Federal government extends CAN Health Network in Ontario, brings program to Atlantic Canada

The federal government is investing a cumulative $5.45 million into the CAN Health Network program. The investment is intended to extend the program in Ontario by one year and bring the program to Atlantic Canada.

“It is initiatives like these that position us to tackle our most pressing healthcare issues.”

The government’s investment consists of $3.25 million for the Trillium Health Partners in Ontario and $2.2 million for the Horizon Health Network in Atlantic Canada. The Ontario and Atlantic Canada investments are being made through FedDev Ontario and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, respectively.

The CAN Health Network is aimed at reducing barriers to procurement so healthtech companies can quickly and easily bring their innovations to the healthcare sector. Through the network, health networks across Canada use government funding to support firms in bringing their technology and science-based solutions to market.

The program currently operates in Ontario, Western Canada, and now in Atlantic Canada, with plans to expand to Québec and the North in order to build a national platform for the network.

The federal government made an initial $3.5 million investment to grow the CAN Health Network in Ontario in 2019, which helped 15 companies bring solutions to market. With this extension, total support for the program in Ontario totals $6.75 million. The government said an additional 10 companies will receive support through the network.

In June, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng signalled she was open to expanding the network, telling BetaKit the government was looking to the network as an example of how similar initiatives could be undertaken in different sectors.

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“Today’s investment will boost an existing network that is instrumental in helping nurture some of Canada’s most promising health sciences ventures,” said Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development, and official languages. “It is initiatives like these that position us to tackle our most pressing healthcare issues and develop made-in-Canada solutions while helping us stay at the forefront of healthcare innovation.”

Procurement in the Canadian healthcare sector has been a longstanding issue for companies looking to bring their innovations to healthcare institutions. A 2016 survey of Ontario’s 23 academic research hospitals found the majority of respondents reported policies, directives, and procurement regulations as “major hurdles” to adopting innovation within their organizations.

Over the last few years, experts have pointed to Canada’s “extremely rigorous” procurement standards for healthcare that make it exceedingly difficult for tech companies to make deals with healthcare institutions.

Image source Minister Ng via Facebook.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.