Health researchers working to improve the lives of the most vulnerable Canadians

Minister Clement announces over $14 million in funding for the study of health inequalities faced by children, rural and northern youth, seniors and Aboriginal peoples

This press release is also available in French.

VANCOUVER - The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health has announced the recipients of 20 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) health research grants worth over $14 million to study health disparities among Canada's most vulnerable populations. Minister Clement made the announcement by video presentation during the opening ceremony of the Canadian Public Health Association's 97th Annual Conference being held in Vancouver from May 28th to 31st.

"The Government of Canada's investment in these research projects will not only help vulnerable people lead longer, healthier, and more productive lives; it will also help build stronger communities and a better society," said Minister Clement.

"The better we understand the social, cultural, economic and environmental determinants of health, the better equipped we will be to engage in more effective interventions and reduce pressures on the health care system," said Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of CIHR.

The 20 health research projects funded across Canada underwent a rigorous peer-review process before being approved. They exemplify CIHR's comprehensive, problem-based approach to funding excellence in health research. The funded researchers will undertake this research over periods of three to five years and include the following:

  • Drs. Clyde Hertzman, Edith Chen, Amedeo D'Angiulli, and Susan Dahinten (University of British Columbia) and their team are investigating the role of socioeconomic, gender-related, ethnic and geographic inequalities on children's health and educational development.
  • Dr. Jean Shoveller (University of British Columbia) and her team is investigating the needs of rural and northern youth who face major health challenges related to sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies at an early age.
  • Dr. Brenda D. Elias (University of Manitoba) and her team are studying health indicators of First Nations peoples. Their work may lead to the development of a comprehensive national First Nations health report card.
  • Drs. Paula A. Rochon (Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto) and Geoffrey M. Anderson (Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto) and their team are studying how ethnicity influences health and well-being among older adults.
  • Drs. Danielle Julien and William Ryan (Université du Québec à Montréal) and their team are examining how social conditions, discrimination and homophobia influence the physical and mental health of sexual minorities.

Differences in health status result from a range of social, cultural and economic determinants and their interactions. Specific groups of people suffer a burden of illness and distress greater than other residents of Canada. For this reason, they can be characterized as "vulnerable populations". The poor, the homeless, Aboriginal peoples, immigrants, refugees, the disabled, people with stigmatizing conditions, the elderly, children and youth in disadvantaged circumstances, people with poor literacy skills, and women in precarious circumstances are all vulnerable populations.

"Canadians and the Canadian health care system will benefit greatly from this innovative and important research," said Dr. Miriam Stewart, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) and CIHR lead for the national reducing health disparities initiative. "These research teams will deepen our understanding of the factors that lead to the extensive health inequalities that persist in Canada and in other countries. This research evidence will inform programs, practice and policy at local, provincial and national levels and lead to the development of more effective interventions for many affected populations".

CIHR launched the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative in 2001 to support outstanding research aimed at reducing health inequalities in Canada. Over the last four years, this CIHR-led initiative has supported over 400 researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. The CIHR Reducing Health Disparities - Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Grants program provides support for groups committed to building teams with expertise in diverse and complementary disciplines and interested in supporting the application of knowledge into effective policies and programs.

"Canadians who live in poverty, including children, single parents, the elderly, and Aboriginal peoples are more likely to have poor health status," said Dr. John Frank, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH). "The health research projects announced today hold the promise of informing effective solutions to prevent illness and improving the health and quality of life of those Canadians who need it most."


The Reducing Health Disparities Initiative is a national initiative led by CIHR's Institutes of Gender and Health (CIHR-IGH) (lead) and Population and Public Health (CIHR-IPPH) (co-lead) in collaboration with numerous international and national partners. Partners include Health Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Population Health Initiative, Human Resources and Social Development's National Homelessness Initiative, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Task Group on Health Disparities, Statistics Canada, the John E. Fogarty International Centre of the National Institutes of Health (U.S.) and the Instituto Nacional de Mexico (Mexico). With an emphasis on high quality research, the involvement of policy-makers, practitioners and general community, and the transfer of useful knowledge, the Initiative aims to contribute to national and international efforts to overcome health status inequities.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 10,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

The following documents are available at:

Grant Allocations Chart
artners Backgrounder

Marie-France Poirier, CIHR Media Relations, (613) 941-4563 or (613) 447-4794
Eric Waddell, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Tony Clement, (613) 957-0200

Ce document est également disponible en français.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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