-A A +A

August 10, 2021 – Canada needs a broader vision of healthcare that balances restoring health, the current focus, with promoting health, according to a working paper released by the C.D. Howe Institute.

In “Best in Health: Creating a Comprehensive Health Information Ecosystem,” authors Don Drummond, Duncan Sinclair and Philipp Gladkov discuss how this balance can be corrected, while consolidating Canada's fragmented health data and information.

“Like others, Canada's healthcare 'system' is reactive. It is focused on restoring to good health people who become ill or injured. It does relatively little to keep people healthy – to promote good health,” write the authors.

The authors call for striking a balance between the two objectives, with policies and/or practices/procedures based on data that assess the health status of individuals and populations in all their diversity throughout the length and breadth of the country.

The authors point out that the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Statistics Canada are well-suited to play leading roles in developing methodologies for aggregating, analyzing, and reporting on the information that governments and others will need to reshape policies and protocols. Their combined mandates enable unique partnerships with federal, provincial, and territorial ministries of health, as well as a broad range of health organizations and partners.

“The health information now provided by CIHI and Statistics Canada, as well as many other agencies across Canada, provides powerful building blocks to put in place a comprehensive health information ecosystem,” says Drummond.

 The authors make several recommendations to this end.

  • First, that all partner governments and agencies involved in the provision and reporting of health and healthcare services work together to standardize and consolidate health data and information on both sides of the ledger, good health, and ill health, to enable the people of Canada to be among the healthiest in the world.
  • Second, that these agencies re-balance, deepen and consolidate health status reporting by drawing out the dimensions of health across factors such as age, sex, geography, socio-economic status, and ethnicity, and relating the determinants of health to their outcomes.
  • Third, that health information collection must be transformed to follow the changes that may accelerate in how health services are delivered.
  • Fourth, that CIHI and Statistics Canada work closely with the government of Canada in its commitment to produce a Quality-of-Life Index, a process Statistics Canada is already involved in.

They also recommend these agencies work with the provincial and territorial governments in their development of policies, practices, and procedures to encompass the goal of optimizing the health of Canada's population with a commitment equal to that accorded to the repair of ill health over the past many years.

Read the Full Report

For more information contact: Don Drummond, Stauffer-Dunning Fellow, Queen’s University, and Fellow-in-Residence, C.D. Howe Institute; Duncan Sinclair C.M., Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University; Laura Bouchard, Communications Manager, C.D. Howe Institute, 416-865-9935, lbouchard@cdhowe.org

The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. Widely considered to be Canada's most influential think tank, the Institute is a trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.