Public health in Canada has been transformed since the turn of the 21st century following the SARS crisis, with changes accelerating in the late 2000s. Examples include the creation of Public Health Ontario in 2008, new roles for chief medical officers of health in New Brunswick in 2013 and reduced public health budget in Quebec in 2015.

“These changes may affect how public health systems impact the health of Canadians, but there is little knowledge about these impacts,” says Mehdi Ammi, an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration. Evidence is lacking on the effects of these changes on population health, health services and the preferences of the policymakers who are involved in implementing the changes.

Mehdi Ammi

Public health systems are now under extreme stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The crucial role these systems play in the lives of Canadians has been made clear. Ammi, along with an interdisciplinary team of researchers and policymakers from across Canada, are studying the impact of the financial and structural transformation of public health systems.

The two-year $200,000 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Catalyst Grant (extended due to COVID-19) will support the researchers’ investigation into the health impact of Canadians and the equity implications of changes made to public health systems. “Knowing how past public health transformations have affected health outcomes will help governments to make evidence-informed decisions,” says Ammi.

Major public health investments are now made to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. “In addition to the evaluation of past changes, the preferences of local to national public health decision-makers across the country will offer valuable input on how to best allocate these new resources.”

The results from the research will advance knowledge on the positive, negative and unintended effects of transformations to the public health structure and the implications on resource allocation. The goal of the research is to provide quantitative and qualitative data about the impact of past changes and policymakers’ preferences, but also to provide a method for monitoring changes to public health at the provincial, territorial and local level in the future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 in ,
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