Governments of Canada and British Columbia Announce Significant Investments to Improve Health Care for Patients in British Columbia

SUPPORT Unit to foster collaboration and increase patient oriented-research throughout the province

VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 9, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jane Philpott, Canada's Minister of Health, and the Honourable Terry Lake, British Columbia's Minister of Health announced today a major investment in research that will strive to improve patient care for those living in British Columbia. The Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia announced a combined $80 million in funding and in-kind contributions toward a new British Columbia Support Unit for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (BC SUPPORT Unit).

The BC SUPPORT Unit is a multidisciplinary cluster of specialized personnel in the areas of research, policy, and patient care, who will engage patients to identify their needs and set priorities for research. It is expected to increase patient-oriented research throughout the province and help improve health care services for British Columbians. The BC SUPPORT Unit will collaborate with its counterparts in other provinces and territories to create a pan-Canadian platform for supporting patient-oriented research through the sharing of information and best practices. Together with its partners, the BC SUPPORT Unit will provide services for researchers, patients, health care providers, and health system decision-makers.

The BC SUPPORT Unit was developed under Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), with support from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and provincial partners.


"I strongly believe that innovation is essential to improving health care. Through initiatives such as Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, we are promoting innovation, fostering collaboration, and helping ensure that we address the health care needs of Canadians."
Jane Philpott
Canada's Minister of Health

"Patients are at the heart of our health care system, so it's time to focus on research that meets their needs best and that is what the SUPPORT Unit is all about. The Unit will build on the work already underway through our #BCTECH strategy, which is implementing key actions that will improve researchers' access to data and support more patient-oriented research right here in B.C."
Terry Lake
B.C. Minister of Health

"British Columbia has remarkable strengths in health research. We are enormously pleased to be leveraging these strengths in establishing a SUPPORT Unit in the province. The SUPPORT Unit will make important contributions to the SPOR initiative and make a difference for patients in B.C."
Dr. Jane E. Aubin
Chief Scientific Officer and Vice-President, Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

"Our main role is to support these groups in engaging patients much more often in how research is planned and how it's conducted. We're also taking on important roles in helping researchers do their work faster and transfer the knowledge they gain to the health system sooner."
Dermot Kelleher
Board Member, BC SUPPORT Unit/BC Academic Health Science Network
Dean, UBC Faculty of Medicine

"I'm proud to be contributing my personal, professional, and patient-journey experience to the development and operation of the BC SUPPORT Unit. By increasing meaningful integration of patient collaborators into the design and delivery of health research, the BC SUPPORT Unit provides another needed reminder to all health care sectors that patient-benefit is the ultimate point of everything they do."
Kent C. Loftsgard
Member, BC SUPPORT Unit Patient Engagement Working Group

Quick Facts

  • SPOR is a pan-Canadian coalition of partners from the public and private sector – all dedicated to the integration of research into care.
  • Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units are one of the core elements of the initiative. These Units provide the resources, services and expertise necessary to pursue patient-oriented research and help lead reforms in response to locally-driven health care needs.

Related Products


Associated Links

Canada's Strategy on Patient-Oriented Research

BC SUPPORT Unit: Advancing Patient-Oriented Research




SUPPORT Units (Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials Units) are a core element of Canada's national Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

SUPPORT Units are locally accessible, multidisciplinary clusters of specialized research resources, policy knowledge, and patient perspective.

SUPPORT Units provide the necessary expertise to pursue patient-oriented research and help lead reforms in response to locally-driven health care needs. They also lead and facilitate decision-making within the health services setting, foster the implementation of best practices, and promote collaboration among researchers engaged in patient-oriented research.

Specific objectives:

  • Identify and address the needs of patients and knowledge users by facilitating patient-oriented research
  • Provide specialized and multidisciplinary methodological expertise in patient-oriented research and its application
  • Assist decision makers and researchers to identify and design research studies, conduct bio-statistical analyses, manage data, provide and teach project management skills, and ensure studies meet regulatory standards
  • Advance methods and training in comparative effectiveness research and develop the next generation of methodologists
  • Provide timely access to data including linked datasets and integrate existing or new databases

BC SUPPORT Unit – Advancing Patient-Oriented Research

Funding and In-Kind Support

Government of Canada: $39,980,000

Government of British Columbia and other provincial partners: $39,980,000

Total: $79,960,000 over five years

Structure and Operations

The BC SUPPORT Unit (the Unit) is a multi-partner organization created to support, streamline and increase patient-oriented research throughout BC.

We define patient-oriented research as research that engages patients as partners and focuses on patient-identified priorities with the goals of improving patient experiences, health outcomes and the health system.

The Unit is one of several SUPPORT Units established across the country as part of Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It's also part of the developing BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) with the network's board providing governance and oversight.

The Unit has two main roles: providing services to researchers, patients, health care providers and health system decision makers, and facilitating initiatives identified as provincial priorities.

Along with partner organizations, a provincial hub based in Vancouver serves stakeholders within the Vancouver region and provides province-wide services. Regional centres are being developed to be the first point of contact for stakeholders located outside of the Vancouver region.

Services, being introduced gradually, will include supporting patient engagement, research navigation, data access and use, knowledge translation, and training and capacity development.

The Unit is also creating methods clusters (methodological communities of practice), and helping fund, plan and facilitate access to a multi-partner provincial data platform that will be separate but integral to the Unit.


The BC SUPPORT Unit is made possible through a broad collaboration of partners:

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Government of British Columbia


  • Fraser Health Authority
  • Interior Health Authority
  • Northern Health Authority
  • Vancouver Island Health Authority


  • Simon Fraser University
  • UBC Faculty of Medicine
  • UBC Okanagan
  • University of Northern BC
  • University of Victoria


  • BC Patient Centred Measurement
  • BC Children's Hospital Research Institute
  • Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation
  • Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences
  • Clinical & Systems Transformation
  • InspireNet
  • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
  • Population Data BC
  • Rural Coordination Centre of BC

BC SUPPORT Unit Mission

To support the conduct and implementation of high quality patient-oriented research

BC SUPPORT Unit Goals & Objectives

  1. Build capacity to conduct and implement high quality patient-oriented research in all regions of the province
    1. Create opportunities for collaboration on patient-oriented research among decisions makers, patients, providers and researchers
    2. Offer regionally-relevant services and support to teams engaged in patient-oriented research
    3. Offer patient-oriented research-related training for decision makers, patients, providers and researchers
    4. Increase the availability and utility of data and related services for patient-oriented research
  2. Increase the quality and impact of patient-oriented research across BC
    1. Launch priority projects enabling the study of patient-oriented research
    2. Facilitate and study two initial demonstration projects
    3. Develop and foster improvement of patient-oriented research methods across BC
    4. Develop a system change management plan in collaboration with the BC AHSN
  3. Ensure ongoing support for patient-oriented research in all regions of the province
    1. Raise awareness of the importance of and benefits that come from patient-oriented research
    2. Develop a BC SUPPORT Unit sustainability plan


SOURCE Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information: Andrew MacKendrick, Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, Government of Canada, 613-957-0200; Media Relations, Ministry of Health, Government of British Columbia, 250-952-1887; Jessie Kaur, BC SUPPORT Unit, 604-803-1406,; Media Relations, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 613-941-4563,


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890