Open letter to University Presidents and Vice-Presidents from the Canada Research Chairs Program: 2019 Addendum to the 2006 Canadian Human Rights Settlement Agreement

July 31, 2019

To the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the institutions participating in the Canada Research Chairs Program:

We are writing as the Chairs of the Steering and Management Committees of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) to provide an important update related to a Canadian Human Rights Settlement Agreement.

2019 Addendum to the 2006 Canadian Human Rights Settlement Agreement

A number of the measures the Program has implemented to address the underrepresentation of individuals from the four designated groups (women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities) within the Program stem from a 2006 Canadian Human Rights Settlement Agreement. This agreement was reached between a group of eight academics who filed complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) in 2003. In 2017, at the request of the equity seeking plaintiffs, the 2006 Settlement Agreement was made a federal court order because they considered that not enough progress had been made in addressing the underrepresentation in the Program in the 11 years since the agreement had been signedFootnote 1. In lieu of a federal court process, the Program entered into a collaborative mediation process with the equity seeking plaintiffs and the commission to come to an agreement on changes to the settlement agreement that would address the inequities within the Program in a systemic, structural and sustainable way. The 2019 Addendum outlines the new terms of the settlement agreement.

The 15-year review of the Program has reinforced that greater transparency and accountability in the processes used by institutions for the allocation and selection of chairholders was necessary to ensure that institutional equity targets were met.

In addition, in 2017, the Government of Canada launched the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. The plan stipulated that institutions must develop their own equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action plans; publish information and data about the management of their chair allocations on public accountability and transparency web pages; and meet institutional equity targets by December 2019.

In addition to these measures, the 2019 Addendum will:

  • set deadlines to meet population-based equity targets by 2029;
  • implement targets by Tier 1 and Tier 2 Chairs for large institutions;
  • implement intersectionalFootnote 2 best practices;
  • add considerations for how to recruit and support individuals from LGBTQ2+ communities; and
  • revise the self-identification form to collect data on nominees and chairholders who identify with LGBTQ2+ communities and who identify as white.

These measures are complementary to the Program’s current EDI measures in that they will help achieve its objective of attracting and retaining a diverse cadre of world-class researchers to reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian postsecondary institutions. They are also complementary to the commitment and efforts demonstrated by Canadian postsecondary institutions in addressing EDI more broadly. To implement the Addendum, the Program will develop and launch a revised EDI action plan (EDIAP 2.0) in collaboration with participating institutions in the winter of 2019-20.

The program wishes to formally acknowledge and recognize the important contributions that the equity seeking plaintiffs—Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Louise Forsyth, Glenis Joyce, Audrey Kobayashi, Shree Mulay, Michèle Ollivier, Susan Prentice, and Wendy Robbins—have made in improving the level of representation in the Program by way of their 2003 complaints and their concerted efforts through the mediation processes, both recently and in 2006. As a formal recognition of the equity seeking plaintiffs’ contributions, the Program is renaming its yearly EDI institutional recognition award to the Robbins-Ollivier Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Excellence. The late Wendy Robbins and Michèle Ollivier were part of the original group of eight equity seeking plaintiffs and were known as strong advocates for EDI in the academy.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, the Minister of Science and Sport and the Minister of Health, the CRCP is strongly committed to continuing its collaborative work with institutions to implement the measures in the 2019 Addendum by the deadlines stipulated. This work will build on the strong progress that institutions have made within the Program in recent years. To this end, the Program remains firmly committed to addressing the longstanding systemic barriers within the Program and ensuring that the goals and benefits of EDI within the CRCP are realized.

For additional information on the 2019 Addendum, its implementation and the Program’s current EDI measures, please see the frequently asked questions.


Ted Hewitt, PhD
Chair, CRCP Steering Committee
President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Dominique Bérubé, PhD
Chair, CRCP Management Committee
Vice-president, Research Programs
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Institution’s first contact
Institution’s second contact

Michael Strong, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Digvir Jayas, Interim President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation
John Knubley, Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Simon Kennedy, Deputy Minister, Health Canada
Danika Goosney, Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate,
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Adrian Mota, Associate Vice-President, Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Nipun Vats, Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Research Sector, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Peter Monette, Manager, Bioethics and Science Advice, Health Canada


Footnote 1

For instance, when the settlement agreement was signed in 2006, women represented 23% of active chairholders. In 2017, women represented 30% of active chairholders. In other words, over 11 years the representation of women in the Program grew by 7%. Members of visible minorities represented 11.7% of active chairholders in 2009 and 13.4% in 2017. Likewise the representation of Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities was slowly growing.

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Footnote 2

“Intersectionality” was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, currently professor of law at Columbia Law School and the University of California, Los Angeles. In a paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum, Crenshaw wrote that traditional feminist ideas and antiracist policies exclude black women because they face overlapping discrimination unique to them. The Oxford English Dictionary defines intersectionality as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage….”

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