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Minister's Message

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq

It is my pleasure to present to my parliamentary colleagues, and all Canadians, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Report on Plans and Priorities for the fiscal year 2010-2011.

As a member of the Government of Canada's Health Portfolio, CIHR funds research that aims to improve the health of Canadians, strengthen Canada's health care system and produce more effective products and services. CIHR supports nearly 13,000 health researchers and trainees in universities, teaching hospitals and other health research centres across the country. This support is critical to maintaining a vibrant, innovative and stable health research environment in Canada. As a result of this work, CIHR is playing a key role in helping the Government achieve the objectives of its Science &Technology Strategy.

Health research plays a pivotal role in improving health and saving lives. It provides the necessary evidence about the effectiveness of current treatments and health-care practices, information critical to optimize the quality and sustainability of Canada's health-care system. CIHR's investments directly contribute to our international competitiveness and economic well-being.

In October 2009, CIHR launched a new five-year strategic plan – Health Research Roadmap: Creating innovative research for better health and health care – which sets out its vision to secure Canada's place as a destination of choice in the world for health research. The plan establishes four strategic directions that will guide the organization's efforts over the next five years and demonstrate accountability and impact.

In 2010-2011, CIHR will continue the roll-out of Health Research Roadmap with new initiatives to: conduct research that supports the best minds and the brightest ideas; address health and health system research priorities and foster a greater integration of research into health care; accelerate the capture of health and economic benefits of health research in all sectors; and become a leading-edge organization in achieving results for Canadians.

With these new strategic directions, CIHR will embrace its mandate in all of its complexity and will show leadership domestically and internationally. I applaud CIHR for the work it is doing on behalf of Canadians.

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

Section I – Departmental Overview

1.1 Summary Information

Raison d'être

CIHR is the Government of Canada's health research funding agency. It was created in June 2000 by the CIHR Act (Bill C-13) with a mandate "to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system".

CIHR was designed to respond to evolving needs for health research, and this is reflected in the difference of its mandate from that of its predecessor, the Medical Research Council of Canada. CIHR's mandate seeks to transform health research in Canada by:

  • funding more research on targeted priority areas, and not only "open" basic biomedical research;
  • placing a greater emphasis on the strength of the research community by building research capacity in under-developed areas and training the next generation of health researchers; and
  • focusing on knowledge translation that facilitates the application of the results of research and their transformation into new policies, practices, procedures, products and services.

CIHR has thirteen Institutes:

  • The Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health
  • The Institute of Aging
  • The Institute of Cancer Research
  • The Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health
  • The Institute of Gender and Health
  • The Institute of Genetics
  • The Institute of Health Services and Policy Research
  • The Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health
  • The Institute of Infection and Immunity
  • The Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis
  • The Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction
  • The Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes
  • The Institute of Population and Public Health

These institutes are not "bricks-and-mortar" buildings but communities of experts. Each Institute supports a broad spectrum of research in its topic area: biomedical, clinical, health services and systems, and population and public health. Institutes form national research networks linking researchers, funders and knowledge users across Canada to work on priority areas. CIHR's innovative structure has been recognized around the world as a global best practice for supporting a problem-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to health research.

CIHR reports through the Minister of Health and plays a key role in the Health Portfolio, the focal point for the Government of Canada's health-related activities. As Canada's health research funding agency, CIHR makes an essential contribution to the Minister of Health's overall responsibilities by funding the research and knowledge translation needed to inform the evolution of Canadian health policy and regulation. This is achieved through an extensive and growing set of linkages with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, providing decision-makers with access to high quality and timely health research knowledge.

CIHR works closely with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the two Granting Councils of the Industry portfolio, to share information and co-ordinate efforts, harmonize practices, avoid duplication and foster multi-disciplinary research. The three organizations (referred to often as "Tri-Council") also try to make it easier for researchers and others to communicate with them, by providing single-window access whenever possible.

CIHR's governance structure accords closely with its Program Activity Architecture (discussed in the following section). Governing Council (GC) sets the strategic directions and evaluates the performance, supported by seven sub-committees. Leadership on research, knowledge translation and funding for research is provided by the Scientific Council (SC) and leadership on corporate policy and management is provided by the Executive Management Committee (EMC).

Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

CIHR's Program Activity Architecture (PAA), approved by Treasury Board in May 2009, is shown in Figure 1 below. The PAA consists of one Strategic Outcome and five Program Activities that support the Strategic Outcome. The performance information presented in Section II is organized according to this PAA structure.

Figure 1: CIHR's Program Activity Architecture

Figure 1: CIHR's Program Activity Architecture

Figure 1 - Text version

PAA Crosswalk

The new PAA will better align CIHR's Management, Resources and Results Structure (MRRS) with the mandate and vision of CIHR; enable CIHR to better collect sound financial and non-financial information, results and other key data on program activities to support informed decisions on program management and new program proposals; and ensure CIHR is better able to provide both Parliamentarians and Canadians with improved public performance reporting based on sound financial and non-financial performance information.

Under the new PAA, CIHR has one Strategic Outcome – "A world-class health research enterprise that creates, disseminates and applies new knowledge across all areas of health research" rather than three in the previous version of the PAA. The new Strategic Outcome aligns directly aligns to CIHR's mandate to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

The table below provides a crosswalk between the new 2010-2011 PAA and the 2009-10 version at both the Program Activity and sub-Activity levels.

PAA Crosswalk – Program Activity Level
Integration of 2009-10 Program Activities into 2010-11 Program Activities
2010-2011 Program Activity 2009-2010 Program Activity
PA 1.1 Health Knowledge PA 1.1 Open Research
PA 2.2 Research Resources and Collaborations
PA 2.4 Ethical, Legal and Social Issues
PA 1.2 Health Researchers PA 2.1 Researchers and Trainees
PA 1.3 Health Research Commercialization PA 3.2 Commercialization of Health Research
PA 1.4 Health and Health Services Advances PA 1.2 Strategic Priority Research
PA 2.3 National and International Partnerships
PA 3.1 Knowledge Translation of Health Research
PAA Crosswalk at the Sub-Activity Level
2010-2011 Sub-Activity 2009-2010 Program Activity/Sub-Activity
SA 1.1.1 Open Research Grant Program SA 1.1.1 Open Operating Grant Program
PA 2.2 Research Resources and Collaborations*
PA 2.4 Ethical, Legal and Social Issues*
SA 1.1.2 Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Program SA 1.1.2 Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Program
SA 1.2.1 Salary Support Programs SA 2.1.1 Salary Support Programs
SA 2.1.3 Canada Research Chairs
SA 1.2.2 Training Support Programs SA 1.1.3 Team Grant Program
SA 2.1.2 Training Support Programs
SA 2.1.4 CGS Program
SA 1.3.1 Research Commercialization Programs PA 3.2 Commercialization of Health Research*
SA 1.3.2 Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Programs SA 3.1.2 Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program
SA 1.4.1 Institute Strategic Initiatives SA 1.2.1 SP Operating Grant Program
SA 1.2.2 Large Strategic Initiatives Program
SA 1.2.3 HIV/AIDS Research Initiative (RI)
SA 1.2.4 Pandemic Preparedness RI
SA 1.2.5 Expensive Drugs for Rare Diseases RI
SA 1.2.6 National Anti-Drug Strategy RI
SA 2.1.5 Strategic Salary Support
SA 2.1.6 Strategic Training Support
SA 2.3.1 Institute Support Grants
SA 1.4.2 Knowledge Translation Programs SA 2.3.2 Partnership Programs
SA 3.1.1 Knowledge Translation Program
* No sub-Activities related to this Program Activity

1.2 Planning Summary

Financial Resources (in millions)
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
980.8 945.4 929.9

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalent - FTE)
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
430 430 430

Strategic Outcome 1: A world-class health research enterprise that creates, disseminates and applies new knowledge across all areas of health research
Performance Indicator Targets
Canadian ranking in health research intensity compared to international levels. Maintain or increase international ranking.
Canadian number and share of world health research papers. Maintain or increase share.
Number of citations of Canadian health research papers compared to international levels. Maintain or increase international ranking.
Researchers per thousand workforce compared to international levels. Maintain or increase international ranking.
Changes in health practices, programs or policies informed by CIHR-funded research. Evidence that the work of CIHR funded researchers resulted in long-term impacts.
Diversity of research supported (by theme and Institute). Maintain diversity of funding and increase funding in priority areas.
Program Activity Forecast Spending
(in millions)
Planned Spending (in millions) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
2010-11 2012-12 2012-13
1.1 Health Knowledge 445.3 449.5 452.1 454.2 Healthy Canadians
1.2 Health Researchers 203.8 201.6 173.2 165.2 Healthy Canadians
1.3 Health Research Commercialization 51.1 46.2 45.7 41.4 Healthy Canadians
1.4 Health and Health Services Advances 258.4 257.8 249.0 243.7 Healthy Canadians
1.5 Internal Services 26.7 25.7 25.4 25.4 N/A
Total Planned Spending for Strategic Outcome #1 980.8 945.4 929.9  

Planned spending for fiscal years 2010-11 through 2012-13 is expected to decrease as compared to forecasted 2009-10 expenditures due primarily to the results of the 2008 Strategic Review exercise. The 2008 Strategic Review resulted in CIHR winding down two of its programs – the Open Team Grant program and the Intellectual Property Management program. In time, CIHR's parliamentary appropriations will be reduced by approximately $29.6M per year. In addition, the temporary funding announced in Budget 2009 for the Canada Graduate Scholarships program will sunset at the end of fiscal year 2011-12, further reducing CIHR's planned spending thereafter.

Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcomes

In 2003, CIHR developed its first strategic plan - Blueprint - to guide the newly created organization with future strategic directions. The second iteration of CIHR's five-year strategic plan, the Health Research Roadmap, is now being implemented. The Roadmap sets out a high-level vision, four strategic directions and supporting objectives, as well as an evaluation framework and is aligned with CIHR's corporate, business and operational priorities.

Operational Priorities Type Links to Program Activity Description
Strategic Direction #1
Invest in world-class research excellence
  • Training, retaining and sustaining a healthy research foundation
  • Selecting and sustaining research excellence
  • Promoting interdisciplinary and international innovation
On-going 1.1
Health Knowledge

Health Researchers

Research excellence is one of the benchmarks that will allow Canada to sustain its place in today's knowledge-based economy.

To conduct excellent research and achieve excellent results requires: a well-trained base of investigators; a fair and transparent peer review process; and the ability to reach out to other disciplines and other countries for innovative proposals.

Strategic Direction #2
Address health and health system research priorities
  • Setting Research Priorities
On-going 1.4
Health and Health Services Advances
As a relatively small country, Canada must carefully select its investments in health research.

CIHR will increasingly focus its activities on five main priorities: enhancing patient-oriented research; supporting a high-quality, accessible and sustainable health care system; reducing health inequities, particularly for Aboriginal peoples; preparing for and responding to emerging global threats to health; and, addressing the burden of chronic disease and mental illness.

Strategic Direction #3
Accelerate the capture of health and economic benefits of health research
  • Reaping socio-economic benefits from research through knowledge translation (KT) and partnerships
  • Enhancing the application of research and its evaluation
On-going 1.3
Health Research Commercialization

Health and Health Services Advances

CIHR's role in knowledge translation (KT) is to promote the dissemination and application of new knowledge to improve health outcomes for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened health care system.

CIHR will facilitate and strengthen collaborations between researchers and knowledge users including health care professionals, public policy makers and industry. In addition, CIHR will continue to advance the science of KT and build the capacity of researchers and knowledge users to engage in KT.

CIHR strives continually to strengthen its operations and programming while fostering a dedicated, well-informed workforce. The organization's leadership, responsible management, continuous improvement practices and high-quality work environment demonstrate an on-going commitment to organizational excellence. Moreover, CIHR has consistently ensured that the cost of its operations are at or below 6% of its total appropriations thus ensuring the vast bulk of its funding goes directly to support world-class health research and researchers.

Management Priorities Type Links to Program Activity Description
Strategic Direction #4
Achieve organizational excellence, foster ethics and demonstrate impact
  • Advancing organizational excellence and ensuring transparency and accountability
  • Fostering a culture of ethics
  • Assessing progress and impact
On-going Internal Services CIHR will continue to strive for organizational excellence.

CIHR will continue to offer a world-class working environment and engage and retain a motivated, committed and productive workforce. The agency's innovative multi-year investment planning process will be supported by sound financial and risk management practices. CIHR will improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of its program delivery systems and reduce complexity for stakeholders.

CIHR will foster a culture of ethical research by building capacity in ethics research, encouraging health researchers to consider the ethical issues inherent in their research and developing ethics and integrity polices and guidelines in keeping with CIHR's mandate as a researcher funder.

CIHR is committed to continuously assessing its performance and demonstrating the benefits of its investments. CIHR will undertake its second international review in 2010/11. The review will be conducted by an independent blue-ribbon panel of experts and draw conclusions on the performance of CIHR and its 13 Institutes and identify opportunities for improvement. In addition, CIHR will commence publishing annual implementation plans for the Health Research Roadmap that will detail how each of the Strategic Directions will be addressed during the period and report on progress towards completion of the planned initiatives and key results.

Risk Analysis

CIHR understands the importance of risk management and is committed to ensuring that risk management considerations are integrated into its strategic and operational planning, business processes and decision-making. In 2009/10 Governing Council approved the Risk Management Framework that sets out how CIHR identifies, assesses and mitigates risk. The Framework also provides a governance model that promotes accountability for risk management.

CIHR's new Strategic Plan sets out an ambitious agenda that will enable the Agency to realize its full mandate in all its complexity, show leadership within the wider health research community and demonstrate accountability and results to the people of Canada. The Plan is not without risk and sound risk management will play a critical role in whether CIHR will be successful in meeting its goals.

Critical risks related to implementing the Health Research Roadmap include:

  • The risk that key stakeholders, including students and researchers, universities and other research institutions and other funders of health research such as other governmental organizations, charities and the private sector, do not understand or support the Plan. This risk will be mitigated by actively communicating and consulting with all affected parties. CIHR will need to demonstrate flexibility, adjusting the Plan as required to better respond to new developments and the evolving needs and priorities of others.

  • The Plan is also contingent on the successful implementation of a number of key reforms including: how peer review is conducted; establishing a fully integrated suite of open programs that can support excellence in all pillars and across all stages of a researcher's career; and a new focused approach for ensuring that strategic investments address specific health research and system priorities. Individually and collectively these reforms pose significant challenges and risk. Interdependencies amongst the reforms mean that they must be implemented concurrently. Staff will have to maintain existing systems/processes during the development period and manage a phased transition from old to new. The project management resources, expertise and experience to manage an implementation of this scale and complexity are limited and must compete with other activities such as the International Review Panel for staff time.

    Management has already taken steps to prepare the organization for this challenge. A re-organization of CIHR's four portfolios was completed in 2009/10 and leads have been identified for all key activities. Internal reallocation has freed up resources to permit CIHR to acquire the skill sets and leadership experience required to manage complex change. A Health Research Roadmap Implementation Office has been established to provide managers with key project management tools as well as effective oversight of the various initiatives to ensure that issues are rapidly identified and resolved. Should the timelines for implementation prove not to be feasible, the pace of the reforms will be re-calibrated and the Plan adjusted accordingly.

  • Finally, the Plan is creating high expectations within the research community as well as for CIHR's partners. CIHR firmly believes that it must be accountable for implementing the Plan and transparent regarding its impacts. To ensure that the Health Research Roadmap truly guides CIHR's activities, annual implementation plans will be published that will detail how the strategic directions have been addressed to date by highlighting uptake, progress and completion of identified activities as well as activities planned for the next fiscal year.

Expenditure Profile

Canada's Economic Action Plan
The Government of Canada's 2009 Budget, Canada's Economic Action Plan, provided CIHR with funding to temporarily expand the Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) program, which provides financial support to the most outstanding eligible students pursuing Master's or doctoral studies at a Canadian university. Budget 2009 builds on investments made in previous budgets by providing an additional $35 million over three years; $14 million for 2009-10, $14 million for 2010-11, and $7 million for 2011-12. It will provide for an additional 200 doctoral scholarships, valued at $35,000 each per year for three years, beginning in 2009-10, and an additional 400 master's scholarships, valued at $17,500 each for one year, in both 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The CGS program is sub-sub-Activity under Program Activity 1.2 Health Researchers in CIHR's Program Activity Architecture. More information on this Program Activity can be found in Section 2.

Departmental Spending Trend
CIHR expenditures increased every year from its inception in 2000 through 2007-08, however, spending has remained fairly constant in recent years. Spending is expected to decrease slightly each year over the next three fiscal years, based on current spending authorities.

Expenditure Profile - Spending Trend Graph

Graph 1 - Text version

Expenditures increased by approximately $130.8M in 2007-08 from $843.3M to $974.1M due to several new government funding initiatives led by CIHR. During the 2007-08 fiscal year, CIHR incurred $73.5M in up-front expenditures for the new Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research Program (CECR), a key element of Canada's S&T strategy that will create an environment that encourages innovation partnerships between the academic, private and public sectors. CIHR also received a $37M base budget increase in the 2007 Federal Budget, and increases to its HIV/AIDS research program, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the International Polar Year initiative, and the National Anti-Drug Strategy Research Initiative.

Total CIHR spending in 2008-09 decreased by approximately $ 4.7 million as compared to 2007-08 as a result of no further expenditures within the CECR Program, largely offset by increases in expenditures arising from a $34M base increase in Budget 2008 and funding for new programs such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, Foreign Study Stipends and Business-Led Networks Centres of Excellence.

Forecast spending is expected to increase in 2009-10 to approximately $985.3M from approximately $969.4M in 2008-09, due primarily to increased appropriations for the CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarships program. As part of Budget 2009, the CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarships program was temporarily expanded with the goal of ensuring a reliable supply of highly skilled workers for Canada going forward. CIHR received an additional $14M through Budget 2009 to help achieve this goal for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Planned spending for fiscal years 2010-11 through 2012-13 is expected to decrease as compared to forecasted 2009-10 expenditures due primarily to the results of the 2008 Strategic Review exercise. The 2008 Strategic Review resulted in CIHR winding down two of its programs – the Open Team Grant program and the Intellectual Property Management program. In time, CIHR's parliamentary appropriations will be reduced by approximately $29.6M per year. Health researchers previously funded through these two programs will be eligible to apply for CIHR grants through other open competition programs (e.g. CIHR's largest program, the Open Operating Grant program) as well as strategic programs designed to foster commercialization, including the new Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program. In addition, the temporary funding announced in Budget 2009 for the Canada Graduate Scholarships program will sunset at the end of fiscal year 2011-12, further reducing CIHR's planned spending thereafter.

Voted and Statutory Items
(in millions)
Vote # or Statutory Item (S) Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording 2009-10
Main Estimates
Main Estimates
20 Operating Expenditures 43.2 49.0
25 Grants And Contributions 876.7 926.9
(S) Contributions To Employee Benefit Plans 4.4 4.9
Total 924.3 980.8

The 2010-11 CIHR Main Estimates exceed the 2009-10 Main Estimates by $56.5M, due in part to funding announced for CIHR in the 2008 and 2009 federal budgets as well as the launch of several new programs.

In Budget 2008, the government allocated CIHR a permanent base budget increase of $34M. Due to timing issues, this $34M amount was not included in CIHR's 2009-10 Main Estimates, but is included in the 2010-11 Main Estimates. In Budget 2009, the federal government announced a temporary expansion of the Canada Graduate Scholarships program. This will see CIHR spend an additional $14M on Canada Graduate Scholarships in 2010-11 as compared to 2008-09. The primary goal of the Canada Graduate Scholarships program is to ensure Canada has a reliable supply of highly-skilled personnel in the knowledge economy going forward.

New programs were launched recently which have led to CIHR's Main Estimates increasing for 2010-11. The new Drug Safety and Effectiveness network program ($6.9 million) and the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence ($1.7M) are reflected in the 2010-11 Main Estimates for the first time. The Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network has been established at CIHR as part of the Government of Canada's Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan (FCSAP), with the goal of increasing available evidence on drug safety and effectiveness to regulators, policy-makers, health care providers and patients. This will increase capacity within Canada to undertake high-quality post-market research in this area. The goals of the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program are to focus on areas of research in the national interest to make Canada more competitive internationally; to foster a culture of public-private research partnerships; and to enhance opportunities for Science and Technology Graduates.

Incremental funding for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) program increased in the 2010-11 Main Estimates by approximately $2.8M. The Vanier CGS Program is designed to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by offering them a significant financial award to assist them during their studies at Canadian universities. This program will further ensure Canada a reliable supply of highly skilled personnel in the future.

The 2010-11 Main Estimates also include reductions to CIHR's parliamentary appropriations totalling approximately $7.5M due to the results of the 2008 Strategic Review. The winding down of CIHR's Open Team Grant program and its Intellectual Property Management program is due to a re-organization of CIHR's priorities.

In addition, transfers from other government departments included in the 2010-11 CIHR Main Estimates exceed those that were included in the 2009-10 Main Estimates by approximately $4.6M. CIHR will often partner with other government departments (e.g. Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada) as it recognizes that effective health research needs the collective effort of the many people and organizations committed to making Canadians healthier and to building an effective health care system.