Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


About the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund

What is the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is providing up to $2 billion for infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions across Canada to enhance and modernize research and commercialization facilities, as well as industry-relevant training facilities at college and polytechnic institutions.

The program supports projects that correspond to at least one of the following three categories:

The funds from federal sources will cover up to half (50%) of the project's eligible costs, with the remaining amount of funding coming from non-federal partners except for institutions accredited by an Aboriginal Government where total federal funding could be up to 100%.

Why is the Government of Canada funding post-secondary institution infrastructure?

In Budget 2016, the federal government put forward a vision to build Canada as a global centre of innovation—one that focuses on strengthening the middle class by creating jobs, driving growth across all industries and improving the lives of all Canadians. Known as the Innovation Agenda, this is an inclusive plan to foster a confident nation of innovators - one that is globally competitive in promoting research, translating ideas into new products and services, accelerating business growth and propelling entrepreneurs from the start-up phase to international success.

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is helping realize the Innovation Agenda's vision by investing up to $2 billion over three years in post-secondary institutions infrastructure across Canada including universities, colleges and other research institutions to reinvigorate Canada's research and science base, address existing needs and help achieve Canada's long-term innovation and sustainability objectives.

Post-secondary institutions play a fundamental role in Canadian society by developing highly skilled and creative workers. Quality infrastructure in these institutions is key for attracting and retaining talented people, boosting innovation and building a sustainable economy. The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund aims to modernize research and commercialization facilities, as well as industry-relevant training facilities at colleges and polytechnic institutions. This helps strengthen the development of highly-qualified, talented people, performing world-leading research, and generating new breakthrough ideas.

Which institutions were eligible for funding under this program?

Accredited universities, colleges, publicly funded polytechnic schools, CEGEPs and institutes of technology were eligible for federal support under this program.

Eligible recipients were defined as those institutions that are directly or indirectly authorized by agreement, under the terms of provincial or territorial statutes, to deliver post-secondary courses or programs that lead to recognized and transferable post-secondary credentials. This encompasses both public and not-for-profit private institutions, including Aboriginal-controlled (institutions created by Aboriginal organizations, band councils or Aboriginal governments) and Government of Canada-controlled post-secondary education institutions.

Those institutions that are affiliated or federated with an eligible institution, for example research and teaching hospitals, research parks, incubators and accelerators, were able to apply but had to do so through the institution with which they are affiliated.

Which types of projects were considered eligible for funding under this program?

Under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, projects were considered eligible if they corresponded to the enhancement, expansion, new construction or repair of infrastructure assets and fit into at least one of the following three objectives:

Will this be a permanent program?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is a temporary program to generate immediate short-term economic activity, while supporting longer-term innovation and environmental objectives. Projects were submitted and selected in response to a one-time call for applications ending May 9, 2016.

About the program funding

When did the program funding decisions occur?

Funding decisions have been made and projects have been publicly announced. A list of Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund projects by province and territory, as well as an interactive map are available for all approved projects.

How were projects selected?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund accepted project proposals from post-secondary education institutions and from provinces and territories.

Project proposals were considered against the following criteria:

The Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) conducted project proposal reviews against the program criteria. Eligible projects were selected at the discretion of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in consultation with the Minister of Science and the provinces and territories. Subsequently, contribution agreements were finalized and signed between the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and all provinces, territories as well as some individual institutions.

What was the maximum amount of funding available per project?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund sought to support projects at post-secondary education institutions in communities across Canada. No maximum amount of funding per project was identified. In the case where a selected project had over $50 million of Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund funding, additional steps in the selection and approval process took place.

How was the program funding disbursed?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and the recipients established a schedule of payments over the life of the project. Payments are made against detailed quarterly reports.

Matching project funding may come from the eligible recipients themselves, provincial or territorial governments, the charitable sector, the private sector, or others partners. The federal government investment must be matched by the investment of all combined partners except institutions accredited by an Aboriginal Government. In those cases, the total federal funding could be up to 100%.

Were projects able to receive funding through other federal programs on top of funding through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund program?

Yes, although the maximum allowable funding from all federal sources was 50% of the project's total eligible costs. An exception to this rule is institutions accredited by an Aboriginal Government. In those cases, the total federal funding could be up to 100%.

Which costs are eligible for reimbursement under the program?

Eligible Expenditures are those incurred between the period of May 9, 2016 and the program end date and considered by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in consultation with the Minister of Science, to be direct and necessary for the successful implementation of an eligible project.

Project costs that are eligible under the program include:

  1. capital costs of constructing or renovating tangible capital assets, as defined and determined according to, accounting principles generally accepted in Canada;
  2. expenditures directly associated with joint federal communication activities (press releases, press conferences, translation, etc.) and with recognition signage as set out in the contribution agreement;
  3. costs of other communication activities, project-related signage (i.e. safety), lighting, project markings and utility adjustments;
  4. engineering and environmental planning costs, including costs for planning, surveying, remedial activities, architectural supervision, testing and management consulting services;
  5. the costs of engineering and environmental reviews, including environmental assessments and follow-up programs as defined in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012 and the costs of remedial activities, mitigation measures and follow-up identified in any environmental assessment;
  6. costs of Aboriginal consultations relating to the project;
  7. project audit and evaluation costs;
  8. moving costs (labour) incurred as part of construction;
  9. landscaping costs, costs to construct or extend pedestrian walkways, roadways and/or parking lots provided the costs related directly to the construction of a new facility or the expansion/renovation of an existing facility;
  10. leasing of equipment related to the construction of the project;
  11. the incremental costs of the applicant's employees or leasing of equipment may be included as eligible expenditures under the following conditions:
    • the recipient is able to demonstrate that it is not economically feasible to tender a contract;
    • the employee or equipment is engaged directly in respect of the work that would have been the subject of the contract; and
    • the arrangement is approved in advance and in writing by Canada; and
  12. other costs that, in the opinion of Canada, are considered to be direct and necessary for the successful implementation of the proposed project and have been approved in writing prior to being incurred.

Ineligible Expenditures

Ineligible expenditures include the following:

  1. costs incurred prior to the effective date of May 9, 2016;
  2. costs incurred after the program end date;
  3. land acquisition, leasing land, buildings (acquisitions and leasing), equipment not related directly to infrastructure repair, renovation or construction, and other facilities, real estate fees and related costs;
  4. financing charges, legal fees (including those related to easements (e.g. surveys), and loan interest payments;
  5. expenditures related to developing a project proposal for funding;
  6. any goods and services costs which are received through donations or in kind;
  7. purchase of furniture and equipment with the exception of equipment which is fixed and integral to the building structure such HVAC and central IT infrastructure;
  8. employee wages and benefits, overhead costs as well as other direct or indirect operating, maintenance and administrative costs incurred by the ultimate recipient for the eligible project(s), and more specifically costs relating to services delivered directly by permanent employees of the ultimate recipient, or a Crown corporation or corporation owned and controlled by the ultimate recipient; and
  9. provincial and federal sales tax, for which the ultimate recipient is eligible for a rebate, and any other costs eligible for rebates.

Are contingency costs eligible for funding under the program?

Contingency costs are not an eligible expense under this program. Quarterly and final reimbursements are based on actual costs incurred. Blanket contingency/allowance/escalation items (i.e. 10% of construction costs) are not eligible for funding under the program guidelines. The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund eligible costs are based on the program's Treasury Board approved terms and conditions.

As per the program guide, applicants were encouraged to provide a breakdown of project costs when submitting their application. If applicants submitted contingency costs as part of their application, these costs were considered ineligible.

Is the sales tax paid by the recipient eligible for reimbursement under the program?

Ineligible expenditures include provincial and federal sales tax, for which the ultimate recipient is eligible for a rebate, and any other costs eligible for rebates. In order to determine the eligibility of tax costs, applicants must provide the percentage of tax being applied net of rebates with details explaining the calculation. An acceptable substantiation of tax net of rebate includes a list of items to which the tax and rebate applies. It is not sufficient to provide a figure identified as tax net of rebate without this information.

About the program delivery

Once projects were selected, what were the next steps?

Once projects were selected for funding, the negotiation of contribution agreements between the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and provinces, territories or individual institutions occurred. Funding decisions have been made and projects have been publicly announced.

How were provinces and territories involved with the program?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is a cost-sharing program between the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments. Consultations were held with all provincial and territorial partners throughout the program development phases and during the project approval process. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions were also invited to identify projects that were a priority for their government.

How will the benefits of the program be conveyed to the public?

A list of Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund projects by province and territory, as well as an interactive map are available for all approved projects. Additionally, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will report on the ongoing implementation and effectiveness of this initiative through the Departmental Results Framework.

How will the projects be monitored?

Similar to other grants and contributions programs managed by the federal government, the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund a project management framework with a number of control mechanisms including regular reporting to track project progress and how much funding has been spent throughout the project implementation.

About the program extension

Why was the substantial completion date extended for the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund?

Recognizing that unforeseen conditions have created delays in the implementation for many approved projects across Canada, the substantial completion date has been extended from April 30, 2018 to November 30, 2018.

In order to qualify for this extension, Ultimate Recipients must submit an application explaining the reasons for project delays and demonstrating the need to continue to incur eligible project costs in order to achieve project substantial completion after the original deadline of April 30, 2018 and no later than November 30, 2018.

Is additional funding available as a result of the program extension?

No additional funding has been allocated for the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund program as a result of the extension.

What types of unforeseen events are considered as factors justifying the need for a project extension?

Extension Application Forms will be reviewed and assessed on a case-by-case basis. Ultimate Recipients are required to provide details with respect to the cause of a project delay, conditions, the impact on specific activities, resources and/or requirements, as well as mitigation measures.

Ultimate recipients must demonstrate that their project encountered issues, causing unforeseen delays, such as:

What if a project is not completed by the new deadline of November 30, 2018?

Projects approved for extension will have to achieve substantial completion no later than November 2018. Any costs incurred after November 30, 2018 will be considered ineligible under the program (with the exception of close-out audit costs which can be incurred up to 90 days after the substantial completion date).

Which projects will be extended?

Projects that are currently on schedule to be completed by April 30, 2018 are expected to be completed by that date. Projects seeking an extension to the substantial completion date will be assessed on a case-by-case basis against the criteria detailed in the application form.

What is the involvement of the provinces and territories in the extension approval process?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is a cost-shared program implemented in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments across the country. Provincial/Territorial governments are responsible for overseeing the implementation of projects and reporting on the progress made and the financial resources used on a project-by-project basis.

Ultimate Recipients applying for a project extension must submit their application to their respective province/territory for review. Should the province/territory agree with the extension request, a confirmation email will be sent to the Ultimate Recipient confirming the provincial/territorial support. A copy of this email will have to be included in the final extension application package submitted to the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

How will extension requests be assessed and implemented?

Once an extension request is received by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, a quality review will be performed to ensure the Application Form has been appropriately completed and all the required documents have been provided.

The extension request will be assessed against the unforeseen delay conditions to determine if the project qualifies for an extension. On-going consultations will be held with each province/territory throughout the assessment phase to discuss the validity of certain requests. The results of the assessment will be communicated in a timely manner with provincial and territorial governments and Ultimate Recipients. ISED officials will then work with the provincial/territorial governments to amend the current contribution agreements.
Funding will continue to flow to provinces/territories on a quarterly basis.

How will reporting work during the extension period?

Ultimate Recipients that are granted a project extension will be asked to continue to report on progress and expenses on a quarterly basis. In some instances, Ultimate Recipients will be asked to report more frequently.

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