research Leave

Information pertaining to the documents to be submitted can be found on the Checklist for Sabbatical/Research Leave for Grantees.

NSERC and CIHR only

Grantees may be away on sabbatical leave for a period not exceeding one year without informing the agency. The grantee and/or the institution must inform the Agency when a grantee is away on sabbatical leave for more than one year. Grantees will continue to receive instalments/annual commitments during the period of sabbatical leave. No additional funds will be given to cover the period of sabbatical leave.

CIHR only

Grantees who are on a leave period of more than one year must spend a minimum of six months per year at an eligible Canadian institution to continue to be eligible to hold and receive funding from the grant. Grantees who do not spend the six months per year at the eligible Canadian institution are no longer eligible to hold and receive funding (see the Checklist for the Termination of a Grant).

NSERC only

Grantees who are on a sabbatical/research leave (paid or unpaid) of more than one year are no longer eligible to hold and receive funding from a grant, and their grant will be terminated. Note: There must be at least one year between two sabbatical/research leaves for a grant to continue.

SSHRC only

SSHRC does not require that grantees give notice that they are taking a sabbatical/research leave. The grantee may continue to hold and receive funds from the grant during such leaves, if he or she maintains an affiliation with an eligible Canadian institution, where the research funds will continue to be administered during the entire period of the leave.

Transfer of Funds Between Institutions

A transfer of funds normally occurs when a Primary Institution in direct receipt of Agency funds transfers, upon the authorization of the grantee, some or all of those funds to a Secondary Institution in order to facilitate research collaboration between the grantee and the co-grantee at the Secondary Institution. In the case of CIHR, funds may be transferred to facilitate research collaboration between the grantee and collaborators, research personnel and co-principal investigators at the Secondary Institution.

Research funds can be transferred under two different scenarios. The first scenario deals with the transfer from an Eligible Primary Institution to an Eligible Secondary Institution. The second scenario deals with the transfer from an Eligible Primary Institution to a Non-eligible Secondary Institution (CIHR and SSHRC only). Grant transfers include transfers of both funds and responsibilities. Invoices, contracts or accountable advances are not considered to be grant transfers.

To be eligible, an institution must have met Agency requirements for eligibility to receive funding and must have signed the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions

An Eligible Primary Institution is one that is in direct receipt of grant funds. A Secondary Institution is one to which funds are to be transferred, and may be either an Eligible Institution or a Non-eligible Institution.

NSERC and SSHRC do not allow transfers to collaborators. CIHR does allow such transfers, and defines collaborator as an individual whose role is to provide a special service (such as access to equipment, provision of specific reagents, training in a specialized technique, statistical analysis, access to a patient population, etc.) to the research project or program of research and who may be reimbursed from the grant for actual costs incurred in providing the service.

In the case of a transfer to an Eligible Secondary Institution, the latter assumes the responsibilities of the Primary Institution in respect of the grant or award funds to be transferred. A Primary Institution that transfers funds to a Non-eligible Secondary Institution retains all responsibilities and accountabilities for the funds. The Primary Institution must also review and consolidate the Form 300 and ensure that a letter of agreement with the Secondary Institution is in place before transferring funds.

Transfer of Funds From a Primary Institution to an Eligible Secondary Institution

At the request of the grantee, the Primary Institution wishing to transfers funds to an Eligible Secondary Institution must obtain a letter of transfer of funds signed by the Secondary Institution in which both parties agree to comply with certain obligations. Information pertaining to the letter of transfer of funds and requirements to be addressed can be found on the Checklist for the Transfer of Funds from a Primary Institution to an Eligible Secondary Institution.

Transfer of Funds From a Primary Institution to a Non-eligible Secondary Institution (CIHR and SSHRC)

An increasing number of grantees are conducting research with researchers, students, and/or research personnel affiliated with Non-eligible Secondary Institutions. This transfer type (CIHR and SSHRC), recognizes the legitimacy of transferring funds from Primary Institutions to Non-eligible Secondary Institutions, provided that all such transfers are conducted responsibly and follow good financial management practices, the minimum standards for which are set out in this policy. 

The Primary Institution has principal responsibility for the use and monitoring of funds that are transferred to a Non-eligible Secondary Institution. However, this responsibility is to be shared between the Primary Institution and the Non-eligible Secondary Institution under the provisions of a letter of transfer of funds agreement.

The Primary Institution wishing to transfers funds to any Non-eligible Secondary Institution must obtain a letter of transfer of funds signed by the Non-eligible Secondary Institution, in which both parties agree to comply with certain obligations. Information pertaining to the letter of transfer of funds agreement can be found on the Checklist for the Transfer of Funds from a Primary Institution to a Non-eligible Secondary Institution (CIHR and SSHRC).

Residual Balances

All grants paid are deemed to have a primary holder, namely the grantee whose name appears on the award notice.

All grants that have not been renewed or extended, or that have been terminated, or project grants that have been completed, may contain residual balances of funds allocated in prior years and/or issued in the current fiscal year. This would also include grants for equipment or for the establishment of facilities that may contain residual balances. The Agencies will adjust their next payment to the institution or request a reimbursement in the case when no future payments are scheduled for any current-year funds not required for the purpose for which they were granted.

NSERC and SSHRC only

The Agencies will allow residual funds from prior years to be retained by the institution under certain conditions determined by their Finance and Awards Administration Division. These funds will be transferred to a General Research Fund (GRF). The Agencies will also allow proceeds from any sale of equipment purchased, or facilities established, with funds granted by the Agency, to be transferred to the General Research Funds. The Agencies expect that the institution’s president will use these funds for the broad purpose of enhancing the quality of research in the natural sciences and engineering, or in the social sciences and humanities, as applicable. Funds from the General Research Fund may be used to provide small start-up grants to new professors, bridge funding to professors who are between applications, additional funds to professors in support of their research, etc. Funds must be spent in a timely manner.

CIHR only

Any funds remaining at the end of the Authority to Use Funds period must be returned to the agency. When unspent funds are returned to the agency, the cheque must be accompanied by a signed Form 300, indicating an unspent balance in the same amount as the refund.

CIHR does not allow for the transferring of residual funds (unspent balances in grant accounts) between affiliated institutions during the "Authority to Use Funds" extension period. For further information regarding the transfer of grants to eligible Canadian institutions or organizations, refer to the Relocation of a Grantee to an Eligible Canadian Institution subsection of this guide.

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