The Hill Times: Academic research underpins sound policy

Alejandro Adem, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and former CEO and scientific director at Mitacs, writes about his concern with the growing trend for questionable online sources to inform public opinion that in turn may affect important policy decisions.

Canadian youth access mental health support from evidence-informed policy

Mental health changes over time, even more so than physical health. It is deeply influenced by our relationships with our friends, family, colleagues, and our general environment — making each person’s concerns unique. According to the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, suicide has become the ninth leading cause of death in Canada, with British Columbia holding the highest rate of hospitalization due to mental illness and substance use. Research suggests that the social stigma that surrounds mental health prevents 40 percent of people from seeking proper care.

Do I need to have a secured postdoc position to apply?

No, the program is open to all PhD holders from any discipline, including faculty affiliated with a Canadian university.

Can I apply to the fellowship if I am finishing my degree after the application deadline but before the fellowship starts?

Yes, you are eligible to apply if all the requirements of your PhD are complete before September of the fellowship year. In certain cases, a successful fellow may negotiate a later start date with the host office if a thesis defense is scheduled in early September.

How do I prepare a competitive fellow application?

Mitacs encourages applicants to read all sections of the CSPF web page and application webform to ensure an understanding of the program, the eligibility requirements, and the application process. Applicants should allow enough time to develop comprehensive, well-presented statements of interest, and other documents that are free of errors and typos. We suggest contacting references as early as possible so that they have time prepare thoughtful letters of reference. Any submitted documents or filled in text fields should not exceed the mandated page or word limit. Fellows can refer to the Fellow Guidelines for a Successful Application for more detailed information.

When will I get to see the available host position descriptions?

Due to the concurrent double-blind call cycle process, hosts submit their applications at the same time as fellows, and therefore Mitacs is unable to provide information about open CSPF positions. Fellows will be given a copy of the position descriptions in advance of any interviews that they have been selected for by the host office. 

Fellows and hosts can also review the Look Book for examples of the kind of work fellows may participate in. Fellows are also encouraged to read through our news releases from past years to see which hosts have participated, as we often have repeat hosts.


How many fellowships are awarded?

The number of fellowships available varies based on the number of host applications received. Mitacs has offered an average of 20-25 fellowships per year since opening the program to both the federal and provincial governments. Please see our Matching tab in Program Administration for a detailed breakdown of the number of fellowships each year. 

Why are there fewer fellowships than host applications in previous years of the program?

Hosts may apply to the program and learn about budgetary or priority changes later in the process affecting their ability to continue with the fellowship. Hosts also occasionally do not find a candidate who meets their needs and do not continue with the fellowship, or their chosen candidate will decline the fellowship offer for various reasons.

Why are there no fellowships being offered in British Columbia this year?

We work with our government partners on an annual basis to offer our programming.  As priorities shift there may be government partners and/ or specific host offices who participate intermittently (ie. may participate one year but not the next).  For 2020-21 the Government of B.C. will not be participating. 

Will there be fellowships offered in cities other than Ottawa, Quebec City, Montreal, or Winnipeg this year?

One of the key aspects of the program is the cohort model in which the fellows move through the fellowship experience together. We work with our federal and provincial government partners on an annual basis to offer fellowships as a cohort that allows fellows to build a network of peers.  We also occasionally have host offices who pilot the program in cities other than Ottawa (as is the case with Winnipeg this year). While some locations may change from year to year, in general the host cities are determined based on the current participating partners in order to facilitate the cohort model.

Why is Mitacs collecting information about my gender or other diversity-related categories?

Mitacs collects self-identification information for reporting to funders, for program planning and development, and for an accurate understanding of equity representation of underrepresented groups. Answering these questions is optional, and applicants can choose all items that apply. The information is collected in aggregate and not linked to individuals. It will not be used as part of the adjudication process.

Our definitions are drawn from the federal and provincial government offices, such as Statistics Canada, government legislation such as the Employment Equity Act, as well as associations representing underrepresented groups, such as the National Education Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). If you have questions or concerns, please contact

  • Gender refers to the gender that a person internally feels (‘gender identity’ along the gender spectrum) and/or the gender a person publicly expresses (‘gender expression’) in their daily life, including at work, while shopping or accessing other services, in their housing environment or in the broader community. A person’s current gender may differ from the sex a person was assigned at birth (male or female) and may differ from what is indicated on their current legal documents. A person’s gender may change over time.
  • An Indigenous person in Canada is a person who identifies with First Nations (Status/Non-Status), Métis or Inuit, cultural, and/or ancestral background.
  • A person in a visible minority group is someone (other than an Indigenous person) who is non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.
  • A person with a disability refers to impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which one lives. Overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities may require interventions to remove environmental and social barriers.

How will I know that Mitacs has received my application?

Applicants will receive an automatic acknowledgement that their applications have been received and do not need to follow up with the program team. The applications will undergo a comprehensive adjudication process and those who have submitted an incomplete application will be notified.

What happens if one or both of my letters of reference arrive late or do not arrive at all?

All required documents must be submitted by the competition deadline. Applications with one or no letters of reference are incomplete and will not be considered for this round of fellowships. A Mitacs representative will contact you if your letters of reference have not arrived by the competition close.

When will I receive notification of my application status? When will I know if I’ve made it to the semi-finalist list?

Fellow adjudication completes in April 2020. Fellows will be notified of their application status during that month. Please note that not every applicant on the semi-finalist list will be contacted for an interview.

How does Mitacs evaluate my application?

Fellow applications are adjudicated through a competitive call cycle through winter and spring in advance of the fellowship cohort start date in September. Please see our Adjudication tab for more information on how fellow applications are adjudicated.

Will Mitacs provide feedback on my application once submitted?

No. Due to the individualized nature of the adjudication and matching processes, Mitacs cannot provide specific timelines about application status or feedback on the application itself. All fellow applicants will be informed whether they have been shortlisted as semi-finalists to the program as soon as practicable.

Can I reapply for a fellowship if I am not matched?

Yes. Mitacs does not impose a limit on the number of times an eligible candidate may apply to the program. If you have not been selected as a fellow you may apply again in a subsequent application call.

Is it possible to start the fellowship in any other month besides September?

No. Mitacs requires that the fellowship cycle is conducted in a single cohort per year.

Does Mitacs or the government host office cover the cost of my relocation?

No. Successful fellows must assume the cost of relocation.

Can I work remotely? Do I need to move to the physical location of my host office?

All successful fellows are required to work from the location of their host office during their fellowship. The cohort model of the program is a crucial part of the fellowship.

Are the professional training and networking events mandatory?

Yes. These opportunities provided by Mitacs are an integral element to the program and build on the hands-on learning of the host office position.


All submitted applications are reviewed to ensure that prospective fellows and host positions meet the program eligibility criteria.

Once fellow applications and host positions are adjudicated, all shortlisted semi-finalist applications will be presented to eligible host offices to self-select fellow candidates for interviewing. Following the interview period, selected fellows and host offices will rank their choices for Mitacs to facilitate fellowship matching. Please see the Matching tab for more information on the matching process.    

Fellow Adjudication

Fellow applications are adjudicated as part of a competitive call cycle through winter and spring in advance of the fellowship cohort start date in September.

All fellow applications are reviewed through a two-stage process.

1. Applications are reviewed for minimum eligibility requirements

  • Please refer to the Eligibility tab for more information on fellow eligibility requirements

2. Once minimum eligibility requirements are met, fellow applications are sent to a Fellow Adjudication Committee made up of past Canadian Science Policy Fellows to shortlist suitable candidates as semi-finalists

  • All applications are vetted for any potential conflict of interest with adjudication committee members
  • Each application is reviewed by at least two separate members of the adjudication committee
  • Adjudication committee members are asked to evaluate fellow applications based on research distinctions, leadership attributes, communication skills, and a commitment to the fellowship’s professional development opportunities and objectives
  • Prospective fellows are evaluated using points-based criteria and review scores are calibrated to ensure consistent scoring is applied across members of the adjudication committee
  • Based on the review scores of the adjudication committee, a shortlist of fellow applicants is presented to participating host offices to select candidates for interviewing  

Host Adjudication

All host applications are reviewed by an internal Mitacs committee to ensure that prospective fellowship positions meet the program requirements. Applications are reviewed in accordance with the following adjudication criteria: 

1. Is the focus of the policy position clear?

  • Are the policy issues, questions or challenges that the fellow will be working on clearly defined?
  • Does the position involve policy processes? (e.g. problem framing, policy formulation, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation)
  • Does the position include policy activities? (e.g. preparing briefing and speaking notes, senior decision-maker briefings, supporting the work of committees, stakeholder meetings, and/or consultations)

2. Is there a clear value-add for the position?

  • Are the fellow’s key responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Is the work appropriate for someone at a PhD level?
  • Is there a value-add for the fellow in terms of skills development or exposure to government work?

3. Is there adequate support for the fellow to be successful in the position?

  • Does the application reference mentoring or guidance throughout the fellowship, with a specific person in mind?
  • Is there a clear accountability/reporting structure for the fellow in the application?
  • Does the application reference any opportunities to engage in a wide range of internal and external activities, professional development, government training etc.? 

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.


The matching process begins with host-fellow interviews. Following adjudication, all shortlisted fellow applications will be presented to eligible host offices to select candidates for interviewing.

1. Eligible host offices self-select candidates from the shortlist of fellow semi-finalists
Eligible host offices will self-select candidates that they wish to interview by filtering through a list of shortlisted fellow applications.

Host offices may choose to narrow their selection of suitable candidates by filtering for (e.g.):

  • Location
  • Working ability of language(s) spoken
  • Academic specialization
  • Policy skills and competencies 

Host offices will have access to the complete fellow application forms, and may wish to review the academic awards, past research experience, leadership experience, communication skills and a statement of interest, among other fields, for potential candidates.

2. Interviewing period
Host offices are invited to request the contact information of any shortlisted fellows they wish to interview from Mitacs. There are no restrictions on how many interviews a host office can request, however, we recommend selecting a minimum of three (3) candidates, where possible, to maximize potential matches.

Mitacs will contact the selected fellows and share the host office position description in advance of the interview.

Hosts and fellows will set up an interview at mutual availability. Hosts must be prepared to accommodate virtual interviews for fellows that may be outside of the host office city. Hosts and potential fellows should note that there are no funds available from Mitacs to accommodate travel for in-person interviews. 

3. Matching
Following the interview period, selected fellows and host offices will confidentially rank their choices for Mitacs to facilitate fellowship matches. We encourage all participants to provide as many rankings as possible to maximize potential matches.

Once all fellow and host rankings are submitted, Mitacs will facilitate matches to maximize the number of fellowship opportunities and to generate top ranking matches, where possible. Please note that fellows and hosts may not be matched with their first choice. 

In order to maintain the confidentiality of the ranking process, fellows and host offices should not discuss their ranking decisions.

Matching Statistics


A detailed description of this process and of the fellowship cycle in general can be found in the Participant Primer

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.


During the fellowship cycle (September – August), fellows are considered full-time personnel of their host offices. Fellows must be physically located within host offices full time, and are expected to relocate at their own expense, as needed. 

Fellows must:

  • Adhere to rules and guidelines of the host office, particularly regarding privacy and confidentiality in their work
  • Fulfill all responsibilities of their fellowship position in accordance with their signed employment contract
  • Participate in all program training and events facilitated by Mitacs
  • Complete surveys for training and events facilitated by Mitacs
  • Complete three program surveys during the fellowship
  • Submit a Final Report summarizing the impact of their fellowship

Fellows should receive remuneration that reflects their qualifications as a PhD holder and is commensurate with comparable employment within the public service, typically in the range of $70,000–$80,000 per year. Fellows who are faculty members may receive this remuneration as a stipend to cover their housing and living expenses while at the host location.


Host offices must provide full-time 12-month fellowship at a host office location within the fellowship annual cohort cycle (September – August), in accordance with the approved Mitacs Canadian Science Policy position.

Hosts offices must: 

  • Provide remuneration that reflects the qualifications of a PhD holder and is commensurate with comparable employment within the public service, typically in the range of $70,000–$80,000 per year
  • Provide any additional benefits that are afforded to employees
  • Provide the necessary management, support, and resources to ensure success and appoint a designated host supervisor to guide the fellow
  • Accommodate the fellow's participation in program activities, such as professional development and networking sessions which will require time off from their daily duties* 

*If the fellow is working in a location other than Ottawa, the host must make arrangements to facilitate the fellow’s participation in the cohort model. Video conferencing for training is not available at this time. 

Hosts may also be invited to participate in some of the fellowship activities including Orientation in September and the final capstone event, Presenting with Impact in July of the following year.

Additionally, hosts are expected to respond to the program surveys sent by Mitacs and provide any required documentation as laid out in the Terms and Conditions of the program. 


Mitacs is responsible for the design and delivery of the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, including managing the call cycle, supporting the annual fellowship cohort, and collecting reporting.

In delivering the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, Mitacs will:

  • Administer the calls for host and fellow applications
  • Manage the adjudication for all applications
  • Facilitate the matching process
  • Communicate program information and requirements to participants during the fellowship cycle

Working with our partners, Mitacs also designs and deliver the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program’s professional development training and networking events.  

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

Throughout the fellowship cycle, Mitacs expects all program participants to participate in program evaluation, by completing surveys and submitting a Final Report where applicable. The findings from these tools are used to monitor the program’s success and identify areas for improvement.

Fellows must submit routine reporting throughout the fellowship cycle to support CSPF program improvements, and for marketing purposes where permission has been granted. Specifically, fellows must:  

  • Attend all mandatory training sessions and submit post-training surveys through the CSPF online learning management system, EDGE
  • Complete three programmatic surveys for feedback collection: a pre-fellowship survey, mid-fellowship survey and end-of-fellowship survey
  • Submit a Final Report summarizing the policy activities carried out during the fellowship. Fellows will be asked to include details on the achievement of their fellowship goals as defined in their Fellowship Impact Plan  

Government host offices must submit routine reporting throughout the fellowship cycle, including:

  • Completing three surveys for feedback collection: a pre-fellowship survey, mid-fellowship survey and end-of-fellowship survey
  • Providing fellow salary information three times per year: once prior to fellowship start, once within 30 days of fiscal year-end (March 31st), and once within 30 days of the end of the fellowship confirming the total amount paid to the fellow

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

Collection of Personal Information and Consent Policy
All personal information collected as part of the submission and review process for the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship (CSPF) is subject to privacy legislation and Mitacs Privacy Policy for Program Participants. For a description of Mitacs’ commitment to protect the personal information provided by program applicants, please see

Information supplied as part of a fellow application to the CSPF program will be made available to Mitacs staff responsible for managing the application, identifying appropriate reviewers, administering and monitoring fellowships, compiling statistics, and evaluating the program. Information will also be made available to internal and/or external reviewers and to government host offices participating in the fellowship. All reviewers are required to commit to keep the application information confidential. 

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

Please note: Mitacs does not currently offer renewals or second-year fellowships. Current and past fellows are not eligible to apply for a subsequent year of the program.

See our How to Apply tab for more information on how to apply for a fellowship.

To be considered for a CSPF fellowship, eligible applicants must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident*
  • Hold a PhD in any academic discipline at the start of the fellowship
  • Participate full-time in a 12-month fellowship at the host office
  • Secure accommodation in the host city and relocate to their host office as needed
  • Negotiate a leave of absence from their current employer, as applicable
  • Meet any additional requirements of their hosts, including (but not limited to) security clearance requirements
  • Fellowships cannot be held concurrently with other Mitacs awards. If you are currently participating in a Mitacs program, whether as an Intern, Postdoctoral Fellow, Academic Supervisor, or representative of an Industrial Partner, the award term end date must be no later than August 31, 2020

* Please note that Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status is required to obtain a security clearance with a host office to begin a fellowship. All applicants must have Canadian citizenship or permanent residency prior to the start of the interview process (May 2020) to be considered for the 2020-21 fellowship.

In addition to the requirements listed above, faculty applicants must also:

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

See our How to Apply tab for more information on how to apply for a fellowship.

To host a CSPF fellow, host offices must:

  • Be an eligible federal or provincial government office:
    • Government of Canada
    • Government of Manitoba
    • Government of Quebec
    • City of Montreal
  • Provide remuneration and employee benefits to the fellow, in the range of $70,000-$80,000 through an employment contract
  • Physically host the fellow at the appropriate office space
  • Accommodate fellow participation in Mitacs professional development opportunities, including travel costs should the fellow be located outside of Ottawa
  • Provide mentoring and guidance to the fellow throughout the fellowship, particularly during the onboarding phase

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

All Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship positions must offer full-time employment to a matched fellow for 12 months at a participating host office location.

Eligible CSPF positions must:

  • Offer a 12-month fellowship to a PhD holder in a host office location
  • Provide remuneration and employee benefits to the fellow in the range of $70,000-$80,000 through an employment contract
  • Be a policy-focused position addressing a clearly defined challenge that requires the advanced competencies and skills of a PhD holder
  • Demonstrate a clear reporting and mentoring structure for the fellow
  • Outline the processes of the host office (accountability practices, mentorship, or other professional opportunities, etc.) that can support the success of the fellowship

Download a sample host position here.

See our How to Apply tab for more information on how to apply for a fellowship.

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

The Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship places PhD holders in government host offices for a 12-month immersion into the policy-making process. Fellows apply their academic training, critical thinking, and analytical skills to support evidence-informed decision-making that addresses policy challenges within participating federal and provincial host offices. Hosts gain valuable science-based knowledge and build the professional skills of participating fellows.

We welcome application submissions from prospective fellows and hosts on an annual call cycle running from fall throughout winter.  

The fellowship aims to:

  • Create mutually beneficial relationships between government decision-makers and academic researchers in support of policy challenges in Canada
  • Enhance science communication, collaboration, and capacity in support of evidence-informed policy making
  • Equip academic researchers with skills to address policy challenges while learning about government
  • Contribute to a national network of science policy expertise across academia, government, not-for-profit organizations, and industry

By participating in the fellowship, fellows get the training and first-hand experience needed to address challenges of national and provincial public importance. Through the fellowship, fellows:

  • Work full-time in a participating host office for 12-months (September-August) at a salary of $70,000-$80,000
  • Attend professional development training and networking opportunities with their peers throughout the year
  • Learn about policy-making in the public service through professional hands-on experience
  • Apply their academic expertise and skills to public issues of concern 

Host offices provide positions to fellows that support key policy challenges in their departments. By participating, hosts:

  • Provide a range of policy tasks to their fellows, such as policy development, stakeholder engagement, and creating and maintaining key policy documents
  • Grow their access to specialized expertise and the most up-to-date knowledge available in academia
  • Increase the policy capacity within their department
  • Support a growing body of researchers uniquely trained to address key policy challenges

Want to learn more about science policy? Download our Science Policy Briefing here

Curious about our past CSPF fellowships? Review our Look Book for examples of how participants have contributed to the Canadian science policy landscape. 

You can also read about our past cohorts in our yearly news releases.


If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

As part of the CSPF program, Mitacs provides professional development training for fellows throughout the year, as well as opportunities to network with stakeholders from the science policy community through invitations to conferences, events, and volunteering.

Fellowship training starts with Orientation at the outset of the cohort year, where fellows learn about a variety of topics, including:

  • Science policy
  • Science communication
  • Government 101
  • Media training

Throughout the year, fellows participate in mandatory instructor-led courses focusing on developing key science policy themes through their fellowships:

  • Project management
  • Defining each fellowship's impact on policy challenges
  • Strengthening science communication
  • Growing relationship-building skills with diverse stakeholders

A sample training calendar can be found below.

Mitacs welcomes host offices to offer their fellows additional professional development training available to employees of their departments.

If you have any questions about the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, please email the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship team.

New fellows champion evidence-based government strategies

Ottawa, ON and Victoria, BC 

This Fall 2019, 17 researchers begin year-long placements in the federal government and two provincial governments, harnessing their research expertise for the development of policy-based decisions on key issues across Canada.

With robust expertise ranging from environmental protection to mental health, the 2019-2020 cohort of the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship will be instrumental in the continued implementation of innovative policies and evidence-based government decision making.

Inuit knowledge and technology work in tandem to address global warming

As Executive Director of SmartICE Carolann Harding says, “We are a social enterprise first and foremost, and we take that very seriously. To us, maximizing a positive social impact with our community partners is our top priority.”  

The Start of SmartICE

The Mitacs Policy Hackathon 2019

Prepared by Mitacs
Released: June 5, 2019

BC gets a jump on the big one

The province’s need to be prepared is even more urgent. An earthquake has a domino effect on infrastructure and services. It can knock out power, and damage railway tracks and bridges. It disrupts essential services that hospitals and emergency personnel need to do their jobs. Although on average 3,000 quakes occur in BC each year, the province has not had its readiness tested by a major event recently. But it could happen at any time.