Health Workforce Canada established to improve health workforce data and planning

Press Release

From: Health Canada

December 6, 2023

Health workers are the backbone of Canada’s health care system. More than ever, there is a need to improve health workforce planning and to better share knowledge and experience to recruit and retain health workers across the country. The federal government, provinces and territories, and health care system partners recognize the need for a network that will bring together health workforce data experts to learn from each other in order to build a stronger and healthier workforce, ultimately leading to better patient care.

That is why the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, welcomed the establishment of Health Workforce Canada (HWC). HWC is a new, independent organization established by an Interim Steering Committee with support from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). The organization has been created as a stand-alone entity that will work closely with CIHI and all health care system stakeholders to improve the collection and sharing of health workforce data, and share practical solutions and innovative practices. To guide the work of this arms-length organization, an initial Board of Directors has been formed.

HWC will collaborate with health sector partners to advance approaches to current and future health workforce challenges by:

  • identifying the sector’s priority needs in support of perspectives and solutions, working in partnership with CIHI and others to facilitate access to data and information while respecting Indigenous data sovereignty;
  • providing insights and guidance to inform effective policy for supply and distribution of the workforce, health equity-based planning, health and mental health of the workforce, and innovations in retention and recruitment; and
  • gathering and sharing information on practical solutions and innovative practices to address key gaps and implementation challenges.

At the most recent Health Ministers’ Meeting, the federal, provincial and territorial governments committed to take concrete actions to address health workforce challenges. This included the establishment of this centre of excellence, along with the increase in sharing and standardization of health workforce information.

The creation of HWC, along with the federal, provincial, and territorial commitments and ongoing collaborative work, will address the current lack of information about Canada’s health workforce. Moving forward, these initiatives should help improve how information is collected, used and shared to aid health employers, authorities, and governments with better health workforce planning across the country.

Health Canada and CIHI have engaged broadly with partners including provinces, territories, and existing networks, about the important role that HWC can play to support improved workforce information and planning, including in a workshop held on November 23, 2023. As work progresses to stand up HWC, its networked model with the broader health sector, partners, as well as provinces and territories, will contribute to the development of its mission and strategic plan to better support all health workers across Canada.


“Without a sustained and efficient workforce, Canadians cannot access the care they need, when they need it. Health Workforce Canada will help us better understand the root causes of health workforce issues by understanding data gaps and supporting planning efforts for the future. A pan-Canadian approach to these challenges will support all levels of government, partners and stakeholders, which will improve health outcomes for Canadians.”

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

“It is critical that we work together to build and support a strong and agile health workforce in Canada so that we can better meet the needs of patients, now and into the future. Health Workforce Canada is committed to collaborating with partners across the country to improve and share the knowledge and tools to do so.”

Glenda Yeates
Chair, Interim Steering Committee on Health Workforce Canada

Quick facts

  • HWC will operate as an independent, not-for-profit organization working with the broad network of health workforce partners across Canada to provide advice on health workforce data development. Stakeholders are invited to sign up for HWC’s newsletter in order to be notified of upcoming events and ensure that voices from across Canada’s health workforce are involved in HWC’s work.
  • To advance the initial creation of HWC, an Interim Steering Committee was formed as a decision-making and coordination body to support in the establishment of HWC. This has included work on a mandate, strategic objectives, the selection of Interim CEO, and the Board of Directors.
  • The Interim Steering Committee is chaired by Glenda Yeates, former Deputy Minister of Health Canada (2010 to 2013), former Deputy Minister of Health for Saskatchewan, and former President and CEO of CIHI. Other members include:
    • Dr. Verna Yiu: Interim Provost and Vice-President Academic at the University of Alberta, and Past President and CEO of Alberta Health Services;
    • David O’Toole: President and CEO of CIHI;
    • Dr. Kimberlyn McGrail: Scientific director, Population Data BC, and professor at University of British Columbia School of Population and Public health;
    • Dr. Alika Lafontaine: Past President of the Canadian Medical Association;
    • Dr. Linda McGillis Hall: Professor, Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto and distinguished leader in nursing research;
    • Janet Davidson: Former Deputy Minister of Health for Alberta, currently the Administrator at Nova Scotia Health; and
    • Dr. Stephen Lucas: Deputy Minister of Health Canada
  • The inaugural Board of Directors of HWC include:
    • Glenda Yeates
    • Dr. Verna Yiu
    • Dr. Kimberlyn McGrail
    • Dr. Linda McGillis Hall
  • This announcement is part of the Government of Canada’s larger and ongoing efforts to support the health workforce, which has included:
    • Through Budget 2023, the Government of Canada outlined its plan to invest close to $200 billion over 10 years to improve health care for Canadians, which includes a focus on efforts to support the health workforce and to modernize the health care system through digital tools and health data.
    • The first-ever launch of category based selection for Canada’s flagship economic immigration management system, Express Entry. Category-based selection allows Canada to issue invitations to apply to prospective permanent residents with specific work experience, including in health care.
    • Announced an investment of $78.5 million in three projects that will help to train and retain more health workers, under the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program through Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC).
    • Hosted the Nursing Retention Forum lead by Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer, with key members of the nursing community, to co-develop a toolkit with evidence-informed practical strategies, such as mental health and wellness supports that employers and health authorities can implement to support nursing retention within their organizations.

Associated links


Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada


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