Guidance on eligibility of COVID-19 potential costs

Updated: February 3, 2022

In light of the continued surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada and around the world, Global Affairs Canada is extending the COVID-19 flexibility measures for international development partners beyond March 31, 2022 by one year to March 31, 2023. To ensure the effective and efficient use of funding to achieve international development results, we underscore the importance of partners ensuring appropriate and timely financial and results reporting and adjusting financial forecasts to reflect revised project delivery schedules and cash-on-hand. For partners that have benefited from Government of Canada COVID emergency support programs, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), we will provide guidance shortly to clarify the applicable accounting and reporting as it pertains to expenses eligible to be reimbursed by Global Affairs Canada. This new guidance will be added to the Financial Policies for International Development Assistance website.

The following measures were developed at the beginning of the pandemic after government directions on mandatory self-isolation had been enacted to ensure that there were no contractual or financial barriers preventing you from repatriating your employees (and their dependants), volunteers, interns and students to their home countries. In addition, they provided flexibility on financial and narrative reporting requirements in the initial period of the pandemic.

These measures also provide continued flexibility and guidance on the eligibility of costs for other situations that could be encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance applies only to contribution agreements under the International Development Assistance Program and will be updated as the crisis unfolds.

Recipient organizations are encouraged to consult the Travel guidance for international development partners during the pandemic, review the questions and answers and discuss context-specific situations with their respective Global Affairs Canada project management team. In addition, please work with your Global Affairs Canada counterparts to maintain a record of all decisions, changes to your project’s implementation and project costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible costs related to COVID-19 for International Development Assistance Program: October 1st 2021 to March 31, 2023
SituationRecommendation and explanation
Local office costs, such as rent and utilities, when the recipient organization must suspend project activities

Eligible project expense until further notice. Consideration should be given to not renewing leases for local offices, vehicles and other assets in situations where project activities are paused or suspended without a projected date of resumption.

The recipient organization and the respective GAC project management team are encouraged to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for each scenario to determine the least expensive alternative that minimizes negative impacts on the project results (cancelling versus continuing payments for a lease agreement).

Incremental telework costs of HQ and repatriated employees:

  • Teleconference service and subscriptions (example, Zoom Pro)
  • Internet security costs
  • New and updated software (example, Adobe)
  • Training for new software
Eligible project expenses. GAC project management team may pre-approve the incremental portion of remote costs on a case-by-case basis, with proper analysis and documentation of the decision and rationale.

REVISED Incremental telecommunication costs in local offices:

  • Internet
  • Wi-Fi dongles
Eligible project expenses. GAC project management team may pre-approve the incremental portion of remote costs on a case-by-case basis, with proper analysis and documentation of the decision and rationale.
Deadlines for project implementation plans (PIPs)GAC is extending the PIP submission deadlines by 120 days unless other direction has been provided by the GAC project management team.
Flexibility to reallocate between budget lines to meet the necessary changing activities and prioritiesThis flexibility may be used for all budget lines, regardless of existing clauses in a contribution agreement to this effect. However, subject to approval from GAC, no amendment document will be necessary since GAC’s approval will be duly documented and acknowledged by the recipient electronically. Note that for agreements with multiple amendments in which this COVID-19 flexibility has been applied, a formal amendment document may be required.
REVISED Recipient organization unable to continue meeting its cost sharing commitments for final year of the project (example: cash, volunteer work)

In the event that the project is in its final year, GAC may waive the cost-sharing requirement for the following reason:

  • The organization's financial situation does not allow it to make an in-kind or cash contribution.

In order to take advantage of this exception:

  • The organization must demonstrate its financial situation does not allow it to make an in-kind or cash contribution
  • The project must not be extended;
  • The maximum amount to be waived must be proportionate to that year’s cost share only.
  • The organization can demonstrate that the expected results of the project have been achieved.
No amendment to the contribution agreement will be required if approval is properly documented.

Application of a fixed overhead rate of 12% on the deemed daily value (up to Can$200 per working day) provided to the recipient organization for:

  • National volunteers
  • South-South volunteers
  • Canadian volunteers working remotely

The provision of a fixed overhead rate on the deemed daily value of Canadian volunteers on travel status is extended, on an exceptional basis, to the deemed daily value of national and South-South volunteers, as well as Canadian volunteers working remotely due to COVID-19 reasons.

Allocation of up to Can$35 per working day to Canadian volunteers working remotely, to a maximum of Can$700 per month.

Canadian volunteers who are working remotely due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions are eligible for an allocation of up to Can$35 per working day, to a maximum of Can$700 per month, when working on project activities remotely.

Reimbursement of travel expenses deemed eligible under the National Joint Council (NJC) Travel Directive for national volunteers on travel status.

National volunteers on travel status are eligible to be reimbursed for travel-related expenses as per the NJC Travel Directive, up to the maximum amounts determined by the organization’s internal travel policies. Where the organization does not have internal travel policies, the NJC Travel Directive amounts can be used as the maximum allowable for reimbursement.

Coverage of nominal costs incurred for transportation to and from the site of volunteering activities and daily meals during volunteering hours for national volunteers not on travel status.

National volunteers not on travel status are eligible to have costs covered for transportation to and from the site of volunteering activities, as well as for one meal per volunteer during volunteering hours. These costs must be consistent with the actual amount required to cover these costs, on an individual or group basis, and with the organization’s internal policies.

Volunteers from countries not receiving Official Development Assistance (ODA)

The flexibilities for volunteers provided above could be used as a guideline and benchmark for volunteers from countries not eligible for ODA. The project management team will have to determine eligibility based on the nature of the programming.

Travel costs (for example, transportation, accommodation, meals and incidentals)

Volunteers working from home are not considered on travel status and therefore cannot receive travel-related allocations.

Guidance for contracts for professional servicesGAC will follow advice and guidance provided by Public Services and Procurement Canada and apply a Government of Canada approach to managing contracts consistent with other departments and agencies, as well as internal GAC contracting teams.