About health indicators

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This publication, produced jointly by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), is a compilation of over 80 indicators measuring health status, non-medical determinants of health, health system performance and community and health system characteristics.

These indicators are produced at the health region level, as well as at provincial, territorial and Canada levels. Data used to calculate the indicators are the most recently available and represent a wide range of sources including the Census, surveys and administrative records.


In 1998, over 500 people – health administrators, researchers, caregivers, government officials, health advocacy groups, and consumers – were brought together to identify health information needs. One of their priorities was comparable quality data on key health indicators for health and health services.

In response, Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Statistics Canada launched a collaborative process to identify what measures should be used to report on health and the health system. As a first step, and in order to gain a better understanding of the types of indicators to develop and report, the first Consensus Conference on Population Health Indicators was convened in May 1999. This conference resulted in an initial core set of indicators, as well as a list of indicators that could be considered for future development (see National Consensus Conference on Population Health Indicators) available from www.cihi.ca/indicators.

Five years on, priorities and directions for the health indicator project were broadly revisited at a second consensus conference held in March 2004 (see The Health Indicators Project: The Next Five Years) available from www.cihi.ca/indicators.

The third consensus conference was held in March 2009.

Health indicators are:

  • relevant to established health goals;
  • based on standard (comparable) definitions and methods;
  • broadly available – disseminated electronically across Canada at the regional, provincial and national level.

The primary goal of the Health Indicators project is to support health regions in monitoring progress in improving and maintaining the health of the population and the functioning of the health system for which they are responsible through the provision of quality, comparative information on:

  • the overall health of the population served, how it compares with other regions in the province and country, and how it is changing over time;
  • the major non-medical determinants of health in the region;
  • the health services received by the region's residents; and
  • characteristics of the community or the health system.

Consultations continue with provincial and regional health authorities to ensure relevant data and consistent methods.

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