Results at a Glance - Synthesis Evaluation of Transfer Payments to Pan-Canadian Health Organizations 2014-15 to 2017-18


Health Canada provides funding to eight Pan-Canadian Health Organizations (PCHOs), which were designed to provide national coordination and collaboration to address system-wide priorities. Their roles and scope differ, but all of them tend to provide either system-wide services and support (e.g., creating evidence-based advice to support decision making), or act as a catalyst for improvement in priority areas (e.g., providing leadership and making progress on a health issue).


The synthesis evaluation assessed the relevance and performance of transfer payments, created and sustained by Health Canada, to PCHOs for the period of April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2018. This report was produced to fulfill the requirements of the Federal Accountability Act to conduct an evaluation of all ongoing grants and contributions programs every five years. This synthesis evaluation used available information from previous evaluations of individual PCHOs, annual reports, and the 2018 external review commissioned by the Minister of Health.

What the evaluation found

The 2018 external review commissioned by the Minister of Health noted insufficient alignment of issues addressed by PCHOs in relation to Government of Canada priorities, and partly attributed this to a lack of strategic direction from Health Canada. The external review reported that governance for PCHOs did not always have a clear purpose and that PCHOs have set their priorities in isolation from each other.

Both the recipient-led evaluations and external review generally acknowledged that the broad issues (e.g. mental health) addressed by most PCHOs represented areas where more progress is needed in order to improve the health system.

PCHOs have made progress towards achieving their expected outcomes, but many evaluations have noted a gap in available evidence to demonstrate achievement of longer-term outcomes. It appears that limited progress has been made since the last synthesis evaluation on improving the availability of performance information for longer-term outcomes.

PCHOs do not have diversified sources of funding. Many of the PCHOs' functions and activities overlapped and duplicated those of other organizations across the suite, the public service, and the health sector. There is also a need to clarify roles, responsibilities, strategic direction, and priority setting for PCHOs in order to improve their efficiency.


This synthesis evaluation did not include recommendations, considering that the areas for improvement it has identified are addressed by the 10 recommendations made in the 2018 external review.

About this evaluation

This evaluation was completed by the Office of Audit and Evaluation in October 2018. Sources of information used were previous evaluation reports, the 2018 external review analysis, as well as other organizational documentation.

December 2018

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