Pre-Announcement – Investing in Primary and Secondary Prevention: Developing Canada’s Health Economic Forecasting Capacity

Important Dates

  • Expected launch date: September 2017
  • Expected application deadline: November 2017
  • Funding start date: March 2018

CIHR’s Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (IHSPR) and Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) in partnership with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation are pleased to announce the upcoming Investing in Primary and Secondary Prevention: Developing Canada’s Health Economic Forecasting Capacity funding opportunity.


Health care funding, financing and sustainability is a top priority across the country and innovative approaches are required to finance community-based services that improve health outcomes and generate value for money, while not increasing health care spending.

One opportunity to achieve this result is through the scaling of successful primary and secondary prevention health services and social programs. Investing upstream in such interventions in many cases has demonstrated to improve clinical and social outcomes of individuals and save government money in the form of reduced service costs, avoided future service costs, and increased tax revenue resulting from increased labour market activity. All too often, prevention and early intervention investments remain at the pilot or demonstration project stage and are never scaled to the entire population. There are numerous barriers to scaling up, including the lack of a well-articulated framework to determine whether there is a strong enough evidence base to reassure investors that scaling the project will produce the health economic benefits promised by the pilot or demonstration project. Equally, there is limited capacity to produce financial projections that would more easily allow government departments to understand the impact of scaling evidence-based primary and secondary prevention interventions on their budgets over time. 

Governments and communities have faced similar challenges over the years, with the monumental costs incurred to build public physical infrastructure. The challenges in investing in public physical infrastructure have been addressed, in part, through the ability to project with significant reliability, the streams of benefits and costs both to users and investors. It is this reliability that has given sufficient comfort to those who set standards in the accounting profession to allow for the spreading of the cost of infrastructure projects over time through the creation of amortization rules. Amortization allows investors to spread the cost of infrastructure investments over the useful lifetime of the asset thus reducing the impact of the initial spending on the investor’s income statements in a given year.

It is time to develop similar tools for early interventions in health and social services in order to create an environment wherein greater investments in primary and secondary prevention might be possible. This would allow governments and health care organizations to make larger intervention investments to help meet the great health and social challenges of this age.


This funding opportunity aims to provide relevant audiences with the frameworks and tools that can support the economic analysis of  investments in primary and secondary health prevention, identify the scientific and policy challenges that must be addressed if the costs of such investments are to be amortized over time, and outline the changes required to accounting regulations that would allow the costs of primary and secondary prevention and early intervention services and programs to be amortized.

More specifically, the goals of this funding opportunity are to:

  1. Develop a framework that lays the analytic foundation to support implementation of cost amortization for investments in prevention and early intervention. This framework should only consider health economic evidence for primary and secondary prevention initiatives that is sufficiently strong to be able to be relied upon by government and private investors to generate predictable streams of benefits over time.
  2. Develop one simulation of the analytical framework in action for a minimum of three of the four following focus areas: mental health; child and youth health; food security (e.g., nutrition, diabetes); or intergenerational trauma (e.g., domestic violence prevention, depression). It is expected that each simulation will include a long term health economic forecast and be aligned with the actual government budgeting process so as to allow officials to better understand the tangible implications of investing in prevention.


The total amount available for this funding opportunity is $265,000, enough to fund approximately one grant for up to one year.

Please direct your questions to: CIHR Contact Centre

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