2019–20 Departmental Plan: Raison d'être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Raison d’être

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. It was created in June 2000 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act with a mandate “to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.”

CIHR's mandate seeks to transform health research in Canada, in an ethically sound manner, by:

CIHR funds research excellence through its core responsibility of Funding Health Research and Training and its three Programs:

The Minister of Health is responsible for this organization.

Mandate and role

CIHR integrates research through a unique interdisciplinary structure made up of 13 “virtual” institutes. These institutes are not “bricks and mortar” buildings but, rather, communities of experts in specific areas. Collectively, the institutes support a broad spectrum of research: biomedical, clinical, health systems and services, and the social, cultural and environmental factors that affect the health of populations. Institutes form national research networks linking researchers, funders and knowledge users across Canada in order to work collaboratively on priority areas.

As Canada’s health research funding agency, CIHR makes an essential contribution to the Minister of Health’s overall responsibilities by funding the research and knowledge translation needed to inform the evolution of Canadian health policy and regulation, and by taking an advisory role on research and innovation issues. This is achieved through an extensive and growing set of linkages within the Health Portfolio, notably with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, to provide decision-makers with access to high-quality and timely health research outcomes and results.

CIHR also works closely with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the two granting councils of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development portfolio, to share information and coordinate efforts, harmonize practices, avoid duplication and foster multidisciplinary research. The three organizations (referred to as “Tri-Agency”) provide a channel for the implementation of common policies, practices and approaches, whenever possible.

CIHR’s Governing Council (GC) sets the strategic directions of the Agency and is responsible for evaluating its performance. Leadership on research and knowledge translation is provided by the Science Council (SC), while leadership on corporate policy and management is provided by the Senior leadership Committee (SLC).

For more information on the organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister’s mandate letter.

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