CEO Deb Gordon talks about the role of data in enhancing Canada’s health workforce

Data is to health care as sun is to summer. One isn’t as good without the other.
Data can tell us how people in Canada are using our health system. It can show us where resources are needed most, what interventions are having an impact, and where the health workforce needs support.

That’s why as interim CEO of Health Workforce Canada, I was so pleased our organization could partner with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), Statistics Canada, and the Health Data Research Network Canada (HDRN) on a recent webinar connecting health data, research and planning. More than 430 people, including researchers, planners, decision makers, and health professionals registered for the online event to talk about what health workforce data is available in Canada now, how to access it, and how best to use it. And we had a good discussion on privacy considerations when working with health workforce data, which is always paramount.

Clearly there is a need for more and better timely data, and Canada has work to do to make our health workforce data foundation stronger. But we don’t need to wait for better data to make inroads for a healthier health workforce. We need to start with the data we’ve got, enhance access to it, and then improve over time. And we look forward to partnering with all of our stakeholders to advance this important work for the future.

Health Workforce Canada was created in recognition of the need to bring together health workforce experts and those in the health care field to learn from each other and strengthen health workforce data and planning.

The road to better data is a long one, but in the short term we are working on the development of a one-stop-shop interactive health workforce data dashboard for Canada that can be enhanced over time as the data foundation grows stronger. Some early modules will include supply and distribution and workload metrics such as overtime and vacancy rates, where the data are already available. We will add to this a health workforce policy intervention tracker and a data catalogue, so people know where to look.

It’s exciting to see the attention and focus researchers are bringing to the health workforce. So many have contributed to this space already and now more will join during this pivotal time in our health care system.

There will be continued opportunities for this conversation, including at the upcoming Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) 2024 conference in Ottawa, May 14 -16. Health Workforce Canada will be hosting a listening and learning lunch session and we hope you can join us.

Deb Gordon

Interim CEO

Health Workforce Canada