March 28, 2023 (Ottawa) – While Budget 2023 formalizes important and welcomed new investment to shore up healthcare in Canada, HealthCareCAN sees the lack of any long-term, sustainable funding for health research as short-sighted.
Taking an approach of supporting strategic areas with the goal of wanting to strengthen Canada’s competitive advantage, but not seizing the opportunity to provide much-needed support to our nation’s critically-needed health researchers, is incomprehensible. Investing today in health research will reap great dividends and create new knowledge for the future.
Health researchers across the country and the federal government’s own Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System have all agreed that more investment in health research is urgently required. Unfortunately, the federal government has chosen instead to tempt fate by failing to address the fact that base funding for fundamental, investigator-led health research has seen zero growth in the last three years and is not keeping pace with inflation. HealthCareCAN will continue to urge that the federal government ensures Canada’s health research enterprise and its researchers are properly supported.
While the lack of long-term sustainable funding for health research is a serious concern, HealthCareCAN is pleased to see federal funding earmarked for specific projects in health research and other areas, including:
- $198.3 billion over 10 years in health transfers to provinces and territories, including $46.2 billion in new funding through new Canada Health Transfer measures, tailored bilateral agreements to meet the needs of each province and territory, personal support worker wage support, a Territorial Health Investment Fund and the Indigenous Health Equity Fund.
- $45.9 million over four years, starting in 2024-25, with $11.7 million ongoing, to Employment and Social Development Canada to expand the reach of the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness program for doctors and nurses to more rural communities.
- Up to $50 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to Employment and Social Development Canada to develop and test innovative solutions to strengthen the retirement savings of personal support workers without workplace retirement security coverage.
- $359.2 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, with $5.7 million ongoing and $1.3 million in remaining amortization, to support a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which would guide the government’s work to save lives and protect the health and safety of Canadians.
- $158.4 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support the implementation and operation of 988.
- $13.0 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $4.4 billion ongoing to Health Canada to implement the Canadian Dental Care Plan.
- $250 million over three years, starting in 2025-26, and $75 million ongoing to Health Canada to establish an Oral Health Access Fund.
- $108.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to expand the College and Community Innovation Program, administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Looking ahead, HealthCareCAN remains committed to working closely with its member institutions and partners to champion and advance tangible solutions to build a sustainable, reliable and equitable health system and a strong health research ecosystem.
“Healthcare today is far more complex than when our country’s health system was first conceived. Only a system that is accessible, equitable and sustainable, and supported by a robust research ecosystem, will be effective at responding to emerging health challenges. Collaboration among all levels of government, informed by meaningful input from health system leaders is key to building a better system – but those conversations need to start now.”
— Paul-Émile Cloutier, President and CEO, HealthCareCAN“Without urgent new federal investment in health research to support emerging Canadian research talent to build a career in Canada, strengthen Canada’s standing as a global research power, and position research as a key driver of Canada’s knowledge and innovation-based economy, Canada will be hamstrung by a serious brain drain as our best and brightest go to work in other countries, and take their ideas with them.”
— Dr. David Hill, Co-Chair, HealthCareCAN Vice Presidents of Health Research committee; Integrated Vice President, Research, London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London; Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute
- On March 20, the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support Systems released a report stating, among other recommendations, that: “The Government of Canada needs to significantly increase its investments in the granting councils.”
- On March 1, HealthCareCAN wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland to express concern about the state and direction of health research in Canada.
- On October 1, 2022, HealthCareCAN presented to the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System to advise the federal government on modernizing the federal system supporting research.
- The budget must boost Canadian health research. HealthCareCAN Op-Ed in the Ottawa Citizen (March 15, 2023)
- Investments in Canada’s health research must be part of solution. HealthCareCAN Op-Ed in the Hamilton Spectator (January 24, 2023)
- HealthCareCAN submission to Finance Canada’s 2023 Pre-Budget Consultations. (January 11, 2023)
- HealthCareCAN submission to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) study on building the future of clinical trials at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (December 1, 2022)
HealthCareCAN is the national voice of healthcare organizations and hospitals across Canada. We foster informed and continuous, results-oriented discovery and innovation across the continuum of healthcare.
– 30 –
Alexandria Rowe, Communications and Member Services Specialist
855-236-0213/613-241-8005 ext. 221 │ Cell: 613-220-1023