FAQ: Changes due to COVID-19

Information about applying to and managing CFI awards during the COVID-19 pandemic

CFI OPERATIONS

Is the CFI office still open? Are staff working?
While our headquarters in Ottawa is closed until further notice to comply with public health recommendations, CFI staff are working remotely. All staff remain connected through email and phone.

You can also direct general queries to feedback [at] innovation.ca or 613.947.6496. We will hold all currently scheduled in-person meetings by video- or teleconference. As we adjust to these new circumstances, please bear with us as we may be delayed in responding to your queries.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRING SIGNATURES

Will the CFI accept alternatives to wet signatures for documents such as the award finalization form, the institutional agreement and award agreements?

We will continue to accept email approval of institutional agreements.

We recently implemented a digital signature process for award agreements using DocuSign. Wet signatures are no longer required.

We also no longer require signatures on the award finalization form; electronic submission in CAMS is sufficient.

AWARD FINALIZATIONS

Is the CFI still processing award finalizations?
Yes. Institutions should submit award finalization forms in CAMS in order to initiate the award finalization process.

Has CFI extended the deadline for submitting award finalization documents?

Answer updated on March 4, 2021

Yes, we have extended the deadline for submitting award finalization document by three months for awards approved by the CFI Board of Directors before March 1, 2021. This means that for awards approved before that date institutions will have 12 months to submit their award finalization documents rather than the usual nine months. For awards approved after March 1, 2021, institutions are expected to submit their award finalization documents within nine months of award approval, as usual. Please contact your CFI Senior Programs Officer if you will be unable to finalize your awards within these timelines.

Are hard copy award agreements still being mailed to institutions?
No. We have recently transitioned to a digital signature process (using DocuSign) for award agreements. Once all parties have signed, institutions will receive the final award agreement by email. We will also upload it into the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS), where institutions can access it.

PAYMENTS TO INSTITUTIONS

Will the CFI continue to issue payments to the institutions?
Yes.

FINANCIAL REPORTING

Is the CFI extending financial reporting deadlines?

Answer updated on March 4, 2021

Although we extended the reporting deadlines last year, we will not automatically grant extensions this year.

  • Interim financial reports are due June 15, 2021.
  • Infrastructure Operating Fund annual reports are due June 15, 2021.
  • Final financial reports are due within six months of the project’s actual end date. The exception to this is projects with an actual end date no later than March 31, 2021. Since those were granted a three-month extension, their final financial reports are due within nine months of the project’s actual end date.

PROJECT PROGRESS REPORTING

Is the CFI extending project progress reporting deadlines?

Answer updated on March 4, 2021

Although we extended the reporting deadlines last year, we will not automatically grant extensions this year. The reporting deadline is June 30, 2021.

ELIGIBLE EXPENSES

Some Q&As last updated on April 27, 2020

Our institution has space that is required to house and use CFI-funded infrastructure. We normally claim the costs for services (e.g. electricity, heating, water, sewer, security, cleaning) for this space through the Infrastructure Operating Fund or the MSI Fund. Since campus is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can we still claim costs for services as an expense for those funds?

Yes. Services such as electricity, heating, water, sewer, security and cleaning that directly support the space required to house and use CFI-funded infrastructure are deemed critical to ensure a research-ready state of the CFI-funded infrastructure. As such, they can still be claimed under the Infrastructure Operating Fund or the MSI Fund even if the campus is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our institution employs highly qualified personnel (technicians or professionals) to operate and maintain CFI-funded infrastructure. In many cases, their salary is supported through the Infrastructure Operating Fund or the MSI Fund. Since campus is closed, can we still claim their salary as an expense from those funds?

Yes. The highly qualified personnel directly involved in the operation and maintenance of the CFI-funded infrastructure are considered critical for the current and future activities of labs and facilities. Institutions can continue to claim their salaries as expenses from the Infrastructure Operating Fund or MSI Fund, retroactive to April 1, 2020.

Restarting Canada’s capacity to conduct science is a priority and these highly qualified personnel will play an essential role in ramping up research infrastructure to resume research activities quickly once campuses reopen.

If the personnel directly involved in the design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, construction or renovation of the infrastructure can only conduct their work from campus, and campus is closed, can we still claim their salary as an expense as part of a CFI-funded infrastructure project?

No.  The salaries of professional, technical and managerial personnel, consultants and contractors directly involved in the design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, construction or renovation of the infrastructure cannot be claimed if they are unable to perform the work.

Will the CFI cover costs for travel associated with CFI-funded projects that had to be cancelled due to the pandemic?
In this specific situation, the CFI will absorb these unforeseen costs and will expect institutions to report them in their financial reports. This applies to travel to a manufacturer, dealer or supplier intended for selecting research infrastructure or associated with operation activities for facilities funded through the Major Science Initiatives Fund.

PROJECT END DATES

Is the CFI granting automatic extensions to project end dates?

Answer updated on December 15, 2020

Yes. In April 2020 we granted institutions an automatic six-month extension for project end dates to accommodate delays in project delivery and operationalization of infrastructure. This automatic extension applied to projects that had an approved end date of no later than March 31, 2021. It was applied retroactively to projects with end dates on or after December 1, 2019.

As we enter the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic we realize that institutions may need another extension to the end date of some CFI-funded projects that were delayed due to COVID-19. If your institution needs an extension for CFI-funded projects that meet the following criteria, please let your Senior Programs Officer know by email:

  • The delay will not have a negative impact on the project
  • The current end date is between December 1, 2019 and September 30, 2021
  • The project was not funded through our Exceptional Opportunities Fund – COVID-19 competitions.

In most cases, we will automatically grant a six-month extension — an explanation is not required. We will update the CFI Awards Management System to reflect the new end date. Some older projects may be excluded from the automatic extension. Your Senior Programs Officer will notify you if this is the case.

As usual, an amendment request submitted through CAMS is required for any projects for which there will be a negative impact or significant changes to the infrastructure.