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Coronavirus

Coronavirus Updates:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to know that we are taking every precautionary measure that we can to ensure the wellbeing of our researchers, staff, volunteers, partners and local communities. We care deeply about the people and communities we serve.


Statistics Canada and CRDCN are abiding by the edicts coming from various levels of government and partner institutions. The health of RDC staff and researchers is paramount as Canada tries to contain the effects of Covid-19.

As a result, all RDCs will cease to operate until further notice to comply with the preventative measures recommended by public health authorities.


CRDCN central staff are now working remotely. Business continuity plans are in effect and we will be working with Statistics Canada and local Academic Directors to assess and help mitigate the impact on our research community.

We acknowledge the challenge this situation has raised for our researchers as this is a busy time of year with important deadlines, as such, we have created an issue letter available for download that you might use as needed. If you have any further questions or require further accommodations, please email us at [email protected]

 

FAQ

If you have a question that does not appear in our FAQ list, please contact us.

1. What support is CRDCN offering researchers during the shutdown?

We have modified our deadlines
We have extended or modified many of our deadlines to accommodate the challenges our researchers are facing due to  COVID-19. Please note that:
    • The researcher survey completion deadline has been extended to May 1st. Those who have yet to complete the survey will be receiving a reminder email.
    • The call for proposals for research related to the APS 2017 has been extended to July 31st. 
For researchers interested in datasets related to COVID-19
We are compiling a list of researchers in our Network who are interested in being contacted to contribute to the COVID-19 research efforts. 
 
Please contact Johanne Provençal (Research Program Director, CRDCN) if you:

We will continue to work closely with Statistics Canada and the CRDCN research community to facilitate collaborative efforts and identify rapid-response opportunities. Please see FAQ question 5 for more details.

For researchers contributing to public discourse about COVID-19
We are working to increase awareness of the contributions that members of the CRDCN research community are making to public discourse about COVID-19 and to showcase it on our platforms. If you have contributed to media or other public platforms about COVID-19, please share your mentions with Chloé Roussel (Director of Communications and Engagement, CRDCN) 

We invite you to present your research
We have launched a webinar series to enable CRDCN researchers from across the country to present their research findings virtually to colleagues nationally and internationally. We will support researchers with our webinar technology and we are accepting applications here. All webinars will be promoted on our website and Twitter account.

Upcoming opportunities
CRDCN will be working with Academic Directors, StatCan and other partners to identify training opportunities that could be offered online to both emerging and established researchers. We will be sharing updates shortly. Planning is also underway to launch an online platform to support communities of practice in the CRDCN Network. 

2. How long will the RDC be closed and who makes the decision to reopen them?

RDC staff are Statistics Canada employees and, as such, StatCan managers are following Treasury Board guidelines for federal public servants, which currently require RDC staff to work from home. Senior officials at StatCan and CRDCN central staff are closely monitoring federal, provincial and municipal government directives as well as those of partner universities to ensure the health and safety of staff, Academic Directors, researchers and our broader communities.

Ultimately, the decision to reopen the RDCs will be made by StatCan in consultation with CRDCN. This decision will be aligned with public health advice from all levels of government as well as the re-opening protocols of partner universities. StatCan and CRDCN central staff are committed to providing access to RDC sites as soon as we can do so safely and responsibly.

3. Will some RDCs reopen before others?

It is too early to tell at this time given how rapidly the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving in different parts of the country. A staggered approach to opening the RDCs could be possible if some provinces, cities and their local universities find themselves in a position to lift current restrictions sooner than others. StatCan and CRDCN will continue to monitor the situation in each part of the country so that we can be ready to resume operations as quickly and efficiently as possible when it is safe and feasible to do so.

4. What new protocols will be in place when the RDCs reopen?

StatCan and CRDCN central staff will be working together to develop guidelines for local RDC staff and Academic Directors to assist them in the transition to reopening the RDCs when feasible. These guidelines will take into consideration any new expectations created by the need to maintain physical distancing even once the current restrictions are lifted. For instance, guidance may be provided regarding the number of colleagues allowed to work in the RDC at one time and/or the distance to be maintained among colleagues as they work. These guidelines will be aligned with public health advice as well as the protocols of partner universities to ensure the safety of RDC staff, Academic Directors and researchers. 

5. Could some researchers be granted remote access to contribute to Canada's COVID-19 response?

Statistics Canada is currently assessing whether it could offer remote access to a limited number of CRDCN researchers who can demonstrate value added research that would contribute to the immediate COVID-19 response effort. For instance, Statistics Canada is currently facilitating  remote access for a researcher in B.C. to support COVID-19 research, and is assessing a request from researchers in Quebec.

Alternative access modes are also being facilitated, such as the provision of Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) free of charge for 6 months for anyone in the Network who requests it for COVID-19 related or any other research.The RTRA system is an online remote access facility allowing users to run SAS programs, in real-time, against microdata located in a central and secure location. A full range of descriptive statistics are available through this tool. RTRA users can calculate frequencies, means, percentiles, percent distribution, proportions, ratios, and shares.

Researchers using the RTRA system do not gain direct access to the microdata and cannot view the content of the microdata file. Instead, users submit SAS programs to extract results in the form of frequency tables. As RTRA researchers cannot view the microdata, becoming a deemed employee of Statistics Canada is not necessary. This relationship is the basis that allows the RTRA to service its clients rapidly. Consult the RTRA user guide for more information.
 
Statistics Canada will also launch discussion sessions with researchers to identify key research questions that would inform policies and programs required in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These sessions could help identify partnership opportunities for Statistics Canada and researchers to co-develop and publish analytical articles, data products or visualizations that will support COVID-19 in the short term. Such outputs would typically be developed in 2-3 weeks sprints.  

6. I am a student who needs access to the RDCs to complete work to graduate. What should I do?

We are mindful of students across Canada who are finding themselves affected by university and research facility closures, which is requiring modifications to their research plans, their research timelines and to their access to research subjects and research data. These restrictions have largely been put in place by universities and their research partners to abide by public health agencies’ and governments’ directives to ensure the safety of researchers, research subjects and personnel who provide access to research facilities.
 
Your first step should be to check with your academic department and/or thesis advisor to determine your institution’s policies with regard to completion of research in light of COVID-19 interruptions.
 
We are working closely with StatCan to help mitigate some of the effects of the RDC closures on your work, including ensuring that RDC access extensions will automatically be granted to those students who cannot currently access the RDC to complete their work, assessing options for vetting work already completed, and providing an official letter to funders or universities that explains that the research cannot currently be pursued as planned due to the temporary shut down of the local RDC. The letter can be found here.

7. Will security clearances and new applications to work in the RDCs still be processed during the shut down?

The short answer is yes. StatCan is working to ensure that requests for access and security clearances from new applicants will continue to be processed while the RDCs are closed.
 
The research community needs to understand, however, that it is not business as usual. For example, some of the staff who would normally be involved in these activities have had to divert their efforts to mission-critical priorities related to the COVID-19 response. StatCan’s objective is to continue to process requests to the best of its current ability and to address any backlog as quickly and as efficiently as possible to ensure that CRDCN researchers are well prepared to ramp up their work without delay when the RDCs re-open.

8. What are the plans for the CRDCN National Conference?

Our annual conference and special celebration of CRDCN’s 20th anniversary is scheduled to take place in Ottawa on November 2nd to 4th 2020. We have yet to promote the event due to the current restrictions on public gatherings.

We aim to make a decision regarding a potential postponement of the conference by late May, should this prove necessary. We hope, however, to be able to bring our community together for this special celebration in November and encourage CRDCN researchers to save the date in their calendars.