Tri-agency policy on the use of funds for federal government employees applying to granting agency programs

Collaboration between Canada’s research funding agencies, the public sector and the academic sector is important for strengthening our efforts and reinforcing the Canadian research ecosystem. In defining these collaborations, the Government of Canada (GoC) must consider carefully the many ways in which it supports research, including the associated principles and guidelines, so as to maximize the benefit to Canadians.

The Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments (PTP) indicates that transfer payments targeted to other orders of government, individuals, not-for-profit organizations, international organizations, Indigenous peoples and the private sector may not be used to fund GoC operations. Given that research grants are a type of transfer payment, special attention must be given when research grants are awarded to eligible applicants who are employed by the federal government. Accordingly, 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 of Canada (SSHRC) have harmonized their policy to align more clearly with the Treasury Board PTP with regard to the eligibility and funding of research projects or programs submitted by applicants who are formally affiliated with a Canadian postsecondary institution, but who are employed by the federal government. The harmonized policy position stipulates that:

  1. if the proposed research falls outside the federal employer’s mandate and will not be performed using federal facilities or resources, it will then be deemed eligible
  2. if the proposed research falls within the federal employer’s mandate and is performed using federal facilities or resources, it will then be assessed by the agencies and funding may be allocated for support of students only (salaries or stipends and travel costs)

This harmonized policy aligns with the PTP but provides flexibility for federal employees to engage with the academic sector through the supervision and training of students.

Each agency will implement this policy in their own programs, funding opportunities and competitions. Further information will be posted to the respective agencies’ websites as it becomes available.