ARCHIVED - Canada's Health Infostructure

National Forum on Health

The National Forum on Health was an advisory body established by the Prime Minister of Canada in October 1994 to advise the federal government on innovative ways to improve Canada's health system and the health of Canadians. The Forum consisted of the Prime Minister as Chair, the federal Minister of Health as Vice-Chair and 24 volunteer members. It divided its work into four areas: values; striking a balance; determinants of health; and evidence-based decision making.

The Forum's final report, Canada Health Action: Building on the Legacy, released in 1997, concluded that Canada needed to rapidly develop an evidence-based health system, with decisions made on the basis of appropriate, balanced and high-quality evidence. Specifically, it recommended that:

  • the federal Minister of Health take leadership in developing an evidence-based health system;
  • a nationwide population health information system be established to support clinical, policy and health services decision making, as well as decision making by patients and the public at large; and
  • a comprehensive research agenda be developed to address gaps in our current knowledge, and to identify mechanisms to promote analysis, translation, dissemination and use so that high-quality content is available for the health information system.

The report emphasized the importance of accountable, transparent decision making based on integrated, accessible information available through state-of-the-art technology. Decision makers at all levels of the health system would have access to relevant and timely information on population health strategies as well as medical and non-medical health determinants.

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