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Increased support for students, trainees and research support personnel funded through NSERC research grants

Program news Professors Students

June 30, 2020

Canada’s three federal research granting agencies—the 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)—recognize the vital role that highly qualified talent plays in the research enterprise and the need to sustain the talent pipeline during the major disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To lessen the impact due to COVID-19 on students, trainees and research support personnel funded through research grants, NSERC will provide additional funding to eligible grant recipients. This additional funding to support trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel paid through grants recognizes the need to continue supporting their salaries and stipends. This represents an additional investment through NSERC of up to $140 million by the Government of Canada to address income challenges related to delays in research created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This additional funding will play a critical role in ensuring continuity in research projects and programs.

All three agencies will provide additional funding to research grant holders so that they can continue to support trainees and research support personnel during the crisis. Grant holders will be contacted in the coming weeks by each agency. The funding will be provided before September 30, 2020. The value of the supplement will be commensurate with the average level of support provided to trainees and research support personnel for each agency over a three-month period. Institutions are strongly encouraged to continue to pay trainees and research support personnel paid from these grants during the crisis.

Grant holders will be required to attest that there were indeed interruptions to the work of trainees and research support personnel caused by COVID-19, and that the additional funding will be used to support them. Additionally, the trainees and research support personnel supported by the supplement will need to ensure they are not benefiting from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. They also cannot be benefitting from other income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships.

Grant holders who did not pay salaries or stipends from a grant will not be eligible for the supplement. Eligible grants are those that were active on April 1, 2020 and that were not already in a time extension period.

Please see the accompanying frequently asked questions, which provides details on how this additional funding will be implemented, and check our websites (CIHR , NSERC, SSHRC) and social media feeds for updates. For more information please contact supplements@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

This additional funding applies to the following NSERC programs:

University programs

  • Advancing Climate Change Science in Canada
  • Alliance grants
  • Belmont Forum
  • Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
  • Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (project component)
  • Chairs in Design and Engineering (research component)
  • Collaborative and Thematic Resources Support in Mathematics and Statistics program
  • Collaborative Health Research Projects
  • Collaborative Research and Training Experience program
  • Collaborative Research and Development grants (including DND/NSERC Research Partnership grants)
  • Discovery Frontiers
  • Discovery Grants program
  • Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (individual, project and major resources)
  • Discovery Grants – Discovery Development Grants
  • Engage and Engage Plus grants
  • Idea to Innovation grants
  • Industrial Research Chairs (research project)
  • Strategic Partnerships Grants – Projects and Networks
  • Whale Science for Tomorrow

College and Community Innovation program

  • Applied Research and Development grants (level 2 and 3)
  • College & Community Social Innovation Fund grants
  • Engage and Engage Plus grants for colleges
  • Industrial Research Chairs for colleges
  • Innovation Enhancement grants (all durations)
  • Innovation Links grants
  • Technology Access Centres grants

Networks of Centres of Excellence

  • Networks of Centres of Excellence
  • Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence

Frequently asked questions

Three-month supplement for the support of trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel

On this page

  1. What is the supplement for?
  2. What funding opportunities does this apply to?
  3. How do I apply for the supplement?
  4. What is the value of the supplement?
  5. How and when will I receive this funding?
  6. Do I have to take this additional funding? Under what conditions could I decline the supplement?
  7. I have multiple grants. Will I receive the supplement for each one?
  8. What can the funding be used for?
  9. Is the funding just for students?
  10. Can the supplement be combined with the Canada Student Emergency Grant or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or other income supports?
  11. Where can I get more information?
  12. I have accepted/declined the supplement, what are the next steps for me?
  13. Will I be receiving a confirmation that I have accepted the supplement?
  14. The link to the form where I am supposed to accept or decline my supplemental funding says it is no longer valid; how should I proceed?
  15. My colleagues have all received their emails regarding their supplemental funding, but I have yet to receive one. Does that mean my project or program is not eligible for the funding?
  16. I’m not sure whether I am eligible to accept my supplemental funding. What does a “disruption” consist of?
  17. Can I accept only a partial amount of the funding?
  18. I received an email regarding supplemental funding for one grant but not for another. Does that mean my other grant isn’t eligible to receive the funding?
  19. I declined my response in error. I now realize that I am eligible for these funds and would like to change my response to accept the supplemental funding. How can this be done?
  20. Why are grants in an extension period not considered eligible to receive the supplement?
  21. As a co-investigator, will I receive funds?
  22. Can I only use the supplement to cover salary and stipend expenditures from April 1 to June 30?
  23. I paid trainees/research personnel during COVID-19-related disruption, but out of an account other than the agency grant for which I have been offered the supplement (e.g., from start up or other institutional funds).  Can I re-assign the stipend/salary expenditure to the supplement funds?
  24. What is the agencies’ expectation for how the institution/grant recipient meet the requirement: “ trainees and research support personnel supported by the supplement will need to ensure they did not benefit from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) between April 1 and June 30, 2020. They also cannot have benefited from other Government of Canada income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships during this same period.”

1. What is the supplement for?

The agencies will provide additional funding to eligible grant recipients to support trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel whose salaries have been paid by research grants, and whose work has been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the three-month period from April 1 to June 30, 2020.

This additional funding is being provided to support the salaries and stipends of trainees and research support personnel during the research work interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. What funding opportunities does this apply to?

The additional funding applies to funding opportunities that support trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel. The full list is available on NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC websites. 

3. How do I apply for the supplement?

Eligible grantees (and their institutions) will be contacted directly. You will be required to attest that the work of trainees and research support personnel was interrupted due to COVID-19 during the period from April 1 to June 30, 2020.

Additionally, the trainees and research support personnel supported by the supplement will need to ensure they are not benefiting from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. They also cannot be benefitting from other income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships.

4. What is the value of the supplement?

The value of the supplement will be commensurate with the average level of support provided to trainees and research support personnel for each agency over a three-month period.

5. How and when will I receive this funding?

More details will be provided in the coming weeks and the additional funding will be distributed before September 30, 2020.

6. Do I have to take this additional funding? Under what conditions could I decline the supplement?

No. The Tri-agency will contact eligible recipients. You will be required to attest that the work of trainees and research support personnel supported by your grant was interrupted due to COVID-19 constraints.  If their work was not disrupted or you do not have a need for the supplement, you would indicate this at that time.

7. I have multiple grants. Will I receive the supplement for each one?

Yes, you will receive the supplement for each eligible grant.

8. What can the funding be used for?

The supplement is to provide salary support for existing trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel involved in research supported by eligible grants.

9. Is the funding just for students?

No, the supplement can also be used to provide support for postdoctoral fellows and research support personnel involved in research supported by eligible grants.

10. Can the supplement be combined with the Canada Student Emergency Grant or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or other income supports?

No. The trainees and research support personnel supported by the supplement will need to ensure they are not benefiting from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. They also cannot be benefitting from other income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships.

11. Where can I get more information?

As mechanisms to deliver this support are developed, additional details will be communicated to grantees and institutions. Please continue to visit this FAQ webpage, which will be updated regularly.

12. I have accepted/declined the supplement, what are the next steps for me?

After submitting your decision regarding your acceptance or decline of the supplemental funding, no further action is required at this time. Further instructions will be provided in the near future. All of the supplemental funding payments will be provided to grant holders before September 30, 2020.

13. Will I be receiving a confirmation that I have accepted the supplement?

You would have received a system-generated email indicating that your response was received. If you accepted the supplement, you will receive a formal notification of the supplement along with its amount in the coming weeks.

14. The link to the form where I am supposed to accept or decline my supplemental funding says it is no longer valid; how should I proceed?

This message means that either your response was already received, or the deadline for responding of August 13 has passed. If this is the case, or if you wish to change your response, please contact NSERC’s supplements team at supplements@NSERC-CRSNG.gc.ca, and request that the original email to be resent to you.

15. My colleagues have all received their emails regarding their supplemental funding, but I have yet to receive one. Does that mean my project or program is not eligible for the funding?

Eligible grant holders were pre-contacted directly via email on July 15, 2020 to advise them that they would receive further communications on accepting or declining the supplement for each eligible grant that they hold. Research grant offices have also been made aware of which grants will be considered for the supplement. The supplement applies to funding opportunities that primarily support trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows), and research support personnel. The full list is available on NSERC’s website.

16. I’m not sure whether I am eligible to accept my supplemental funding. What does a “disruption” consist of?

Examples of research disruptions include instances where research efforts had to be delayed or stopped  temporarily while other offsite arrangements could be made to work remotely, or that access to your institution was not permitted for a period of time. It could also mean that a laboratory or research centre was no longer open, that equipment couldn’t be accessed, or that a member of your research team was unable to conduct research for a variety of reasons, but that you continued to pay them during the period of disruption.

17. Can I accept only a partial amount of the funding?

No. The value of the supplement for each eligible grant is based on what is typically spent on trainees and research support personnel (64% in NSERC’s case). This estimate was used to ensure the rapid delivery of the supplemental funding. Those that do not require the entire amount of the supplemental funding will be required to return unused funds to NSERC.  

18. I received an email regarding supplemental funding for one grant but not for another. Does that mean my other grant isn’t eligible to receive the funding?

Invitations to accept or decline the supplement were sent over the course of several days, so it is possible that two invitations for the same grant holder were not sent out on the same day. Please check your inbox, as all invitations have now been distributed. Please also note that research grant offices have also been made aware of which grants will be considered for the supplement.

19. I declined my response in error. I now realize that I am eligible for these funds and would like to change my response to accept the supplemental funding. How can this be done?

If you’ve entered the wrong response accidentally or feel you have responded prematurely, your response can be changed. In order to do so, contact NSERC’s supplements team at supplements@NSERC-CRSNG.gc.ca.

20. Why are grants in an extension period not considered eligible to receive the supplement?

We realize that the impacts of COVID-19 are broad, and that no one initiative will address them all; however NSERC is committed to taking a flexible approach and continuing to monitor opportunities to support the research community over time.

21. As a co-investigator, will I receive funds?

The supplement will be administered in the same manner as the grant to which it is associated. For most grants, this means that the host institution of the principal investigator will transfer any supplemental funding to your institution for the grant on which you are a co-investigator. You may wish to contact the principal investigator to discuss the supplemental funding.

22. Can I only use the supplement to cover salary and stipend expenditures from April 1 to June 30?

The supplement is being provided in recognition that colleges and universities continued to pay the salaries and stipends of trainees (students and postdoctoral fellows) and research support personnel, through agency grants, even though the associated research was interrupted due to COVID-19.

The period of interruption being considered was from April 1 to June 30 to establish which grants would be eligible for the supplement and the corresponding value. However, the supplement can be used to support the salaries and stipends of trainees and research support personnel for the same grant, who are not already benefiting from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or from other income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships, up to December 31, 2020.

23. I paid trainees/research personnel during COVID-19-related disruption, but out of an account other than the agency grant for which I have been offered the supplement (e.g., from start up or other institutional funds).  Can I re-assign the stipend/salary expenditure to the supplement funds?

It is acceptable to use the supplement funds retroactively against expenditures that were previously charged to a different grant/account, provided the expenditure would have been eligible for the associated grant under the relevant financial administration guide/funding agreement, and the other eligibility conditions for the supplement expenditures are met.

24. What is the agencies’ expectation for how the institution/grant recipient meet the requirement: “ trainees and research support personnel supported by the supplement will need to ensure they did not benefit from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) between April 1 and June 30, 2020. They also cannot have benefited from other Government of Canada income supports related to COVID-19, including the extensions of tri-agency scholarships and fellowships during this same period.”

The agencies are not prescribing a specific approach to this. Institutions are asked to develop an approach that is appropriate within the context of their administrative processes, which they may be asked to share with the agencies (and possibly provide sample transactions) in the future.  In requesting this information, the agencies will be seeking to ensure that institutions and grantees exercised reasonable due diligence with respect to this requirement. As an example of an approach that would be acceptable: the grantee could ask the payee to confirm by email that they are not being paid from the agency grant while simultaneously benefitting from other federal COVID-19 income supports (including but not limited to CERB, CESB and the extensions of tri-agency grants and scholarships).  The grantee could then either keep this confirmation in their own files or provide it to the finance/research office for future reference on the grant file, depending on the process set out by the institution.  The agencies confirm that having such an attestation from the payee would be a reasonable basis on which the grantee might authorize the salary/stipend expenditure. 

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