Ottawa earmarks $238M for health data research

The federal government is renewing its funding partnership with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, but the $238-million investment is less than what the research and data organization usually gets from Ottawa.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says the federal government will continue to fund the Canadian Institute for Health Information with $238 million over the next three years. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal government is renewing its funding partnership with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, but the $238-million investment is less than what the research and data organization usually gets from Ottawa.

CIHI is a non-profit corporation that provides data on issues such as the performance of Canada's health-care systems, health-care costs and spending, factors that affect the health of Canadians, and health human resources.

It is funded by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and was set up in 1994. The last funding agreement with Health Canada over the last five years was up for renewal this year. Ottawa is responsible for nearly 85 per cent of CIHI's annual budget.

The funding announced Wednesday amounts to an average of $79.5 million per year for the next three years — less than what CIHI had been getting in recent years.

In 2008-09 the funding was up to $104.5 million, and in 2011-12 the planned contribution from the federal government is $97 million.

Those figures are according to CIHI's annual report. The core funding agreement between Health Canada and CIHI for the last five years was $81.7 million per year until the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Health Canada made some one-off funding contributions to CIHI beyond the core funding over the last few years, explaining why the spending was above the core funding agreement.

In 2012-2013 CIHI will maintain its $81.7 million funding, then in 2013-2014 it drops to $79.2 million, then to $77.6 in the final year. 

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said that the continued investment from Ottawa will help fund research that provides accurate and comparable data about the state of health care in Canada.

"While we respect provincial and territorial jurisdiction, we can show leadership at the federal level by funding an organization like CIHI, to make sure we're measuring results in the same way across the country," Aglukkaq said in a news release. "Sharing the results with Canadians helps increase transparency and accountability in health care."

At an event to make the announcement, Aglukkaq said more money is being spent on health care than ever before and it's important to be able to show Canadians they are getting the results they expect. She said CIHI has played a vital role in strengthening the health system.

The chair of CIHI's board of directors, Dr. Brian Postl, said the organization is grateful for the funding and that it will allow it to continue work that helps improve the health system and the health of Canadians.

"It's a wonderful announcement," he said at the event.

CIHI's annual budget is about $115 million and it employs about 750 people.


Meagan Fitzpatrick is a multiplatform reporter with CBC News in Toronto. She joined the CBC in 2011 and previously worked in the Parliament Hill and Washington bureaus. She has also reported for the CBC from Hong Kong. Meagan started her career as a print reporter in Ottawa.