May 17, 2023

Notice of Upcoming Funding Opportunity

Strengthening the Health Workforce for System Transformation

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and partners are pleased to announce the upcoming Strengthening the Health Workforce for System Transformation funding opportunity. This pre-announcement contains information on the funding opportunity for potential applicants.


CIHR’s Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (IHSPR), in partnership with the Institute of Aging (IA), the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH), the Centre for Research on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies (CRPPHE), and Michael Smith Health Research BC.


Canada is facing substantial health workforce challenges that threatens the ability of the system to provide timely, equitable, accessible, quality services and care to Canadians. These challenges reflect a combination of factors characteristic of an unorganized and fragmented system that has been further stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include supply shortages, sub-optimal capacity planning, inequitable workforce utilization and distribution, governance and funding models that do not support care coordination or interprofessional team-based care, lack of system support to respond to provider distress and burnout, and lack of interoperable data standards and systems.

This funding opportunity will support research that strengthens the health workforce, which is an essential component of advancing the Quadruple Aim and health equity for health system transformation. The research will be led by teams who will inform the implementation, evaluation and/or spread/scale (share) of evidence-informed workforce solutions that address system level challenges (e.g., system organization, governance, accountability, remuneration, capacity building).

This funding opportunity relates to all aspects of the health workforce, including expanded and interprofessional scopes of practice (e.g., nurse practitioners, paramedics, physician assistants, social support workers, allied health professionals, administrative staff), professions (e.g., regulated and unregulated), paid and unpaid workers, composition and distribution of workforce supply (e.g., sociodemographic factors, geographic regions) and sectors (primary, home and community-based care, long-term care, hospital care, and public health). In the context of this funding opportunity, the solution must primarily focus on the health provider, team and/or role and not disease specific care pathways.


The specific objectives of this funding opportunity are to:

  • Produce evidence on the implementation, evaluation, spread and/or scale of promising equity-focused solutions that strengthen the health workforce as a key component of advancing the Quadruple Aim and health equity.
  • Build capacity and catalyze strong, interdisciplinary, and interprofessional research teams working to support a healthy, resilient, diverse, and equitable, health workforce.
  • Spark collaborations that build and/or strengthen co-design and partnerships between researchers, the health workforce, and policy and decision-makers with a shared goal in supporting evidence-informed workforce solutions.
  • Foster knowledge mobilization to inform timely uptake and maximize impact of the research by identifying effective and sustainable solutions.

Relevant Research Areas

Funded projects are asked to align with one or more of the six themes identified in Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) 2023 Assessment on Health Human Resourceswhich was commissioned by Health Canada. These six CAHS themes include (please see website for more details): Indigenous Peoples and Communities; Rural and Remote Communities; Systemically Disadvantaged Populations; Support and Retention; Deployment and Service Delivery; and Planning and Development.

In addition, successful projects must align with one or more of the following specific research areas:

  • IHSPR health workforce
  • Indigenous health workforce
  • Pediatric workforce
  • Public health workforce
  • Rural and Remote Health workforce
  • Aging workforce
  • Workforce that cares for an aging population
  • Cancer health workforce

Additional information on each funding pool will be provided in the funding opportunity.

Successful teams will incorporate the following core elements in their design and approach:

  1. A focus on innovative health workforce solutions that address a system or policy level workforce challenge
  2. Are equity-focused in the implementation and analysis of the solution’s impacts
  3. A co-design model with a tripartite team comprised of researchers and knowledge users (providers and policy/decision makers)
  4. Methods and strategies related to Implementation science, Learning Health Systems, complexity science, patient-oriented research approaches
  5. Teams must develop a patient and community engagement plan that aligns with the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Patient Engagement Framework; and
  6. Teams must engage in rapid response research to meet urgent evidence needs identified by knowledge users on the team

Supplemental funding

Available for one of the funded teams to build an Evidence Support and Knowledge Mobilization (ESKM) Hub to support the timely dissemination, exchange, and uptake of evidence into policy and practice. The EKSM Hub will support and amplify the knowledge mobilization strategies of the funded teams, ensure knowledge users’ rapid access to evidence, and support knowledge exchange among funded and other relevant knowledge user communities.


For an application to be eligible:

  • The Nominated Principal Applicant (NPA) must be appointed at an eligible institution.
  • The core leadership team must include among its NPA, Principal Knowledge User (PKU(s)), Principal Applicants (PA) and Knowledge Users (KU):
    • Researcher with scientific expertise in the health workforce.
    • Health system decision maker with decision making authority about the workforce and capacity to make significant changes to practice or policy
    • Health worker currently active and practicing care delivery with experience in area of focus.
  • Applicant team must include at least one Early Career Researcher
  • For applications addressing Indigenous health workforce solutions, the team must include NPA and PKU applicant(s) who are Indigenous community-based groups or non-governmental organizations, or individuals who self-identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit or Métis) and/or provides evidence of having meaningful and culturally safe involvement

Refer to the funding opportunity for the complete set of eligibility criteria.

Funds Available

The anticipated total amount available from CIHR is $8,625,000 to fund a maximum of eleven (11) team grants and one (1) ESKM Hub. The maximum annual amount per team grant is $750,000 for a duration of three (3) years. The maximum amount for the ESKM Hub is $375,000 for a duration of three (3) years. These amounts are subject to change.

Anticipated Timelines*

Program Launch: June 2023
Webinar for more information on how to apply: TBC
Full Application Deadline: November 2023

Notice of Decisions: May 2024

Funding Start Date: June 2024

*These timelines are estimates and subject to change