Circumpolar Health System Innovations Team

Area of Research: 
Health services & systems


To provide research evidence to enable the transformation of primary health care in remote northern communities in Canada.


Health care in Canada’s North faces considerable challenges with its remote and widely dispersed population, harsh environmental conditions, and thinly deployed health professionals. Despite per capita expenditures that are among the highest in the world, health outcomes continue to lag behind the rest of Canada, and health disparities between the Aboriginal and non-aboriginal population within the North continue to persist. While improving the health of Northerners requires addressing underlying social determinants, transforming the health care system holds promise in the short and medium term. The evidence required to inform a northern-focused and relevant transformation, however, remains to be generated. Our proposal in community-based primary health care is timely and addresses a priority identified by Northerners.

The proposed Circumpolar Health Systems Innovation Team (CircHSIT) builds on substantial prior Canadian-focused research generated over the past decade and responds to recent renewed interest in Arctic issues by the federal government and among Canadians. It builds on considerable prior collaboration, particularly the just completed circumpolar health system review, which describes the key features of northern health care in 8 Arctic States and identifies cross-cutting themes for further research. Canada can learn from its circumpolar neighbours, and vice versa. The recently released report on Canada’s strategic role in global health identified circumpolar and Aboriginal health as a Canadian strength and one of five strategic opportunities. The North can learn from the global health research community while solutions developed in the North can benefit other remote regions globally.