2013-14 Report on Plans and Priorities

Minister's Message

I am honoured to present the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Report on Plans and Priorities for the fiscal year 2013-2014.

In 2010, CIHR released Health Research Roadmap, a five-year strategic plan for helping CIHR invest in world-class research, focus on health and health-systems priorities, and translate research findings into health and economic benefits. Since the launch, CIHR has made great progress towards completing the objectives laid out in Roadmap. Throughout the upcoming year, CIHR will continue to implement its strategic plan.

One of the most promising developments under Roadmap has been the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). As announced by the federal government in 2011, SPOR will facilitate partnerships between the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, health charities, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to improve patient outcomes. For example, CIHR and the Graham Boeckh Foundation recently announced the first SPOR network: the Patient-Oriented Network in Adolescent and Youth Mental Health. By supporting research that is directly relevant to outcomes and by working more directly with patients SPOR will help integrate research evidence at all levels of the health care system.

CIHR has also taken action to ensure the long-term sustainability of its investigator-driven strategy. In December 2012, CIHR released a document that describes the high-level design and implementation plan for its new Open Suite of Programs and peer review processes. CIHR's strategy is to reduce program complexity, accommodate the diverse proposals CIHR receives, and continue to improve the quality, fairness and transparency of peer review. CIHR has worked closely with its community to develop the design, and is now working with its community to refine implementation details and approaches for the transition period. The modernization of CIHR's existing frameworks and systems will position Canadian health researchers for success and accelerate the advancement of knowledge and improvements to the health care system and health outcomes.

In the coming year, we will continue to be Canada's main driver of health research excellence. I commend CIHR for its ongoing efforts to improve the health of all Canadians.

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

Section I: Organizational Overview

Raison d'être

CIHR is the Government of Canada's health research funding agency. It was created 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 Institutes: 2013-2014

Scientific Directors:


CIHR was designed to respond to the evolving needs for health research and seeks to transform health research in Canada by:

CIHR integrates research through a unique interdisciplinary structure made up of 13 "virtual" institutes. 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 systems and services; and the social, cultural and environmental factors that affect the health of populations. Institutes form national research networks linking researchers, funders and knowledge users across Canada to work on priority areas.

CIHR reports through the Minister of Health and plays a key role in the Health Portfolio. 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; and, by taking an advisory role on research and innovation issues. 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.

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 as "Tri-Agency") provide a channel for the implementation of common policies, practices and approaches, whenever possible.

CIHR's Governing Council (GC) sets the strategic direction of the agency and is responsible for evaluating its performance. Leadership on research, knowledge translation and funding for research is provided by the Science Council (SC), while leadership on corporate policy and management is provided by the Executive Management Committee (EMC).

Strategic Outcome(s) and Program Alignment Architecture (PAA)

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

Long description: Strategic Outcome(s) and Program Alignment Architecture

Organizational Priorities

In 2009, CIHR's Governing Council (GC) approved CIHR's second Strategic Plan (2009-2014), The Health Research Roadmap: Creating innovative research for better health and health care. This Strategic Plan is the product of widespread consultations with members of the health research community, careful assessment of Canada's strengths and weaknesses, and on-going deliberation about what CIHR would like to achieve by 2014. Roadmap sets out a vision comprised of four strategic directions that are aligned with CIHR's corporate, business and operational priorities.

In 2010, CIHR implemented a rolling, three-year planning and reporting process for the implementation of Roadmap. The CIHR Three-Year Implementation Plan and Progress Report highlights the activities CIHR will undertake over the next three years to deliver on the strategic directions outlined in Roadmap. The report is updated annually in order to continuously assess progress made on achieving CIHR's strategic goals and priorities.

Priority Type Programs
Strategic Direction #1
Invest in world-class research excellence
On-going 1.1 Health Knowledge

1.2 Health Researchers


Why is this a priority?

CIHR supports world-class research excellence to build the knowledge base and expertise necessary to improve both the Canadian health care system and the health of Canadians. By selecting, supporting, and sustaining research that meets the highest international standards of excellence, CIHR positions Canada's health researchers to achieve results and inspire a new generation of researchers.

Plans for meeting the priority

CIHR will continue investment in excellence by supporting the best ideas and brightest minds.

CIHR will provide programming to attract and retain the best researchers, break professional and sectoral barriers in health research, promote development of transferable skills and prepare young researchers for various labour markets.

CIHR will proceed with the implementation of its reforms of the Open Suite of Programs and peer review processes. These reforms will help to ensure a sustainable foundation of health researchers; capture the very best ideas, and reduce applicant and peer reviewer burden. The transition will be a multi-year process starting with the testing and piloting of new systems and processes, and the launch of the College of Reviewers, in 2013.

Priority Type Program
Strategic Direction #2
Address health and health system research priorities
On-going 1.4 Health and Health Services Advances

Why is this a priority?

Through strategic investments, CIHR supports targeted research to address challenges facing Canadians and the health care system.

Plans for meeting the priority

Canada must carefully select its investments to both capitalize on its areas of strength, and address gaps in key research areas and communities. CIHR and its Institutes will continue to develop and implement high-impact Signature Initiatives that address existing and emerging health and health system priorities.

First among CIHR's Signature Initiatives is the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). CIHR will proceed with the implementation of two core elements of the strategy, SPOR Networks and Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units. CIHR will engage partners, stakeholders and patients to ensure that SPOR initiatives are designed for impact.

Priority Type Programs
Strategic Direction #3
Accelerate the capture of health and economic benefits of health research
On-going 1.3 Health Research Commercialization

1.4 Health and Health Services Advances


Why is this a priority?

Canadians reap the socio-economic benefits of health research when breakthroughs in health knowledge are applied to the development of health policies, practices, procedures, products, and services. Research evidence must be accessible and relevant in order to inform practice or policy.

Plans for meeting the priority

CIHR will facilitate collaborations between knowledge users, industry, health care professionals, policy makers and the research community to translate health research into health policies, practices, procedures, products and services that will benefit the health of Canadians.

CIHR will promote the dissemination and application of new knowledge to ensure that research is used to improve health outcomes of Canadians, strengthen our health care system and create opportunities for commercialization and other economic benefits for Canada. CIHR will continue to work with its stakeholders in preparation for a commercialization strategy and will collaborate with Rx&D on the implementation of the joint Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2011.

Priority Type Strategic Outcome(s) and/or Program(s)
Strategic Direction #4
Achieve organizational excellence, foster ethics and demonstrate impact
On-going 1.5 Internal Services

Why is this a priority?

CIHR is committed to demonstrating its accountability and to providing the very best services to its clients and stakeholders. CIHR strives continually to strengthen its operations and programming while fostering a dedicated and capable workforce.

Plans for meeting the priority

CIHR will ensure that its multi-year investment strategy is supported by sound financial and risk management practices, including clear accountabilities, timely financial and performance reporting and sufficient operating resources.

CIHR is committed to taking a measured approach to phasing-in its new Open Suite of Programs and peer review processes. Time has been set aside to analyse the outcomes of pilot studies, and to engage in comprehensive user testing. Lessons learned from these pilots and tests will be used to optimize the design; improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of CIHR's program delivery systems; and, reduce complexity for stakeholders.

CIHR is committed to appropriately engaging with partners, stakeholders and patients to ensure that the implementation of SPOR and CIHR's other Signature Initiatives are designed to achieve positive impact in health and health system priorities. CIHR will ensure that the design of its strategic programs is evidence-informed and based on established best practice.

Risk Analysis

CIHR's Risk Management Framework establishes how the agency identifies assesses and mitigates risk. The framework also provides a governance model that promotes the accountability for risk management as well as defining the on-going review and updating process for existing and potential risks to the organization.

The key risks identified in the current Corporate Risk Profile (CRP) include:

Reform of the Open Suite of Programs

There is a risk that CIHR’s reforms to the Open Suite of Programs including changes to the peer review process, will not be understood, or supported by external stakeholders.

To mitigate this risk, CIHR implemented a governance structure for the implementation of the reforms, developed an integrated plan, and conducted a number of forums across the country with key stakeholders to get their input and feedback on the proposed changes. This work will be beneficial when the transition plan, which will pilot and phase in components of the changes, is implemented.

Knowledge Translation

Given CIHR's lack of direct control over all the factors that influence the uptake and use of research, there is a risk that CIHR may not be able to fully achieve the knowledge translation (KT) component of its mandate and improve the health of Canadians through health research.

To mitigate this risk, CIHR has integrated KT strategies into all of CIHR's Institutes and programs including Signature Initiatives. For example, SPOR is designed to ensure that its Networks and SUPPORT units are guided by the research needs of policy makers, health practitioners and patients.

Results Management

There is a risk that CIHR will be unable to adequately and efficiently evaluate and report on its performance, and make the necessary changes to ensure impact.

To mitigate this risk, CIHR will strengthen its performance measurement frameworks and activities at all levels (programs, initiatives, and operations). This will improve CIHR's ability to track and monitor performance outcomes related to research and operational activities. Currently underway are IT systems revisions to ensure appropriate data architecture is in place to support information and reporting plans, and the development and implementation of data quality and monitoring standards.

Institute Organizational Model

There is a risk of disruptions and corporate memory loss during transitions of Scientific Directors that may reduce an Institute's ability to achieve planned outcomes or its mandate in support of CIHR's strategic objectives.

To mitigate this risk, management has implemented an Institute Transition Plan and Renewal Schedule. In addition, an on-going process has been established to assess the performance of Institute Scientific Directors. These mitigation strategies have been successful in managing this risk.

Planning Summary

Financial Resources (Planned Spending — $ millions)

Total Budgetary Expenditures

Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
  1. Planned spending in 2013-14 differs from the amount presented in the Main Estimates due to 1) Treasury Board submissions approved prior to February 1st 2013 for which funding is expected to be received through 2013-14 Supplementary Estimates; 2) the forecasted 2012-13 operating budget carry-forward; and 3) the forecasted eligible pay list expenditures reimbursements.
967.7 981.3 968.8 965.5

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents—FTE)

2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
390 390 390

Planning Summary Table ($ millions)

Strategic Outcome Program Actual Spending
Actual Spending
Forecast Spending
Planned Spending Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomesi
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
  1. Forecasted spending for 2012-13 includes the funding expected to be received through Supplementary Estimates C and the forecasted eligible pay list expenditures to year-end. It does not include the forecasted 2012-13 operating budget carry-forward.
A world-class health research enterprise that creates, disseminates and applies new knowledge across all areas of health research Health Knowledge 468.5 470.5 465.6 473.3 473.2 478.9 Healthy Canadians
Health Researchers 195.7 182.8 188.8 172.9 171.2 167.7 Healthy Canadians
Health Research Commercialization 53.1 56.0 60.5 53.6 45.4 45.8 Healthy Canadians
Health and Health Services Advances 275.4 268.0 263.3 253.8 252.6 246.7 Healthy Canadians
Sub –Total 992.7 977.3 978.2 953.6 942.4 939.1

Planning Summary Table for Internal Services ($ millions)

Program Actual
Forecast Spending
Planned Spending
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
  1. Forecasted spending for 2012-13 includes the funding expected to be received through Supplementary Estimates C and the forecasted eligible pay list expenditures to year-end. It does not include the forecasted 2012-13 operating budget carry-forward.
Internal Services 34.2 31.8 27.9 27.8 26.4 26.4
Sub – Total 34.2 31.8 27.9 27.8 26.4 26.4

Planning Summary Total ($ millions)

Strategic Outcome Program(s), and Internal Services Actual
Forecast Spending
Planned Spending
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
  1. Forecasted spending for 2012-13 includes the funding expected to be received through Supplementary Estimates C and the forecasted eligible pay list expenditures to year-end. It does not include the forecasted 2012-13 operating budget carry-forward.
Total 1,026.9 1,009.1 1,006.1 981.4 968.8 965.5

CIHR's planned spending totals $1,006.1 million in 2012-13. Planned spending then decreases to $981.4 million in 2013-14, and decreases annually down to $965.5 million by 2015-16. This decrease is mostly attributable to the funding allocated to the Tri-Agency programs between the three granting agencies, which is allocated after each competition. CIHR’s 2013-14 planned spending include the results from the latest Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) competition of $11.1 million, the last year of funding for this competition. It is expected that CIHR will be allocated funding from the upcoming Tri-agency programs competitions.

Expenditure Profile

Departmental Spending Trend

Long description: Departmental Spending Trend

CIHR's actual spending increased from $983.8 million in 2009-10 to reach $1,026.9 million in 2010-11, and is forecasted to return to $1,006.1 million in 2012-13. In the absence of new funding, total planned spending will decrease annually in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The variations in departmental spending from $983.8 million 2009-10 to $1,009.1 million in 2011-12 are mainly due to several permanent increases to CIHR's base budget announced in Federal Budgets over this period, coupled with incremental funding for targeted programs such as the Canada Excellence Research Chairs, the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network (DSEN), the Vanier Graduate Scholarships and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships. However, these increases have been offset by the full implementation, in 2011-12, of the results of the 2008 Strategic Review as well as the wind-up of temporary funding to expand the Canada Graduate Scholarships program announced in the 2009 Federal Budget.

In 2012-13, while the Federal Budget provided a permanent $15 million base budget increase to CIHR in support of its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, savings identified as part of the Budget 2012 Spending Review caused CIHR's reference levels to decrease by $15 million in 2012–13 and $30 million in 2013–14 and thereafter. The savings measures implemented include reductions to CIHR's Tri-Agency Programs, the wind-up of the Regenerative Medicine and Nanomedicine initiative, and streamlining of CIHR's operations.

The Spending Review explains $15 million of the $24.7 million decrease from 2012-13 to 2013-14, with the balance of the reductions due to variations in annual funding for two of CIHR's Tri-Agency Programs, the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence and the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). CIHR's share of these Tri-Agency programs' funding is not fixed but rather is determined by the results of program competitions. Therefore, the decrease in planned spending in future fiscal years is attributable to the reallocation of Tri-Agencies programs' funding between the three granting agencies.

Estimates by Vote

For information on our organizational appropriations, please see the 2013–14 Main Estimates publication.

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