Health Care Professionals

Ministry Research Funding Opportunities

Health System Research Fund (HSRF) Targeted Calls

Detailed Full Application Instructions for Patient-Oriented Research in Mental Health and Addictions:

Before You Begin Steps and Instructions Required for Completing Your Online HSRF Targeted Calls Application


Before You Begin

Make sure you have a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) IGAM account or click on the link to register. IGAM is the ministry's online grant application system.

Note: If you have previously submitted a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the HSRF Program Awards, Capacity Awards, Targeted Calls and/or MOHLTC partnership funding for CIHR's PHSI competition, your login information remains unchanged.

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Grant Application Overview

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Applications to MOHLTC for the HSRF Targeted Calls must meet the following criteria:

Project Leads employed by federal, provincial or territorial government departments or agencies and for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply for HSRF funding unless they hold an eligible academic or other institutional appointment, in which case the eligible institution must agree to be the sponsor.

Please consult the HSRF Guidelines for details regarding eligible sponsoring institutions.

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Sex and Gender-Based Analysis

Through the HSRF, sex and gender-based analysis has been integrated into all policy-relevant health services/system research funded by the ministry. All research/KTE projects funded through the HSRF are required to include an examination of sex and gender throughout their proposals (i.e., rationale, research design methods and analysis, and knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) plan).

The ministry recommends that applicants consult the Women's Xchange for resources on Sex and Gender Based Analysis. Applicants may also wish to consult the POWER study, CIHR's Gender, Sex and Health resource and the ministry’s Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA) tool.

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Patient Engagement

Through the HSRF, patient engagement has been integrated into all policy-relevant health services/systems research funded by the ministry. The term “patient” includes any person with lived experience of a health issue (in any setting), in particular mental health, addiction and/or problematic substance use issues, as well as informal caregivers, including family and friends. All research/KTE projects funded through the HSRF are required to explain how they will meaningfully and actively engage patients at all stages of their research/KTE projects (i.e., meaningful and active collaboration in governance, conducting research and KTE). Details regarding the recruitment process, plans for compensation, training and evaluation should also be specified.

For references on patient engagement, applicants can consult various resources including:

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Assessment of Full Applications

Applications will be assessed by Scientists, Patients, and Knowledge Users based on the following criteria:


Patient Knowledge User

These criteria will be used by Review Panel members in their assessment of each submission. In many cases, information from multiple sections will be used to assess a submission in relation to a criterion. How each section of the Full Application will be used by reviewers in relation to the criteria listed above is provided in detail under each section below. Please note that every section may be used to assess the consideration of sex and gender, the level of patient engagement, and the level of knowledge user engagement in the project.

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Steps and Instructions Required for Completing Your Online HSRF Targeted Calls Application

Step 1: Enter Full Application Summary Details
1. Full Application Summary Page
2. Identification of Sub Priority and Cross-Cutting Components
3. Contact Details
Step 2: Enter Project Details
4a. Abstract
4b. Proposal Summary
5. Rationale
6a. Project Design and Methodology
6b. Milestones and Deliverables and Expected Outcomes
7. Declaration of Funding Overlap and Alignment with Leveraged Funding Opportunities from Other Sources
8. KTE and Implementation Plan
9. Partners and Capacity-Building
10. Governance Model
11. Bio-sketch of Project Lead and Co-Lead, Where Applicable
12a. Data Access Plan, Where Applicable
12b. Data Sharing Plan, Where Applicable
Step 3: Enter Budget Information
13. Overall Budget Justification
14. Budget Template

Step 4: Upload Attachments

Step 5: Review and Submit

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Step 1: Enter Full Application Summary Details

1. Full Application Summary Page (400 words)

The Full Application Summary page is one way the MOHLTC identifies and manages your application during the review process. Please provide the information requested to complete these sections.

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2. Identification of Sub Priority and Cross-Cutting Components (400 words)

Select the sub-priority and cross-cutting component(s) that the research project will address. The main priority must be the same as the main priority selected in the NOI submission.

Definitions for the cross-cutting components can be found in the HSRF Guidelines.

Definitions for the Sub-Priorities are:

Mental Health and Addictions

  1. Improving services for transitional age youth
    This sub-priority includes identifying effective, community-based interventions, supports and services to prevent, reduce harms, or address mental health and addiction problems including gambling in transitional age youth ages 16 to 25. This may include school/campus-based programs, social services, and community programs that prevent, intervene early, reduce harms, or treat mental illness or addiction in this priority population.
  2. Improving transitions into, within and out of mental health and addictions services
    This sub-priority focuses on identifying best practices and improving transitions into, within and out of mental health and addictions services for children, youth and adults, including how to create effective linkages and integration among sectors. Examples: i) transitions between community mental health and/or addictions providers; ii) transitions from mental health and addictions services to other health services (including primary care) and/or social, home and community support services; iii) transitions from community and social services (such as harm reduction programs) to mental health and/or addiction treatment and other health services (including primary care); iv) transitions to community mental health and/or addictions services after incarceration.
  3. Programs to delay, prevent, or intervene early in youth and young adult cannabis use
    This sub-priority focuses on preventing, delaying, reducing harms or intervening early for cannabis use in youth and young adults (youth being under 19 and young adults 19+), which is a key element of Ontario’s integrated prevention and harm reduction approach to cannabis legalization. This includes understanding effective interventions (i.e., community, family/parenting, school, sports, or other programs) and their efficacy in Ontario.
  4. Concurrent disorders
    This sub-priority focuses on the program design considerations and policy levers that can improve outcomes for individuals with or at risk of developing co-occurring mental illness(es) and/or addiction(s) including gambling. A subset of individuals experience multiple concurrent mental illnesses and/or addictions that are often addressed as separate and singular issues (i.e., one individual seeing a problem gambling counsellor for a gambling disorder, a psychotherapist for anxiety issues, and at risk of developing a cannabis misuse disorder). In order to best serve these individuals, it is important to understand the extent and types of co-occurring disorders, common or distinct risk and protective factors, and how patient experiences and outcomes can be improved through changes in health policies and programs.
  5. Systems integration
    Mental health/illness and addiction programs are a focus for organizations in a variety of sectors (research, health care, public health, social services, financial services, community planners, non-profits, etc.). This sub-priority focuses on understanding the roles and impacts of different sectors related to mental health and how organizations across sectors can effectively collaborate to maximize mental health promotion and prevent or treat mental illness and addiction(s).
  6. Gambling, gaming and technology
    Technology has changed the gambling industry to make gambling more accessible and appealing. This sub-priority focuses on understanding the impact of technology on gambling habits and harms and identifying effective interventions, supports and services that minimize gambling harms.

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3. Contact Details (1,200 words)

Provide contact details for the Project Lead, Co-Lead (if applicable), authorized signatory from the sponsoring institution, the Knowledge Translation and Exchange / Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) contact, and the confirmed Knowledge User. The following information is required for each contact:

The Project Lead cannot change from the NOI submission. A Co-Lead can be added (either from the same organization as the Project Lead, or from a different organization). Please include contact details for a confirmed Knowledge User here. You will have an opportunity to identify other confirmed Knowledge Users under Section 9 - Partners and Capacity Building of the Full Application.

No signatures are required to be submitted with the Full Application. By completing this section, the individuals identified in the authorization section (Project Lead, Project Co-Lead - if applicable, and the authorized signatory of the sponsoring institution) acknowledge that the information and documentation provided may be shared with MOHLTC staff and others for the purpose of administering the HSRF Targeted Calls award.

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Step 2: Enter Project Details

4a. Abstract (200 words)

Provide a brief description (maximum 200 words) of the proposed project using non-technical language. The information provided in section 4a may be made available to the public and may be used, in whole or in part, in press releases or similar communication material if the proposal is funded.

The abstract should provide information identifying:

For examples of lay abstracts, refer to the summaries of the ministry's HSRF Targeted Calls recipients.

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4b. Proposal Summary (400 words)

State the goals and objectives of the proposed research project. Statements detailing short and long-term objectives should be clear and concise (i.e., one short sentence for each objective). Use as few technical terms as possible. If technical terms are necessary, a non-technical explanation of the term must be provided.

The research question(s) that will be addressed must be clearly identified. If a project will address multiple research questions, 2-3 sample research questions should be included along with 1-2 lines of text on the methods that will be used to address each research question.

The information provided in section 4b will be used to evaluate whether the issue addressed by the research project is important and actionable in Ontario’s health system (i.e., relevant to policy/program development) and whether the issue addressed by the research project and its potential outcomes are important to people with lived experience and/or their family and friends.

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5. Rationale (800 words)

This section should provide the overall rationale for the project. Specifically, the applicants should specify the gaps in current knowledge, research methodology, knowledge translation strategies, policy or practice that create the need for the proposed project. Use as few technical terms as possible. If technical terms are necessary, a non-technical explanation of the term must be provided.

Up to 2 pages of references for in-text citations may be added as an attachment.

The information provided in section 5 will be used to assess:

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6a. Project Design and Methodology (1,200 words)

This section should outline how the project objectives identified in section 4b will be achieved by describing the project design and methods. Use as few technical terms as possible. If technical terms are necessary, a non-technical explanation of the term must be provided.

Applicants are encouraged to incorporate inter-disciplinary approaches and involve Knowledge Users throughout the project. In particular, applicants are required to describe how patients/clients (individuals, groups and/or organizations) will be involved in this work (e.g., patient/client-specified outcome measures, member of the review committee), if applicable. Applicants are also encouraged to include considerations of populations with specific health needs in their research design (e.g., identifying language and language preferences in the research design). Please refer to the “Before you Begin” section D for links to resources on patient engagement.

For all projects that will include/focus on Indigenous peoples, applicants are strongly encouraged to ensure the project is Tri-Council Policy Statement and OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) compliant prior to the submission of the Full Application.

The research question(s) addressed must be clearly stated. For each question, provide a detailed description of the research design and methodology, including relevant details such as data collection tools and methods, sampling frames and sample sizes (with justification for sample sizes), outcome measures, and statistical analyses (including any qualitative analyses).

Any studies proposing an intervention must sufficiently describe the mechanism of action (i.e., the process by which X [the intervention] has an effect on Y). For multifaceted interventions, the individual components must be clearly delineated and justified using appropriate evidence (either in totality or for each individual component).

In cases where administrative data will be used, this section should state the intended data source, and detail on the data access plan should be included in Section 12. ICES data-sets, for example, are subject to special governance procedures to release specific data related to Indigenous peoples.

This information will be used to assess the scientific rigour of the project design and methodology.

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6b. Milestones, Deliverables, and Expected Outcomes (800 words)

Describe 2-5 major milestones and deliverables per year for each of the objectives identified for the project in section 4b. These should be examples of tangible accomplishments, demonstrating progress towards the stated objectives of the project. Provide an estimated date of completion for each milestone/deliverable identified. Use as few technical terms as possible. If technical terms are necessary, a non-technical explanation of the term must be provided.

Milestones and deliverables for research projects may include: specific research activities; expected dates of completion for obtaining Research Ethics Board (REB) approval; recruitment of team members; data collection; anticipated dates for interim findings, major meetings/forums with partners and Knowledge Users; a targeted number of peer-review publications and interim and final reports. Research projects should also include at least one KTE milestone or deliverable for each year.

In cases where publication in a peer-reviewed journal is a milestone, please note that the findings of ministry funded research must be publicly accessible at no cost, e.g., in an open access journal, in a report posted on the internet or in a free full text author's manuscript.

This section should also identify up to 3 of the main expected outcomes resulting from the project. For each outcome identified, applicants should provide a proposed plan on how each outcome will be documented and evaluated.

The identification of outcomes of the project differs from milestones and deliverables, which emphasizes the processes and outputs of the project. Outcomes focus on the expected impacts of the project and how the applicant(s) proposes to evaluate each impact. Information on what made the impact (e.g., type of product/process), who will be impacted (e.g., targeted group), how the targeted group will be impacted (e.g., the benefit) and the level of the impact (e.g., regional, provincial) should be provided.

Examples of potential outcomes include: enhanced patient/client/consumer awareness and knowledge, enhanced health care services access and usage; new products or processes adopted by health care providers; and change in program or policy process (e.g., cited as the basis for new regulation or legislation).

The information provided in section 6b will be used to evaluate:

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7. Declaration of Funding Overlap and Alignment with Leveraged Funding Opportunities from Other Sources (400 words)

This section should identify sources of funding currently in place that directly support this project or elements of this project. If multiple sources are contributing to this project, clearly describe how the HSRF funding will be used to expand scope of research and/or demonstrate that the sources of funding will not overlap with the HSRF funding from a scientific, budgetary, and staffing perspective.1

This section should also specify sources of leveraged funding opportunities that applicants have already secured (but not yet received) and/or plan to apply for, if successful, by selecting the appropriate sources provided in the online Full Application form. In the space provided, applicants should also provide details on how these funds will be used to promote the sustainability of the HSRF Targeted Calls award by maximizing its impact and benefits while capitalizing on other existing resources (e.g., use leveraged funding to fill budget gaps needed to scale-up the project to access resources not readily available from the HSRF, etc.).

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is a key source of leveraged funding for Ontario researchers. It is recommended that applicants consult CIHR's website for information regarding its research priorities, competitions, initiatives, etc. For instance, the ministry currently provides partner funding for CIHR's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) through the Ontario SPOR SUPPORT Unit (OSSU).

The assessment of this section (or the Full Application in general) is not solely contingent on the applicant's ability to leverage funding but also the strength of the applicant's proposed strategy to obtain and utilize leveraged funding should the project be in a position to bring in leveraged funding.

This information will be used in the assessment of the anticipated productivity or yield and anticipated results and impact of the project are worth the requested investment of public dollars.

1Sources: CIHR Grants and Awards Guide and Supplementary Information for Nature 493, 588-589 (2013)

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8. KTE and Implementation Plan (400 words)

In this section, describe the integrated and end-of-grant KTE strategies, tools, methods, etc., the project will use to disseminate, transfer and exchange knowledge. Applicants should identify target Knowledge User groups and people with lived experience, and describe any tailored strategies to engage with these groups. Applicants must also demonstrate the use of evidence-based approaches, where feasible, when designing their KTE plans. Use as few technical terms as possible. If technical terms are necessary, a non-technical explanation of the term must be provided.

CIHR defines knowledge translation as “the process of summarizing, distributing, sharing and applying knowledge developed by researchers to improve the health of Canadians, and strengthen the health care system through the use of more effective health services, products and standards of practice."

Where applicable, this section should also assess and describe the feasibility of implementing any intervention or policy that may result from the knowledge generated and/or mobilized from the proposed project, as well as its scalability and sustainability (at the regional level or higher). KTE activities funded by the ministry must make a measurable impact on the Ontario health system and further the objectives of the research project.

The information provided in this section will be used to evaluate:

All research projects are also required to use 25% of funding for Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs). This section should describe how the AHRQ process and other KTE activities will ensure that research findings have their maximum possible impact.

Applicants are advised to review the MOHLTC Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQ) Guidelines to learn more about the role of Knowledge Users.

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9. Partners and Capacity Building (800 words)

Provide the information requested to complete this section.

For information on collaborating researchers
List the names and institutional affiliations of up to 5 collaborating researchers and a brief description of the roles, responsibilities, and contributions of each partner in the project team. The team can consist of more than 5 researchers; however, the Full Application only requires information on up to 5 of these members.

For information on Knowledge Users
List the names and institutional affiliations of 1 to 3 Knowledge Users, and a brief explanation of the ways in which the person and his/her organization will benefit from and/or be involved in the research project. For more information about the role of Knowledge Users, see the MOHLTC Applied Health Research Question Guidelines.

For information on capacity building
List up to 5 of the most relevant specific target groups that will be engaged in this work (e.g., students, junior researchers, and other professionals), information on the group's involvement, and the capacity building outcome(s) (e.g., the skills that they will develop). In order to build research and KTE capacity in Ontario, the training and mentoring of new investigators, health professional scientists and KTE specialists is a goal of the HSRF.

For all projects that focus on Indigenous populations, it is strongly recommended that Indigenous communities and/or representative organizations are consulted and/or are key partners in the development of the application and project design.

The information provided in this section will be used to evaluate:

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10. Governance Model (400 words)

Briefly outline the accountability mechanisms and infrastructure the research team will use to ensure that the research and/or KTE project is completed within the appropriate timelines and the anticipated budget, meeting key deliverables, and compliant with requirements outlined in the ministry’s Transfer Payment Accountability Agreement (a contract). This can include details on key decision-making and planning teams within the project, the processes for managing research studies, monitoring progress, optimizing and maintaining collaborations and partnerships, etc.

The information provided in this section will be used to assess:

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11. Bio-sketch of Project Lead and Co-Lead (Where Applicable)

Attach the Project Lead and Co-Lead’s (where applicable) Bio-sketch to the online Full Application form.

The information in the Bio-sketch will be used to assess:

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12a. Data Access Plan - Where Applicable (400 words)

This section is to be used for research projects where there is a plan to access Personal Health Information (PHI) held by the MOHLTC or the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). The purpose of this section is to assess whether the data access plan is feasible. Please note that acceptance of this section by the MOHLTC does not constitute approval to release data.

Provide information detailing how the research team proposes to manage the regulatory and legal requirements associated with accessing PHI.

List all needed databases/datasets from the MOHLTC or ICES, and also identify other data sources (primary and or secondary), and the intended unit of analysis (e.g., individual record level, institution level, geographic area). Confirm Research Ethics Board (REB) approval has been obtained or describe the steps that will be taken to secure REB approval.

Applicants should note that accessing PHI through the MOHLTC or ICES will require an application process separate from the HSRF Targeted Calls competition and therefore, it is recommended that these considerations should be taken into account during planning. Applicants may be required to provide specific information to access data held by the MOHLTC or ICES (where applicable). For example, applicants may be asked to provide a rationale for specific data requested; submit details on how ministry or ICES data will be linked to other data sources, and/or describe the steps proposed for managing consent to ensure compliance with current regulations.

Applicants should leave the page blank in the online application template for Section 12 if no data access plan is presented.

The information in this section will contribute to the assessment of:

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12b. Data Sharing Plan - Where Applicable (400 words)

To leverage and maximize the impact, productivity, and return on investment of data collected under HSRF funding, the ministry is encouraging the broader sharing of data by funded researchers. Data includes primary data, samples, physical collections and other materials created or gathered in the course of work under the HSRF grant. Data sharing plans must also comply with any and all applicable legislation.

Applicants are requested to respond to the following questions. Please specify:

    1. The types of data that will be collected for your project.
    2. With whom this data can be shared
    3. Do you anticipate any specific terms under which the data could be shared?
    4. If you would not be interested in sharing any/all of the data collected under HSRF funding, please explain why.

Section 12b will be used strictly for informational and planning purposes by the ministry regarding its data sharing plans. The information in Section 12b will not be assessed by the Review Panel in their respective evaluations.

Step 3: Enter Budget Information

13. Overall Budget Justification (400 words)

This section should provide an explanation of the appropriateness of the budget (i.e., why is the requested budget realistic and feasible for the conduct of the proposed project?).

This section should also provide an account for any requests that may exceed pre-determined budget constraints, or any other issues that the applicants may want to address that the budget template does not permit (e.g., justifying the need for X to achieve Y).

The information in this section will be used in the evaluation of:

Reviewers may provide recommendations to increase/decrease the proposed budgets based on the information from this section.

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14. Budget

It is recommended that applicants use the Budget Template provided by the ministry to submit the information required. Applicants should refer to the Instructions for the HSRF Budget section of the HSRF website for detailed instructions, constraints, and technical guidance to complete the budget. This information will also be available on the online grant application system.

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Step 4: Upload Attachments

Please attach mandatory and allowable attachments only. All attachments must be submitted as PDF files, with the exception of the budget. MOHLTC will remove all non-allowable attachments before sharing the application with reviewers.

Mandatory Attachments

Allowable Attachments

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Step 5: Review and Submit

Once every section of the online application form is completed, carefully review all components of the application. If any mandatory sections are incomplete, you will be prompted to provide the missing information before you can successfully submit your application.

You will be able to save your application and return to it at any time, prior to the application deadline. You will also be able to preview the full application before you submit.

Review the checklist that is part of the online Full Application. Any section of the Full Application that is completed incorrectly or is incomplete can result in delayed funding.

The ministry has the right to request any changes to the Full Application submission, including the budget(s), prior to awarding the grant, regardless of the Review Panel's decisions.

When you are ready to submit your application, click 'Send'. You will receive a confirmation email from the ministry when your application is received.

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For More Information
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Strategic Policy and Planning Division
Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch
9th Floor Hepburn Block, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 1R3
Tel.: 416-327-7759
E-mail :