CCS Workplace Cancer Research Grants: Preventing occupational cancers

Highlights of the program

CCS Workplace Cancer Research Grants of up to $200k over 2 years are available to support game-changing cancer research that will uncover new knowledge and fill existing gaps to drive risk-reduction and cancer prevention efforts for workers in Canada.

Deadline dates

Abstract registrations due
November 9, 2023
Full application due date
February 1, 2024
Results announcement
April 2024
Anticipated funding start date
May 1, 2024

Program Launch Partner

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)


Workplaces can pose a significant risk to health through repeated exposure to carcinogens and other risks, including asbestos, solar UV, diesel exhaust, crystalline silica, radon, and shift work. Every year, an estimated 10,000 Canadian workers are diagnosed with occupation-related cancers, but workplace cancer research comprises less than 1% of cancer research funding in Canada.

In 2021, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) embarked on a unique fundraising mission – to engage and work with partners in healthcare, business, industry and labour unions to raise funds that would have a meaningful impact on worker health and safety through the Workplace Cancer Research Fund. Current partners include:

  • Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • Labourers International Union of North America
  • National Union of Public and General Employees
  • NL Teachers Association
  • Union of Taxation Employees - Public Service Alliance of Canada
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Union
  • United Steelworkers District 6

Representatives from the Canadian labour movement have worked with CCS as part of a Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) to advise and support the development of this research funding opportunity. 

Program Description

The CCS Workplace Cancer Research Grants have been created to support game-changing cancer research that will uncover new knowledge and fill existing gaps related to a diversity of workplace cancer risk factors to drive cancer prevention efforts and inform guidelines, policies, and regulations aimed at reducing cancer risk for workers in Canada.

Eligible applications are invited from all research disciplines.

Proposed projects must demonstrate a specific and defined potential for impact on the prevention of workplace exposures to risk factors, ultimately leading to a reduced incidence of workplace-related cancer. Inclusion of relevant stakeholders capable of utilizing the research results should be involved as members of the research team from idea conception.

Focus of research is encouraged, but is not limited to:

  • Air pollution
  • Asbestos
  • Crystalline silica
  • Diesel engine exhaust
  • Emerging technologies (electrification, nanotechnology)
  • Occupational exposure to toxic/hazardous medications/diagnostic technologies/chemicals
  • Radon
  • Shift work
  • Solar UV radiation

Eligible research includes, but is not limited to investigating:

  • The causes of workplace-related cancers, including the mechanisms underlying risks for cancer development
  • The economic burden of workplace-related cancers
  • Mitigation/reduction of workplace-related exposures/risk factors, including biomarkers for early cancer detection and cancer risk assessment
  • How best to raise awareness of risk and/or implement policy change

Research teams are encouraged to consider sectors (i.e. professions) where less research has been focused historically, such as border services (e.g. diesel exhaust) and first responders working alongside firefighters (e.g. air pollution). 

As a condition of funding, grantees will:

  • Report on research progress and results/outcomes to the CCS Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) (on a regular basis)
  • Receive feedback and/or questions about their research from LAC members
  • Engage with CCS staff, where relevant, to identify potential advocacy opportunities related to workplace cancer risk

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity

CCS is committed to equity, diversity, inclusivity, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples rights. We strive to build inclusive and diverse capacity in the cancer research ecosystem through both policies and practices, and aim to equitably support applicants with diverse expertise, experiences and narratives.

We recognize that structural racism and discrimination exists in the research ecosystem, and as we move to examine and dismantle these practices, we seek to learn from the resilience, wisdom and diversity of other perspectives. We commit to examining biases, seeking inclusive solutions and acknowledging the discomfort that comes with systemic and structural change. We commit to advancing equity, diversity and inclusive practices and principles, including learning about and applying decolonizing and anti-racist approaches. We welcome and encourage eligible applicants of diverse backgrounds to apply for our funding opportunities and commit to diversity on our review panels.

Guidance on engagement of people affected by or at risk of cancer

Applications are strongly encouraged to demonstrate meaningful patient or stakeholder engagement in research development, implementation, and dissemination of research findings. Engagement can mean many things, and all types of research can benefit from the inclusion of diverse perspectives. We have compiled resources on our website to help inform and guide the engagement process. These include a wide range of resources developed and offered by the CIHR Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) support units, but also articles on engagement in different types of research. We recognize that patient or stakeholder engagement will look different for different types of research and encourage both broader forms of engagement (as part of an overall research or learning program/strategy) as well as creativity in devising engagement strategies.

Funds available

It is anticipated that up to 8 grants will be awarded in this competition. Consideration for a wide range of topics will be given during the review process to maximize program scope.

Grant budgets may be for up to $100,000 per year and a maximum of $200,000 per grant (over 2 years).

Funding will be provided to support the direct costs of research, including supplies, salaries, publication and other end-of-grant dissemination costs, and equipment associated with the proposed work. Equipment requests cannot exceed 15% of the requested budget. Indirect costs are not eligible. Review CCS’s Financial Administration policy when developing the budget. 

Additional information

An expert review committee will be assembled to review the full applications. The committee will be comprised of diverse (gender, geography, career stage, race) scientists, end-users/decision-makers and patient/survivor/caregiver reviewers who, collectively, possess relevant expertise and experience to review the submitted applications (see review criteria below for more information).

The mandatory abstract registration will inform the composition of the panel.

A maximum of one application per Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator will be permitted in this competition.

Registration is mandatory and noncompetitive. Note that submitted abstracts will be shared with the CCS LAC to advise the committee of potential application topics, as well as provide an opportunity for directed feedback to applicants where relevant. Where appropriate, LAC members may provide feedback to applicants, as potential ‘end-users’ of the research results, that may benefit the feasibility of the research being proposed.

Any significant changes to the proposed project or applicant team after the Abstract Registration deadline should be communicated to the CCS ( as soon as they are known. 

Abstract registration includes:

  1. Applicant and (known) team details (Principal Investigator (PI), Co-PIs, Co-Applicants, Additional Authors, Patients/Survivors/Caregivers, Implementers/Decision-makers, Collaborators etc.) (team members may be added at the full application stage)
  2. A Scientific Abstract that describes the rationale, objectives/aims, methods, and anticipated results and potential impact of the project (4200 characters, spaces included)
  3. A Public Summary that describes (in plain language understandable to a non-scientist) why this work is important (rationale); the goal or purpose of the project (objectives/aims); the research plan (methods); and the anticipated results and potential impact of the project (2000 characters, spaces included)
  4. A Relevance Statement that clearly articulates how the project is relevant to workplace cancer risk and how workplace cancer risk will be affected if the project is successful (2500 characters, spaces included)
  5. Keywords
  6. Suggested reviewers
  7. Research tracking information

Please review the application guide prior to submitting your application. When preparing the full application, the following additional information is required:

  1. Team member CVs or Letters of Support
  2. A detailed scientific proposal including goal(s)/hypothesis and aims of the project, supporting evidence/rationale/theoretical framework, experimental/research design, methods, analysis (including alternative approaches and mitigation of risks), anticipated results and potential impact of the research. Describe the data management plan (how data will be collected, documented, protected, and shared, with consideration for the First Nations Principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession (OCAP) where relevant). While sex, gender and other dimensions of diversity, as well as patient or stakeholder engagement are called out below, these should be evident within the research plan where relevant (21,000 characters, spaces included). An additional 2 pages of figures/tables/charts and associated legends are permitted (and may be embedded in the proposal as images without affecting character count).
  3. A description of how sex and/or gender and/or other dimensions of diversity and their intersectionalities have been factored into the research plan through to dissemination of results/next steps towards implementation (where relevant).
  4. A description of knowledge translation/mobilization activities. Public and/or patient engagement strategies (including co-design where appropriate) are encouraged. Equitable access to results should be considered (as relevant).
  5. A draft Terms of Reference (ToR) (word/pdf) inclusive of all team members, and detailing how all members of the team have been and will be integrated into the work proposed (including barriers to participation and how these will be addressed), decision-making (and conflict resolution) process, evaluation of engagement (where relevant), and a description (or descriptions) of the research environment(s). Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion principles in the composition of the research team must be evident. It is expected that all team members will have reviewed, contributed to, and agreed to the ToR as submitted, however it is expected that the ToR will change throughout the lifetime of the project.
  6. A detailed budget and justification providing rationale for the requested consumables, personnel, and equipment associated with the research project. Details must include the number of personnel required to complete the work, a description of their experience and/or education level, and their time commitment to the project. Consult SPOR guidance, CCS policy or contact CCS for additional information on remuneration eligibility.

Two scores – Scientific Merit and Relevance and Potential Impact – are averaged together to create a final score upon which applications are ranked. Scientific Merit includes an assessment of the Research Strategy, Team Composition, and Environment where the research will take place. The Relevance and Potential Impact score considers relevance of the project to the funding opportunity, meaningful patient or stakeholder engagement, commitment to equity, diversity and inclusivity, knowledge translation and mobilization, and the potential for the research, if successful (and used/applied), to have an impact on workplace cancer incidence.

Evaluation scales can be viewed here.

All grant recipients must submit annual progress reports and statements of account throughout the grant (and 2 years post-grant for progress reports). Principal Investigators will be emailed instructions about completing the report in our online system (EGrAMS). Submission of these reports is mandatory. Failure to submit the required reports will result in the future installments of a grant being withheld.

It is understood that applications may also be made to other agencies to provide support for grants/programs similar to those submitted to the Canadian Cancer Society. There must not be any overlap with any pending application (including those at the abstract or Letter of Intent submission stage) to any other CCS program as of this competition due date. Budgetary overlap will not be permitted at the funding stage.

Applicants are reminded to review the Eligibility and requirements section for details on scientific and financial reporting, funder acknowledgement, Canadian Cancer Society policies on open access and tobacco related funding.

Partner Description

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) mandate is to support research that reduces the burden of cancer on individuals and families through prevention strategies, screening, diagnosis, effective treatments, psychosocial support systems, and palliation.

How to apply

Review eligibility and requirements

Consult CCS eligibility and requirements. Review CCS requirements for Principal Investigators, their teams, and Host Institutions.  

Review application guide
Review the application guide here


Submit your abstract in EGrAMS by 5pm ET on November 9, 2023. 

Full Application

Submit your full application in EGrAMS by 5pm ET on February 1, 2024.