The Government of Canada and Maritime provinces put patients first with new investment

News release

Support from federal and provincial governments will ensure health research focuses on priorities identified by patients

March 17, 2022 – Fredericton, New Brunswick – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Patients and their families are best placed to know what is important and what is not when receiving health care services. That’s why patient-oriented research and care is so vital: through their lived experience, patients bring valuable firsthand perspectives to research that, in turn, help lead to new and better ways of delivering care that ultimately improve the health of all people in Canada.

Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $16.1M in funding and in-kind contributions from the Government of Canada and the provincial governments of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island to support the work of a Maritime hub for patient-oriented research. Known as the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit, it has played an important role building regional capacity in patient-oriented research since 2013.

The pandemic has been a busy time for the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit, which has contributed to 56 projects related to COVID-19. For example, it supported a study to better understand how the needs of patients and primary care providers are being met, and what lessons COVID has taught us about improving the way people access primary care. With the assistance of patients, the SUPPORT Unit also produced reports on how the pandemic has affected the mental health of people in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The research results are informing how the provincial governments allocate resources to help people at risk for mental health and substance use challenges made worse by the pandemic.

This new investment will help the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit continue this important work and bring it to the next level, ensuring patients have a greater say in setting research priorities, that they are involved in more aspects of the research process, and that the knowledge from research is applied to improve health care and patient outcomes.

This investment is provided as part of SPOR, a pan-Canadian initiative dedicated to integrating the voices of patients in research and health care. SPOR is led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) with support from partners across the country. 


“In order to provide Canadians with high-quality health care, we need research evidence to tell us what works. Patients, caregivers, and families help get at this evidence by adding their lived experience to the research process. When patients, researchers, and health care professionals combine their expertise and experience, that’s when we’re truly able to make a difference in patients’ lives.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health, Government of Canada

“This initiative integrates patient voices in research and health care and is a vital step forward for patient-centric care in our province. For every dollar our government invests in research, we get a five-dollar return in economic spinoff and jobs. This kind of investment in the knowledge economy attracts world-class clinicians to our province and supports a learning heath system where evidence is used to inform the care we provide.”

The Honourable Dorothy Shephard
Minister of Health of New Brunswick

“Patient-oriented research puts people at the centre of care and ensures that health policies and system changes are reflective of the needs of patients, families and caregivers. This funding, along with investments made by each of the Maritime provinces, will allow us to continue with these important provincial and regional research initiatives.”

The Honourable Michelle Thompson
Minister of Health and Wellness of Nova Scotia

“Delivering health care requires understanding the capacity of our system and the needs of patients. By bringing together researchers and policy workers, this collaboration helps us make evidence-based decisions about the best and most relevant care for Islanders.”

The Honourable Ernie Hudson
Minister of Health and Wellness of Prince Edward Island

I’m so proud of the impactful work the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit is doing here in New Brunswick and across all the Maritime provinces. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you stepped up to provide the important research evidence medical professionals and policy makers needed to make decisions to help keep people safe and healthy. This investment is a vote of confidence in the important role you continue to occupy in the health system.” 

Jenica Atwin
Member of Parliament for Fredericton

“As patients and caregivers, we have first-hand knowledge of living with our conditions, receiving treatment and navigating health care systems. We can draw on that lived experience to guide and inform research, identify what matters most to patients, and ultimately improve health care for others. This funding will allow us continue this important work in partnership with researchers, policy-makers and health care professionals, and ensure that Maritime health care systems meet the needs of patients, caregivers and our communities.”

Heather Hogan,
Co-Chair, Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit Patient Partner Council

“CIHR is pleased to be able to continue growing Canada’s capacity to conduct patient-oriented research, not only because patients’ voices deserve to be heard, but because health policy and practice is improved when patients are involved throughout the research process. Thank you to our provincial partners for making this investment possible.”

Dr. Michael J. Strong
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“The New Brunswick Health Research Foundation has been involved in the development and funding of the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) since CIHR Launched its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research in 2011. The positive impact that the MSSU has had on the people and province of New Brunswick could be said to be unparalleled. It has not only contributed significantly to the economy, but patient-oriented research and evidence-based decision-making that reflects the unique needs of Maritime patients and helps to improve the health of our population. The New Brunswick Health Research Foundation is proud to continue to support this worthwhile endeavour.”

Meaghan Seagrave
CEO, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation

Quick facts

  • The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) is an initiative led by CIHR in collaboration with partners across the country.

  • SPOR Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units, or SPOR SUPPORT Units, are provincial and territorial-based centres that provide access to health data, apply knowledge generated through research to improve health care practices, provide training on conducting and using patient-oriented research, and engage patients as active partners throughout the entire research process.

  • Since 2013, the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit has played an important role building regional capacity in patient-oriented research in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

  • The Government of Canada, through the CIHR, and its provincial partners are providing an additional investment of $16.1M over five years to help the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit continue its important work.

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Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Shannon Payne
Director of Marketing and Engagement
New Brunswick Health Research Foundation

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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