UHN research held a series of town halls to discuss a number of important initiatives that are happening across UHN.
 
This online forum has been established to provide responses to some of the questions that may not have been addressed during the town halls and to provide an opportunity for more questions and feedback. We welcome all questions and would like this to act as a platform for further discussion about future directions for research at UHN.
 
Everyone in research (researchers, clinicians, administrative staff, trainees, services staff) is encouraged to post questions (anonymously or not) and share ideas and aspirations for what UHN research can be. While responses to your questions will be provided by Dr. Brad Wouters (EVP Science and Research; in consultation with Research Institute Directors or others when appropriate), everyone is able to contribute to and expand the discussion.
 
You can view a recording of the Michener town hall by clicking here. A copy of the town hall slide deck is available for download here.
 
If you require further clarification about the 5% support service fee please contact a Research Financial Services (RFS) Senior Business Analyst at SupportServiceFee@uhnresearch.ca.
 
 
 
 
 

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Most Recent Conversations

Topic:

Apr 19, 2018 3:01pm

Q. Will the 5% service fee be added to every pay payroll period (research accounts)? Will it show as a separate amount on the monthly statement?

A. The fee is not tied to payroll processing or payroll periods.  The fee will be identified monthly on the account report available to principal investigators through the Research Financial Information System.

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Topic: Finances

Apr 03, 2018 4:48pm

Q: If you have fund from an industry supported grant that has paid 30 or 35% overhead is this subjected to the 5% tax as well?

A: No. Funds that bring in overhead to cover indirect expenses are exempt from the fee.

 

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Topic: Finances

Mar 14, 2018 8:37am

Q: 5% service fee on NEW grants BEING applied for makes sense so we can budget for that ahead of time. Slashing the EXISTING grants by 5% requires unanticipated re-planning of research and reduction in the scope of statement of work and job losses.

A: We recognize that the new fee will have an impact on research projects that currently do not provide any funds for their associated indirect expenses. The 5% represents only a partial recovery of these real costs and all such programs will continue to benefit from institutional support. The new fee ensures that all projects are contributing in at least a small way to these costs.

 

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Mar 08, 2018 5:49pm

Q: Research grants, contracts and REB processes are always challenging. Is anything being done to streamline the process to make it more usable for researchers who may not have support staff.

A: Yes - we are working on ways to streamline and improve these services. The ability to deliver on these services is strained by underinvestment associated with grants and funds that do not provide support for these costs. The 5% fee is designed in part to address this imbalance.

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Topic:

Mar 08, 2018 1:54pm

Q: Does this mean I will lose 5% of my salary?

A: The new fee will not lead to any change in salary. If you have questions about a particular award or fund please contact SupportServiceFee@uhnresearch.ca.

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Topic: Finances

Mar 07, 2018 3:51pm

Q: Does this new fee have anything to do with the minimum wage increase?

A: No - this fee is addressing the need to cover the full costs of research, which include services such as Human Resources, IT, legal, finance, ethics, infrastructure, space costs etc.

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Topic: Finances

Mar 07, 2018 3:09pm

Q: What are some things we can do as researchers or labs in order to save UHN money and decrease these indirect expenses?

A: Most of the indirect costs are fixed costs associated with the operations and financing of our space, and for the operations teams that support our finances, infrastructure, IT, legal, commercialization, human resources, contracts, and clinical trial support. These are part of the full costs of research and the best way that researchers can help is to secure funds that bring in associated overheads for these costs, or to build them into your budgets for foundations and other sponsors of research.

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Topic: Operations

Mar 06, 2018 12:39pm

Q: We were required to make purchases through Plexxus which ends up costing more and taking much longer than going in-store ourselves. I imagine using the Plexxus service is more costly and requires more administration. Can we bypass this middleman?

A: Whether or not you are able to purchase equipment in-store largely depends on the cost and the type of equipment.

Consumables costing <$5,000 can be purchased through SAP eReq, which has a built in catalog that enables users to shop for products they want. However, users are not obligated to purchase the consumable goods at the price that is listed in the catalog. If they can find a better value elsewhere, they can do a free text purchase – provided they have some form of confirmation of the price which must be attached to the requisition (e.g., email, print screen or quote). e-Req is designed to purchase consumable products; the purchase of equipment via eReq should be done with caution.

Equipment costing >$5,000 must be purchased through Plexxus to ensure that it is right for UHN. Through Plexxus, UHN has checks in place for space requirements, electrical safety (CSA), information technology/network safety, laser safety, radiation safety and medical safety. As a result of a fully approved Purchase Requisition (via PROnline), Plexxus issues a purchase order that protects UHN under the purchase order terms and conditions. The purchase order also ensures that we are compliant with the Broader Public Sector Procurement Directive and that we adhere to UHN’s Procurement Policy.

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Topic: Operations

Mar 05, 2018 2:40pm

Q: How can UHN help researchers manage the cost of hiring, compensating and retaining qualified research personnel?

A: Research grants alone are often insufficient to sustain our ambitions for research and to adequately fund the personnel that are part of the research enterprise. We are fortunate to have 3 very strong foundations that collectively raise one $200M each year to support research, education and clinical activities - this is something that many similar organizations do not have. Other sources of funds come from our interactions with industry and through commercialization efforts. We will continue efforts to grow revenues from all available sources - grants, commercialization, and foundations. However, we need to match the full costs of research with these sources of revenues. The new fee is designed to help do that.

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Topic: Finances

Mar 02, 2018 11:47am

Q: It's been stated that RSS will not experience any job losses. Why is it more acceptable for UHN to incur the job losses with those doing the research instead?

A: RSS and other sources of indirect expenses are part of the full costs of research. At UHN the sum of our indirect expenses (space, PI salaries and institute operations, and RSS) account to approximately 30% of our operating expenses. This means that any new funding for operating expenses essentially creates 30% of new indirect costs that must be funded from some other source. This is significantly below the CAHO average of 38% despite the fact that we have the most expensive space in the province. The new fee addresses a current deficit in indirect support and is designed to ensure to prevent an erosion of this essential support for all projects.

We are also continuing to look at ways to improve efficiency and the level of support provided for researchers. The substantial changes made to RSS structure and our continued efforts to seamlessly align with UHN corporate services in January are the first step in the process.

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Topic: Finances

Mar 02, 2018 11:44am

Q: A 5% fee applied to existing accounts with an already established budget and statement of work will likely lead to job losses and potential breaches of contracts for work not completed. How is the Hospital going to deal with this?

A: We recognize that the new 5% fee increases the costs of research and will have an impact on operating funds available to research projects and the scope of work they will be able to carry out going forward. This will require an adjustment of activity. This fee represents a partial recovery of indirect expenses for services that are currently provided free of charge to these projects.

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Topic: Finances

Mar 02, 2018 11:32am

Q: How can this 5% fee be applied to existing grants and contracts that are already in flight? The researcher is contractually bound to deliver on the statement of work.

A: We recognize that the new fee will impact research projects that currently do not provide any funds for their associated indirect expenses. The 5% represents only a partial recovery of these real costs and all such programs will continue to benefit from institutional support. The new fee ensures that all projects are contributing in at least a small way to these costs.

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Topic: Finances

Mar 01, 2018 12:57pm

Q: What about educational grants?

A: The fee will be implemented on all RSF accounts (including educational grants) that currently do not contribute to indirect costs (space, PI salaries, RSS). The education grants also often draw on support from finance, HR, IT, legal, etc. We are working closely with the EVP of education, Brian Hodges, and will ensure that the revenues from this fee support our education institute. RFS will send all fund holders a list of the funds where the fee will be applied and will work with each holder to review any exceptions.

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Topic: Strategic Planning

Feb 28, 2018 4:24pm

Q: Are you setting up specific milestones/targets for generating the industry revenue stream?

A: Yes. Part of the strategic planning process will include setting up key performance indicators to monitor industry revenue growth and success.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:58pm

Q: Why not use the empty space at Toronto Western Hospital to reduce rent costs at the Hydro building?

A: As part of the new infrastructure integration we are looking at all of our space in aggregate and ways to reduce costs. The suggestion you made is one that is currently under investigation and in fact we will see some changes like this soon. We are looking at the efficient uses of all areas of UHN. One of the key strategies of the Facilities Master Planning work happening over the next 12 months will be to take a very strategic look at ensuring that we use all UHN owned spaces effectively.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:57pm

Q: Overhead is currently used to support RSS. Is there any plan to support salaries of research coordinators or post-docs who do not have any other support other than grants? It's unrealistic to support salaries for such employees with grants alone.

A: The 5% fee is being implemented to address our indirect costs. Our Foundations are big supporters of direct research expenses through grants to PIs. Our Research Directors and Program Medical Directors are always working with our Foundations to consider the best way to support this research. Each Foundation will work more closely with the institute in the future to consider initiatives such as these.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:57pm

Q: Will you better integrate the Foundations and UHN especially with Research Financial Services?

A: Yes, we have active projects to increase this alignment. 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:55pm

Q: What are the exemptions to the 5% fee? Is there a list?

A: Any funds used directly to support indirect costs are exempt (for example Foundation funds that support PI salaries/Chair salaries or space). Any funds that bring in associated overhead (CIHR, industry sponsored trials, NIH, etc) are also exempt.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:55pm

Q: What is the savings you expect to generate from the consolidation of research service teams with UHN corporate departments?

A: The consolidation is aimed at strengthening the services and building stronger awareness and expertise within these departments for research. This is what we need to fully realize the potential of being a Research Hospital. We expect that there will also be savings, especially after we streamline research operations across UHN.

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