A Canadian first: Measuring access to mental health and addictions services and to home and community care

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) welcomes the federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) health ministers’* endorsement of a focused set of indicators to measure pan-Canadian progress toward improving access to mental health and addictions services and to home and community care.

As part of its commitment set out in the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities, CIHI is working closely with the FPT governments to support the development of these health indicators. Health indicators are measures designed to summarize information about health system performance or population health. They provide comparable information and can track changes over time. For nearly 25 years, CIHI has been collecting, analyzing and publishing data to support provinces/territories, regional health authorities and institutions as they track the function of their local health systems.

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The endorsement of these sets of common indicators to measure access to mental health and addictions services and to home and community care marks a significant milestone in Canadian health care. Over the next 10 years, CIHI will work with FPT governments to report annually to the Canadian public on these indicators. For community mental health and addictions, the selected set of indicators includes measures related to

  • Wait times
  • Early intervention for youth
  • Understanding of services available
  • Access to effective community care
  • Addictions
  • Self-injury, including suicide

For home and community care, the indicator set includes measures related to

  • Wait times
  • Appropriate care settings
  • Effectiveness of home care
  • Caregiver experiences
  • End-of-life care

“We are very pleased with the health ministers’ endorsement, as it marks a significant step toward gathering the data needed to improve access to services and support in 2 sectors that are clearly important to Canadians,” remarked David O’Toole, President and CEO, CIHI. “We look forward to continuing our efforts with the FPT governments and measurement experts to develop and report indicators that will allow leaders across the health sector to make decisions for the benefit of Canadians.”

In 2019, CIHI will begin annual reporting for the selected indicators where data is currently available. Where required, CIHI will continue to work with FPT governments to define the methodology for indicator calculation and to identify new data sources to enable comparable reporting.

* The federal government has agreed to an asymmetrical arrangement with Quebec, distinct from the Common Statement of Principles. In addition, given the transition to a new government in Ontario, the province cannot officially endorse the recommendations.