A message to our research community about the COVID-19 pandemic

March 30, 2020

OICR’s Emergency Response Team has been working diligently with the Executive to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heeding the recommendations of Public Health Ontario, OICR has closed down our offices and laboratories for regular business, and implemented a work from home policy. We have prepared our staff to operate using telephone and online platforms, and remain committed to working with our researchers and stakeholders to the best extent possible.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are immense and OICR understands that closures of many workplaces, institutions, schools and other organizations are causing drastic changes in our personal and professional lives. We realize that this has created unprecedented challenges and that you are encountering difficulties with conducting your planned research activities.

Last week, as we were approaching the end of our fiscal year, we communicated regular reporting timelines. Recognizing the fluidity of the situation and OICR’s need to remain flexible, OICR is offering our funded researchers an automatic six-month extension to year-end Key Performance Indicator and Financial reporting through ReportNet and CaAwardNet, respectively. If you happen to be in a position to report your data however, we would be glad to receive your information according to the regular timeline. Researchers may also request an extension of up to six-months on project deliverables and milestones by contacting the Senior Director of Research Operations, Robert Campos, at robert.campos@oicr.on.ca. OICR-funded research projects with an end date up to September 30, 2020 will be granted a no-cost extension to March 31, 2021 automatically. We will be flexible and the six-month extension will be reassessed when we better understand how the COVID-19 containment measures will affect our ability to perform our research over the medium and long term.

In general, the schedule of disbursement of funds will continue as per established agreements. In cases where disbursements are contingent upon patient accrual, we will continue to disburse funds to cover staff salaries, but may withhold funds covering patient visit costs, if justified. Your OICR contact will be in touch to discuss any changes before any action is taken.

Your safety is paramount. We ask you to follow all government and institutional requests around social distancing in order to reduce the impact and spread of this virus. The fastest way we can continue our important work right now is to comply with containment measures stated by the Public Health authorities – ensuring everyone involved in OICR-funded research stays safe and healthy so we can resume as quickly as possible when it is clear to do so. OICR is available to support you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@oicr.on.ca if you have any questions.

Read more about how OICR researchers are helping understand and overcome COVID-19.