Minister of Health announces $81M initiative to increase access to health research data

News release

Canada takes step forward in building its capacity to respond to health challenges 

April 23, 2019 – Vancouver, B.C. – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Responding effectively to health challenges, such as the opioid crisis currently gripping Canada, requires research data. Data helps us understand the nature and underlying causes of a problem and evaluate the effectiveness of our attempts to intervene and solve it.

Furthermore, in a country as big and diverse as Canada, where health problems do not respect provincial and territorial boundaries, solutions require collective action that crosses jurisdictions.

Today, while meeting with researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced a new $81M initiative that will make it easier for researchers to access and analyze health research data.

The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Canadian Data Platform is a seven-year, $81.35M investment with contributions from several partners. This groundbreaking initiative is a single portal through which researchers will be able to request access to a multitude of administrative, clinical, and social data from various sources from across the country.

Up to now, accessing and using multi-jurisdictional data has been a challenge because of differences in the requirements for requesting and accessing data and in the data themselves. The new data platform will help foster an environment where researchers can address questions that cross boundaries and more easily build on the work of their peers, leading to the kinds of advances that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

Dr. Kim McGrail, a professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health, will lead the new data platform, alongside a team made up of representatives from across Canada. 


“We are fortunate in Canada to be home to many world-class health researchers who play an essential role in helping address some of the most pressing challenges facing our country. Our government will continue to strongly support science and invest in projects like this one, which will benefit Canadians by better connecting data and researchers.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health

“This is a game changer for Canada. Our pan-Canadian team has been working for almost five years to create a vision, and we are thrilled that CIHR and our partners are providing funding to make that vision a reality. Data are as fundamental to research and improvement as the internet is to communications. Analyzing data from across the country can lead to insights that would be impossible if limited to a single province. A streamlined, simplified process for requesting comparable data will create new opportunities for researchers across the country.”

Dr. Kim McGrail, Scientific Director, SPOR Canada Data Platform 

“The University of British Columbia is grateful for this generous support from the federal government and partners across Canada. The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data Platform will empower our researchers to work with data from all parts of Canada, helping build strong collaborations that have the potential to make important advances in health care research.” 

Professor Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia

“Patients and other citizens will not only benefit from the SPOR Canadian Data Platform but help decide what data should be included and how the data should be connected and used. They will also, through the work of a Public and Patient Advisory Committee with members from across Canada and though participation in extensive outreach activities, advise all those working on the Platform on issues related to data access and privacy and on ways to demystify the world of data. We expect the Platform to make improving health and health care easier and faster and look forward to lending a hand to its development and applications.”

Frank Gavin, Lead of the Patient and Public Working Group for the SPOR Canadian Data Platform

Quick facts

  • The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data Platform is a 7-year, $81.35M investment with contributions from several partners, including:

    • The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
    • The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care/Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences
    • Population Data BC
    • The Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI)
    • The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information
    • The University of British Columbia
  • The Canadian Data Platform is made possible through the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), a series of funding partnerships between CIHR, provinces and territories, philanthropic organization, academic institutions, and health charities. SPOR is about providing the evidence needed to inform the development of health policies and improve the health care system for patients. 

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Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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