Strengthening health research in the Maritimes: SUPPORT Unit builds foundation for patient-oriented research

May 25, 2015 – Moncton, New Brunswick – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Robert Goguen, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe today announced the launch of the Maritime Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research SUPPORT Unit on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health. Parliamentary Secretary Goguen was joined by the Honourable Victor Boudreau, New Brunswick’s Minister of Health, Michel Perron, Vice-President, External Affairs and Business Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Dr. Adrian Levy, Nominated Principal Investigator of the SUPPORT Unit. 

SUPPORT (Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials) Units are provincial or regional centres that connect patients, researchers, policy makers, funders, and health care professionals to facilitate patient-oriented research and to help attract, train, and mentor patient-oriented researchers.

Ultimately, the SUPPORT Units are about improving health outcomes for patients. They provide the guidance and resources needed for health research to improve health care practices, therapies, and policies.  They ensure new and innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches are applied when and where needed, and best practices are shared across jurisdictions for the benefit of Canadian patients.

The Maritime SUPPORT Unit is based at Dalhousie University in Halifax and it involves universities, hospitals and health ministries in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The SUPPORT Unit team will work with its provincial partners to identify and address research priorities for patients in the region. As an example of their work, the SUPPORT Unit will evaluate the impact of regionalization on total hip and knee replacement and cardiac surgical procedures across the Maritime provinces.

Quick Facts

  • The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) is a national coalition of federal, provincial and territorial partners (patient advocates, provincial health authorities, academic health centres, charities, philanthropic organizations, pharmaceutical sector) dedicated to the integration of research into care. CIHR is leading this effort on behalf of the Government of Canada.
  • SPOR is about ensuring that the right patient receives the right treatment at the right time.
  • The Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit will receive $17.2 million from the Government of Canada and the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.  With this funding, the SUPPORT Unit will facilitate research on health care practices, therapies, and policies to better improve patient care.
  • SUPPORT Units help lead system changes to respond to locally-driven health care needs, and also support the development of new and innovative research methods.  
  • Data platforms will be put in place within the SUPPORT Unit to ensure that researchers have access to quality data. 
  • All provinces and territories are working collaboratively on this cross-Canada initiative, with SUPPORT Units to be established in regions throughout the country.
  • The Government of Canada is the largest single investor in health research in Canada and the largest single investor in SPOR.  Currently, CIHR is supporting more than 13,700 health researchers and trainees across Canada.


“Our Government is pleased to support the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research and the roll-out of the SUPPORT Units across the country.  This Maritime SUPPORT Unit is a collaborative effort of the three Maritime provinces and exemplifies the spirit of cooperation that is fundamental to the success of SPOR. By joining together to share innovations and best practices, we will build better health systems and improve health outcomes for patients.”
Robert Goguen
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe

“This collaborative effort between all three Maritime provinces will enhance the health and well-being of individuals and populations in the Maritimes, including New Brunswick through research. Our investment will help create jobs to support research capacity building in New Brunswick and expand the use of health data and application of patient-centered outcomes research.”
Victor Boudreau
Minister of Health, Government of New Brunswick

“Our health care system must find better ways to help people get well, and stay healthy. By investing in research and applying those findings to our policy and practice, we know we are finding the best ways to improve patient care and the health of our residents, and sharing that information across the Maritimes.”
 Leo Glavine
Minister of Health and Wellness, Government of Nova Scotia

“As a region, we share many health challenges and opportunities and we appreciate this opportunity to learn from each other through Maritime-based health research” 
Doug Currie
Minister of Health and Wellness, Government of Prince Edward Island 

“The Maritime provinces have been enthusiastic supporters of SPOR since the very beginning of this initiative, and I commend the research communities of each province for their leadership and commitment to work together.  Patients throughout the Maritimes will benefit from the SUPPORT Unit that we are announcing today, which will ensure that evidenced-based research can be best used to improve health care delivery and patient care.”
Michel Perron
Vice-President, External Affairs and Business Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

As we have demonstrated with our first project, SPOR units like ours have great potential to harness the innovation of the strong community of researchers in the Maritimes. By helping build their collaboration and expertise, we are working to ensure every patient in the Maritimes has access to the best care.       
Dr. Adrian Levy
Nominated Principal Investigator, Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit

Associated Links

Canada’s Strategy on Patient-Oriented Research

Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit


Michael Bolkenius
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Wendy Waltes
Communication Advisor
Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,700 health researchers and trainees across Canada.