Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Action at CIHR

CIHR’s Equity Strategy

CIHR’s Equity Strategy was first released in Fall of 2016 to help identify and address potential inequities in CIHR’s funding system. Since this time, CIHR has implemented a range of strategies and solutions to foster equity, diversity and inclusion in the research system; however, there is more work to be done. To ensure that our efforts remain evidence-based and relevant, we will be updating our Equity Strategy to appropriately align with the Tri-Agency Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan and CIHR’s updated Strategic Plan (to be launched in June 2020).

Key Actions Taken to Enhance EDI in CIHR’s Funding System

Issue CIHR Action

Emerging evidence of the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the research community, and the potential for exacerbating inequities.

Implement solutions to mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the research community.

Progress Update
  • 2020: Adjusted timelines of the Round 2 COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity to mitigate barriers for researchers experiencing increased care-giving responsibilities, and other impacts: 
    • Increased the application intake window to provide more time for preparing an application.
    • Extended the peer review deadline to allow more time to complete reviews.
  • 2020: Equalized funding under the COVID-19 May 2020 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity to ensure that
    • Indigenous Health Research applications funded made up a minimum of 4.6% of the total competition budget (proportional to Canada’s Indigenous population).
    • French applications funded were approximately equal to the proportion of grants submitted.
  • 2020: Encouraged applicants to CIHR COVID-19 funding opportunities to consider inclusion of groups underrepresented in science, and a diversity of experiences on research teams.
  • 2020: Extended Tri-Agency Scholarships and Fellowships for eligible students and postdoctoral researchers for an additional four months. This represents an investment of up to $40 million to help students and postdoctoral researchers complete their research projects and training.
  • 2020: Increased support for students, trainees, and research support personnel funded through CIHR research grants. This represents an additional investment by the Government of Canada through CIHR of up to $79.3 million to address income challenges related to delays in research created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gender inequities exist in competition success rates of certain CIHR and Tri-Agency funding programs. In particular, inequities exist in funding programs that include an assessment of the applicant, in addition to assessment of the research.

Implement solutions to mitigate unconscious bias in the adjudication process of CIHR funding programs.

Progress Update

Early career researchers (ECRs) have lower success rates in certain funding programs.

Implement solutions to mitigate challenges experienced by ECRs.

Progress Update
  • 2020: Extended ECR status by one year for those who held ECR status as of March 1 2020 or who secured their first academic appointment after this date to account for disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 2020: Doubled leave credits for ECRs applying to the Project Grant competition.
  • 2016: Implemented corrective measures in the Project Grant program, when necessary, to ensure the proportion of ECRs funded is equal to the proportion of ECRs applying.

Students and post-doctoral fellows supported through CIHR awards do not have access to parental leave benefits through Employment Insurance, which hinders the ability to sustain research training.

Improve access to paid parental leave for students and post-doctoral fellows supported through awards.

Progress Update
  • 2016/2017: Launched a harmonized 6-month Paid Parental Leave (PPL) policy allowing students and postdoctoral fellows to take paid leave following a child’s birth or adoption. With this policy, award holders are no longer required to provide proof that they are not eligible for other parental leave benefits. The new policy also extends leave coverage to trainees and postdoctoral fellow indirectly funded from research grants (previous policy only included recipients of CIHR and Tri-Agency awards).
  • 2019: Extended paid parental leave allowances for students and postdocs from 6 to 12 months.

Researchers or trainees who take leaves of absence for medical or care-giving reasons disrupt their research productivity, which may negatively impact how they are evaluated by selection committees.

Implement solutions to mitigate biases experienced by researchers or trainees who take leaves of absence.

Progress Update
  • 2000: Began taking leaves of absence into consideration in the calculation of eligibility of an Early Career Researcher.  
  • 2016: Revised Project Grant competition to enable all applicants who have taken a leave of absence within the past 7 years to include supplemental publication information as a separate attachment (with the supplement covering time equivalent to the period of leave). The Canadian Common CV only includes publications from the last seven years, thus researchers who took leaves of absence during this time were previously disadvantaged.
  • 2017: Included instructions in selection committee guides for the Vanier Graduate Scholarship and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships programs for consideration of circumstances that may have affected research achievement, such as career interruptions and interpersonal and career responsibilities.

Systemic changes are needed to mitigate barriers faced by underrepresented groups – including women, Francophone researchers, Indigenous Peoples and organizations, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities - in CIHR’s funding system.

Implement strategies to mitigate barriers and support participation of underrepresented groups in CIHR’s funding system.

Progress Update

Francophone researchers:

  • 2016: Launched a CIHR  Action Plan on Official Languages. The Plan includes measures to ensure that health researchers from both linguistic groups have equitable access to CIHR programs and services, including the need to consider official languages and official language minority communities (OLMCs) in the peer review process.
  • 2019: Increased the Project Grant competition application page limit for research proposals submitted in French, based on evidence that documents written in French require approximately 20% more space than those written in English. French research proposals therefore have a limit of 12 pages for Project Grants (compared to the 10-page limit for English proposals).

Indigenous Peoples and organizations:

  • 2016: Launched a CIHR Action Plan: Building a healthier future for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The action plan includes measures to reduce barriers to CIHR funding for Indigenous researchers including:
    • An iterative peer review process for Indigenous-focused research applications;
    • A strategy to strengthen capacity through training and mentoring; and
    • A commitment to increase investments in Indigenous health research to a minimum of 4.6% (proportional to Canada’s Indigenous population) of CIHR’s annual budget.
  • 2018: Launched the Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) initiative – a $100.8M, 16-year capacity-building investment. The funded network will provide supportive research environments for Indigenous health research driven by and grounded in Indigenous communities.

General:

Lack of data for tracking and monitoring equity and diversity in CIHR’s funding system.

Implement tools to collect and monitor data on the participation of individuals from underrepresented groups in CIHR’s funding system.

Progress Update
  • 2018: Launched, in collaboration with NSERC and SSHRC, the Tri-Agency Self-Identification Questionnaire. Applicants to all funding programs must now respond to questions on their age, gender, and whether they identify as Indigenous, a visible minority, or as a person with a disability.

Systemic and cultural biases in the broader research enterprise prevent underrepresented groups from advancing in scientific leadership.

Implement strategies to influence the broader research enterprise to adopt more equitable and inclusive practices.

Progress Update
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