CHWN Policy Briefs

HESA brief image 
Canadian Health Workforce Network on Canada's Health Workforce 

The importance of Canada’s health workforce
Health workers are essential to healthy and productive societies. Through prevention efforts and the care
they provide, health workers save, extend and improve the quality of patients’ lives. Properly staffed,
well-functioning health-care systems make for healthy workers, high productivity, and a strong economy.
In Canada, health workers account for more than 10 per cent of all employment and over two-thirds of all
health-care spending, which amounted to $175 billion in 2019, or nearly eight per cent of Canada’s total
GDP.1 Recognizing these facts, all levels of government play an important role in sound policy
development, strategic health workforce planning, and health system stewardship.

April 2022

Alliance brief image 
Canada's Health Workforce Digital Research Infrastructure Ecosystem: Building the Foundation for Canadian Health
Workforce 
Science & Informed Decision-Making 

Current State of Health Workforce Science in Canada
Health workers are the foundation of all health systems and as such, robust health workforce science is
critical to making the best decisions about this essential human resource. Health workers account for
more than 10% of all employed Canadians and over 2/3 of all health care spending, not including the
personal and public cost to their training. That amounts to $175 billion in 2019 or nearly 8% of Canada’s
total GDP.1 Despite the critical role the health workforce plays in society, health workforce research
secures less than 3% of health services and policy research funds,2 and investments in necessary data
infrastructure from governments have not materialized. As a result, Canada lags behind comparable OECD
countries including the UK, Australia and the US in terms of health workforce data and digital analytics.3
The significant gaps in our knowledge about the health workforce have been exposed during the COVID19
pandemic causing systemic risks for planners to manage during a health crisis.

March 2022