Guidance on eligibility of COVID-19 potential costs

Updated: April 1, 2021

We recognize the impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the delivery of international development assistance projects.

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 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: Extension of measures to September 30, 2021
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.

Incremental telecommunication costs in local offices:

  • Initial purchasing of hardware (example, computers and peripherals)
  • 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. Any tangible assets purchased should be disposed of at the end of the project in accordance with the asset disposal plan as per the signed contribution agreement.
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.
REVISED 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.
Recipient organization unable to continue meeting its cost sharing commitments such as cash or volunteer work

The recipient organization should explore options with the GAC project management team, depending on the nature of its cost-sharing contributions and based on its demonstrated difficulty in meeting its cost-sharing obligations, such as:

  • considering another type of eligible contribution of equivalent value, such as cash or in-kind (for example, e-volunteering), as applicable
  • deferring its cash contribution or postponing the volunteer activities to future years of the project

If the project is in its final year, the GAC project management team may waive the cost-sharing obligation, as long as the project is not extended, the amount to be waived is proportionate to that year’s cost share only and it can be demonstrated that the project expected results have been achieved. No contribution agreement amendment will be necessary if the approval is duly documented.

Reduction or release of holdback

GAC has implemented a temporary approach to holdbacks for projects ending in fiscal years 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022 to allow GAC project management teams the flexibility to reduce or waive holdback requirements on a project-by-project basis.

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.

NEW 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.

NEW 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.
Initial eligible costs related to COVID-19 for International Development Assistance Program: One-time expenses eligible before March 31, 2021 EXPIRED
SituationRecommendation and explanation
Repatriation to home country of project employees, dependants, volunteers and students/internsEligible project expenses
Transportation costs to and from the airport or place of quarantine or temporary self-isolation for project employees, dependants, volunteers and students/internsEligible project expenses
Salary of recipient organization’s employees (headquarters staff and employees on long-term assignment)GAC will cover as an eligible project expense up to the equivalent of 30 working days of salary, commencing on the day following the suspension of project activities. This measure applies beyond regular work performed toward direct project activities or project planning and realignment efforts to assess whether project activities can be maintained. This period will allow both the organization and GAC to discuss the future of the project and avoid rushing any decision, thereby ensuring that the best approach is adopted.
Salary of local employeesGAC will cover as an eligible project expense up to the equivalent of 30 working days of salary, commencing on the day following the suspension of project activities. This period will allow both the organization and GAC to discuss the future of the project and avoid rushing any decision, thereby ensuring that the best approach is adopted.
Accommodation costs and allowance for meals and incidentals in the city of repatriationEligible project expense. The provisions contained in Chapter 11 of the Technical Assistance Handbook should be applied for the organization’s employees/dependants, volunteers and students/interns on an exceptional basis (the exception being a COVID-19 specific measure). This provision is for the purposes of the initial repatriation of these individuals: it is not meant to be provided as an ongoing allocation/reimbursement.
Relocation costs for project employees, dependants, volunteers and students/internsActual and reasonable relocation costs contained in chapter 4 of the Technical Assistance Handbook will be reimbursed.
Flight and/or project-related event cancellation costsEligible project expense if the organization made a non-refundable purchase; otherwise, a credit can be issued and used for future travel/event.
Deadlines for narrative reportsGAC is extending the reporting deadlines by 2 months unless other direction has been provided by the GAC project management team.
Deadlines for financial reportsThe same financial reporting provisions continue to apply (it follows the advance cycle). However, given the COVID-19 situation, a third advance can be issued regardless of the number of outstanding justified advances.