Research and Grants Program: Proposal instructions

Program overview


The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is committed to delivering exceptional programs and services for people working and doing business in Ontario. The WSIB facilitates return to work and recovery when a work-related injury or occupational disease occurs. The WSIB’s mandate also includes promoting health and safety in the workplace and providing compensation and other benefits when return to work cannot be achieved.

The Research and Grants Program contributes to the WSIB’s mandate by funding highly practical research and training studies from leading experts. WSIB grants address current and emerging issues and strengthen Ontario’s workers’ compensation system now and in the future.

Program objective and expected outcomes

The objective of the WSIB Research and Grants Program is to enhance workplace injury and illness insurance system outcomes by supporting innovative proposals that help advance our strategic mandate. This is accomplished through highly practical, expert research and training initiatives delivered by professional individuals and organizations that address current and emerging challenges, and strengthen Ontario’s workers’ compensation system now and in the future.

The WSIB Research and Grants Program will award up to $1.6 million in funding for its 2024 Grants competition1. The expectation is that proposals will lead to practical outcomes that can inform programs, policies, and/or products and services for the WSIB and/or stakeholders within the workers’ compensation system.

The WSIB Research and Grants Program accepts the following types of proposals:

1.  Research Proposals

  • Expert research proposals that deliver practical results for the workers’ compensation system
    • Results will lead to policy, program and practice improvements
    • Proposals for systematic reviews will also be considered
  • Workplace-based projects that involve collaborations between the workplace, researchers and organizations
    • Proposals may include implementing completed research, piloting programs, and conducting evaluations to improve outcomes

1 Decisions will be finalized in 2024 and are pending program budget approval.

2.  Training Proposals

  • Initiatives that help people with workplace injuries and illnesses, employers and the workplace safety and compensation system solve long-standing barriers
  • Innovative opportunities that build capacity in the community and offer significant potential to improve compensation system results

Program information

Research and Grants priority areas

The 2024 WSIB Research and Grants Program will focus on research that can help make Ontario the safest place to work. Four considerations for the competition include:

1. how we work
2. how we approach health and safety
3. how we support return-to-work and recovery
4. how we meet our customers' expectations

The Research and Grants Program is committed to supporting the WSIB’s strategic priority of effective management through the operating practices of the program on an ongoing basis. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that align to the topics of interest identified within the 2024 Research and Grants Agenda.

More detailed information about these priority areas is available in the appendix or on the WSIB website. 

Eligibility criteria

Grant proposals fall into two major categories: research grants and training grants. Both proposal types must be highly practical, delivered by leading experts and demonstrate significant potential to improve outcomes for people working in Ontario, employers or the broader compensation system.

1. Who can apply to the WSIB Research and Grants Program?


  • Expert researchers affiliated with an eligible applicant organization:
    • Publicly-funded universities or colleges
    • Public hospitals with a specialized research area
    • Not-for-profit or registered charitable organizations with the capability and capacity to conduct research
    • Canadian non-governmental organizations with the capability and capacity to conduct research
    • Other organizations that have the capability and capacity to conduct research and are not privately owned and operated may also be eligible for a WSIB grant.
  • Master’s or Ph.D. students conducting research at a Canadian institution are eligible to submit a proposal as a Secondary Lead. The Project Lead must be an expert researcher who agrees to supervise the student and accept accountability for grant management and performance.

Private organizations are not eligible to apply for a WSIB research grant as a Project Lead. Private organizations may be identified as a partner or collaborator of an eligible applicant organization.


  • Educators or trainers with a Master’s degree or higher in education, a post-graduate diploma in adult education, or other similar qualifications (with relevant experience and demonstrated successes), highly qualified healthcare professionals including, but not limited to:
    • Physicians
    • Psychologists
    • Nurse practitioners
    • Occupational therapists
  • In all cases, educators, trainers, and healthcare professionals must have specialized workers’ compensation system knowledge and relevant experience in conducting training initiatives or have identified a qualified partner or collaborator to ensure the project team has the necessary expertise to be successful.

Training grants are not intended to replace or supplement the professional vocational rehabilitation services provided through the WSIB Work Reintegration program. Proposals that do not meet these criteria will be deemed ineligible.

Applicants are welcome to engage WSIB staff to help contextualize issues about their grant. Please reach out to for any questions regarding conflict of interest (COI) or staff engagement. 

2. What legislation guides the WSIB Research and Grants Program?

Proposals must be consistent with Section 159(5) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, which provides the WSIB authority to offer grants for research, training and investigations, and in amounts subject to such conditions as the Board considers acceptable.

3. What is the maximum grant length? What is the maximum funding limit per year?

The maximum grant length is two years (24 months). The maximum funding request is up to $150,000/year for a total maximum budget of $300,000. The WSIB does not renew grants for the same grant purpose. Applicant organizations may submit more than one distinct proposal for consideration during each application cycle.

Evaluation criteria

The WSIB Research and Grants Program is two-staged and involves a rigorous and transparent proposal selection process based on pre-established criteria. The evaluation criteria for the initial proposal stage is available in the appendix.

Managing and measuring progress

WSIB grant recipients will be required to regularly report on their progress. Quarterly reports will ensure the WSIB can support recipients in early identification and removal of barriers.

The exact approach to managing and measuring progress will depend on the scope and scale of each project. The WSIB will work with recipients to confirm expectations for managing progress prior to starting grant activities. During the proposal process, you will be provided with an opportunity to outline a proposal timeline that will reasonably allow the WSIB to monitor your progress towards achieving your objectives and outcomes. The WSIB will determine the exact approach to managing and measuring progress in consultation with grant recipients.

Project team descriptions

Project Lead The Project Lead must be based in, or formally affiliated with, an eligible host organization (university, college, hospital, research institute or other qualified not-for-profit organization). The Project Lead will be responsible for managing and monitoring the proposed activities, including administrative and financial responsibility for the grant. The Project Lead is not eligible to receive salary support from a WSIB grant.

Secondary Lead – The Secondary Lead shares responsibility for the grant and, in most cases, should be able to assume Project Lead responsibilities as necessary. The Secondary Lead is not eligible to receive salary support from a WSIB grant.

Co-Applicant – Co-Applicants may or may not have a formal affiliation with the project host organization, but will take responsibility for specific administrative and scientific aspects of the project. Co-Applicants are not eligible to receive salary support from a WSIB grant.

Project Personnel – Project Personnel includes undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants, statisticians, technicians, programmers, analysts, etc., who may contribute to the activities of the Project Lead. Project Personnel may receive salary support or honoraria from the grant in keeping with the funding use restrictions.

Collaborator – The project may include collaborators who are central to the project and not otherwise identified in the categories above. Their role in the proposed activities is to provide a specific service (e.g., access to equipment, training in a specialized technique, statistical analysis, access to a patient population, etc.). Collaborators may be eligible to receive project funds for specified services or resources if it can be demonstrated that their contribution is essential to the work being undertaken and not otherwise available to the project team. Project advisory committee members are generally viewed as collaborators and may not be eligible to receive grant funds for the time they may contribute to the project.

Proposal selection process

The selection process is rigorous, but also considers the time and effort it requires to submit a proposal. The initial proposal is a streamlined opportunity to explain your idea with a focus on plain language delivery of the project overview. The detailed proposal involves submitting more information regarding budget, work plan, project risks, and other key factors. The WSIB only invites selected proposals of interest to continue past the strategic review phase.

Proposal selection process timeline
Timeline Selection process Description

Deadline to submit initial proposal:

Oct 13, 2023

Step 1:

Initial proposal

  • All interested parties submit an initial proposal.
November 10, 2023

Step 2:

Strategic review

  • Initial proposals are evaluated based on pre-established criteria (*see appendix). Candidates will be notified by the end of November if their proposal will be invited to proceed to step 3: Detailed proposal.

Deadline to submit additional information: 

Feb 16, 2024

Step 3:

Detailed proposal (by invitation only)

  • Detailed proposal form will be provided to all candidates invited to continue in the evaluation process
  • Specific information may also be requested to supplement content presented in the initial proposal.


March 2024

Step 4:

Subject matter expert peer review

  • Each proposal is evaluated by WSIB subject matter experts and by external peer reviewers.


April 2024

Step 5:

Final evaluation

  • A panel of senior WSIB leaders conducts a comprehensive review of each proposal and provides funding recommendations to the WSIB’s President & Chief Executive.


May 2024

Step 6:

Executive approval of grants

  • WSIB’s President & Chief Executive Officer reviews recommendations and provides final approvals for grants.

*At any stage during the proposal selection process, the WSIB may request additional information for the purpose of evaluating a proposal.

Submission instructions for initial proposals

All applicants must complete sections 1-7 of the Initial Proposal Form. 

Email an PDF signed copy of the completed proposal to on or before 5:00 p.m. (EST) on October 13, 2023. Hard copies of the application are not required. Digital signatures will be accepted. 

Proposals received after the deadline will not be included in the application and selection process. Incomplete proposals will not be accepted.


Please include references in this section. If required, up to three additional pages of appendices will be allowed to accompany your proposal. Please attach and number the additional pages and clearly identify the section that the pages belong to.

Please note that appendices will be allowed as supporting documentation to the application, but that reviewers are not required to evaluate them. Appendices should not be an extension of application content.

Please contact the WSIB if you have questions regarding the application and selection process.


Additional considerations

Funding use restrictions

Grant recipients are prohibited from using WSIB funds (“Funds”) for the following purposes; and therefore, applicants should ensure these costs are not included in a proposal to the WSIB Research and Grants Program:

Salaries and stipends

The Funds may not be used towards salary support for any key research team member who is a full-time researcher, a full-time faculty member of a college or university, a full-time educator, trainer or healthcare professional, except where (i) the individual receiving such support is compensated entirely from research monies or their salary will be materially reduced as a result of working on the Project, (ii) the salary support will not result in the individual being compensated twice or more for the same work, and (iii) the use of the Funds for this salary support is explicitly identified in Schedule C. Funds may be used towards other Project Team members such as co-ordinators, technical and other support staff. Funds may only be used towards actual direct salaries, not charge out rates (i.e. the amount paid to an employee and specified in the Budget). The WSIB reserves the right to set a ceiling on its contribution to salaries on a classification basis.

If the person for whom support is being requested is a full-time employee of the grant recipient, the Funds may be used towards a salary value based on the number of days or part days that the individual will work on the project and that such amount will not exceed a reasonable amount based on the grant recipient’s regulations, policies, or guidelines.

If a person is to be employed on a contract basis, then Funds can be used towards compensation calculated on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis. The Funds may only be used towards compensation received by the employees and may not include an allowance for overhead and/or benefits.

The Funds may be used towards a salary contribution for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows engaged on the project, provided such amount will not exceed an amount determined by following normal university or college regulations, policy or guidelines.

Employee benefits

Where Funds are permitted to be used towards salary support (in accordance with A.1), no more than 20% of such salary support can be used towards the cost of benefits for employees (e.g., E.I./U.I.C., C.P.P., health benefit coverage).

Indirect or overhead costs

The Funds may not be used towards capital expenditures, overhead costs, maintenance costs, and other incidental expenses. IT hardware or software purchases may not be purchased using the Funds unless they are explicitly identified in Schedule C..

Publications, reports and memberships

The Funds may not be used to purchase subscriptions to or individual copies of scientific journals, computer manuals, books or other publications. The Funds may not be used towards membership fees to societies. However, the Funds may be used towards reasonable costs incurred in the publication of research results, which includes printing material for presentation at conferences, (with acknowledgement of the WSIB) to the extent explicitly set out in the proposed budget and approved by WSIB.


No more than $1,500 of the total Funds may be used to support knowledge and dissemination at a conference (registration and/or publication fees). The funds may not be used towards travel, or accommodation for conferences.

Personnel hiring

The Funds may not be used towards costs associated with hiring of project personnel, including salaries of hiring personnel, advertising costs or travel costs.

Hiring of consultants

The Funds may not be used towards consulting fees. The use of Funds towards any external expert (e.g. a statistician), must be clearly identified within the Proposal and Budget, including a detailed description of their role and compensation.

Administration fees

The Funds may not be used towards administration or tuition fees.

Materials and supplies

The Funds may not be used towards materials and supplies, including office supplies at a fixed rate; they may only be used on an “as used basis.”

Purchase of equipment

No more than 10% of the total Funds may be used towards equipment purchase expenditures. Provided an equipment purchase is explicitly included in the Budget (including a total cost and a per unit cost) and any equipment purchased with the Funds becomes the property of the Grant Recipient.

Travel, meals, accommodation, hospitality, entertainment, gifts

The Funds may not be used for travel, meals, accommodation, hospitality, entertainment or gifts of any kind (“Travel and Related Expenses”) except to the extent such Travel and Related Expenses are expressly included within the Budget and are directly related to Project activity.

The Funds may not be used, under any circumstances, towards (i) entertainment of any kind; (ii) any purchase of alcohol; (iii) costs associated with any incidental expenses while travelling, including tips, dry cleaning, and long distance calls; (iv) gifts, including gifts for investigators and research staff; or (v) Travel and Related Expenses associated with attending meetings at the WSIB’s offices in Toronto, Ontario.

Grant Recipient’s use of Funds towards Travel and Related Expenses shall be subject to the terms and limits (including maximum rates) that are applicable to the WSIB and its employees in the Management Board of Cabinet Travel, Meal, and Hospitality Directive dated January 1, 2020 (as may be amended) (the “Directive”). Where the Directive requires any approvals (including a ministry approval), the Grant Recipient shall seek such approval from the WSIB’s Representative in writing in advance.

Without limiting the foregoing, to the extent Funds are approved for use towards travel: (i) all travel must be done in the most practical and economical manner possible; and (ii) if air travel is authorized, flights must be economy class.

The WSIB reserves the right to place additional restrictions on the use of Funds towards Travel and Related Expenses, upon giving reasonable notice to the Grant Recipient.

Conflict of interest

The applicant organization must acknowledge if there is a perceived, potential or actual conflict of interest (a “Conflict of Interest”) associated with the proposal. The applicant organization must also promptly inform the WSIB in writing if a Conflict of Interest becomes known at any time.

A Conflict of Interest includes, without limitation, the following:

  • situations, circumstances, or conduct that could give a grant candidate an unfair advantage during the proposal selection process or compromise the ability of the candidate to perform its obligations under a contract with the WSIB
  • the offer or giving of a benefit of any kind, by or on behalf of a grant candidate to anyone, employed by, or otherwise connected with the WSIB, and
  • additional circumstances described in the WSIB’s Code of Business Ethics and Behaviour (available at

The WSIB reserves the right to:

  • solely determine whether any situation or circumstance constitutes a Conflict of Interest
  • require grant candidates participating in the proposal selection process to declare any Conflict of Interest
  • disqualify grant candidates from the proposal selection process due to a Conflict of Interest, and/or
  • prescribe the manner in which a grant candidate should resolve a Conflict of Interest in order to avoid disqualification.

Confidentiality and freedom of information

The information submitted in connection with this proposal may be disclosed by the WSIB in accordance with FIPPA (the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.F.31, as amended).

Intellectual property rights

A component of the grant agreement will be provisions that provide the WSIB with a non-exclusive, perpetual and irrevocable right to use, reproduce, display and distribute copies and prepare derivative works of all material produced from the grant activities. The WSIB may do so in any manner it considers useful or helpful to the administration of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

Grant agreement

The WSIB intends to notify successful applicant organizations in Spring 2024. Successful applicant organizations must complete a grant agreement satisfactory to the WSIB (“Grant Agreement”) prior to receiving grant funds.

Program contact information

If you have questions regarding the WSIB Research and Grants Program, please contact: 

The WSIB appreciates the time and effort it takes to submit a proposal. Thank you for your dedication to the workers’ compensation system of Ontario.


2024 Research and Grants agenda

Research and Grants priorities

The 2024 Research and Grants Program will focus on applied research that can help make Ontario the safest place to work. Four considerations for the competition include:

1. How we work
2. How we approach health and safety
3. How we support return-to-work and recovery
4. How we meet our customers' expectations

The Research and Grants Program is committed to supporting the WSIB’s strategic priority of effective management through the operating practices of the program on an ongoing basis.

How we work

Where we work and how we interact in the work place is evolving. It is important to understanding how the changing approach to work will affect work injuries and illnesses. Topics of interest include:

  • What factors of flexible work arrangements and remote-work impact work-related injuries and illnesses?
  • What are the effects of compressed weeks or longer work hours on occupational health and safety?
  • How will climate change (air quality. extreme heat, etc.) affect occupational injuries and illnesses? 
  • How will the changing labour market impact future claim types and volumes?
    • What populations are most vulnerable to work-related injuries or illnesses?
    • How will the gig-economy impact future claim types and volumes?

How we approach health and safety

Ensuring health and safety in the workplace is a critically important issue - organizations that invest in occupational safety perform better, reduce turnover, and help people do their jobs more effectively. Understanding how to adapt new processes and address structures that are lacking will help Ontario become the safest and healthiest place to work. Topics of interest include:

  • What are innovative approaches for the prevention of injury, disease and death?
  • What are effective programs, guides, and tools to support occupational health and safety in remote and hybrid-work environments?
  • What are the unique occupational health and safety risks of the gig-economy?
    • What guides, tools and programs can support risk reduction in the gig-economy?
  • What are effective programs and guides to support safe, effective, and productive business operations against future pandemics?
  • What are effective behavioural interventions that support practice change and build capacity within Ontario employers to improve health and safety practices?
  • What are effective self-screening tools and technologies to improve early recognition of occupational injury hazards?
  • What opportunities exist to link existing data within the workers’ compensation system to identify risk, assess practice change and improve outcomes?
    • Can new data sets be created to better monitor the development of future occupational disease and illness?

How we support return-to-work and recovery

Delivery of effective and efficient care can support early and sustained return-to-work and recovery following a workplace injury or illness. It is important to leverage research to support the WSIB and workers’ compensation system to improve services and support Ontario health care providers. Topics of interest include:

  • What are practical tools, programs, and services that can build capacity of Ontario businesses to work with people who have become injured or ill, and the compensation system to support return-to-work and recovery outcomes?
    • Support for recovery and return-to-work in work-related mental stress injuries populations are of interest 
  • What skills and training are needed to support vocational rehabilitation and work reintegration in the evolving workforce and economy?
    • What programs, services, and tools are effective at improving employment outcomes in the open labour market for those with work-related injuries? 
  • What are effective tools, interventions and disability management models to support sustainable return-to-work outcomes?
  • What are evidence-based approaches for diagnosis, rehabilitation and service delivery for health care providers working within the workers’ compensation system? 
  • What accommodations and skills are required to support early and sustained return-to-work in an aging workforce? 
  • How can the WSIB support early and sustained return-to-work in a work-from-home or hybrid workplace?
  • What are effective communication tools and programs to support case managers/disability management professionals in early identification and intervention of psycho-social and workplace factors to support early return-to-work and recovery? 
  • Populations of interest: public safety personnel, mental health injuries, vulnerable workers.

How we meet our customers’ expectations

Customer expectations have evolved to include personalized interactions, proactive services, and connected experiences across multiple channels. Understanding the customer will help streamline processes and deliver high quality services. Topics of interest include:

  • What are practical tools, programs, services or interventions that may support Ontario businesses be safer and healthier work places? 
  • What is the preferred approach for people and businesses to receive health information for the purpose of education and action?
    • What are characteristics of a trusted health message? 
  • How can we improve how health care workers interact with the workers’ compensation system?

The WSIB cannot actively support recruitment or refer individuals to a program for the purpose of a grant project.

The use of WSIB administrative data can be requested for the purpose of a grant project. To strengthen a proposal, prospective researcher(s) should consider how requested data may be linked to other data sets outside of the WSIB to create insights otherwise unavailable to internal analytics.

Initial proposal evaluation criteria

Initial proposals will be evaluated based on their relevance to the WSIB and/or stakeholders within the workers’ compensation system. An emphasis is placed on the practicality and business value of the proposal.

The evaluation process also considers reputational, financial and operational risk to the WSIB. This assessment is inclusive of any partners or collaborators identified in the proposal.

When developing the proposal, please note the following criteria will be considered as key elements of the evaluation:

  • Is the proposal addressing real issues facing the WSIB and/or the workers’ compensation system?
  • How will the proposal ensure the objectives and priorities outlined remain relevant to the business upon completion of the study? 
  • How will the proposal generate meaningful change upon completion of the study?
  • Will the proposal generate data and/or information that can impact practices, programs or policies within the WSIB and/or workers compensation system?
  • Will the proposal general data and/or information that can impact business activities and evidenced-based decisions within the WSIB and/or workers compensation system?

While it is important to ensure the proposed approach and methodology being presented aligns to the objectives of the proposal, a more thorough examination will be conducted for those invited to the second stage of the competition.