June 21, 2022
Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate. In the fall of 2020, an expert advisory group was established to provide advice on the development of a pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to support the effective creation, exchange and use of health data. A year ago I asked a question in this chamber about the steps that the federal government has taken to develop the strategy and to address the serious gaps found in Canada’s current health data system. To this day, I have not yet received a response on this matter.
Senator Gold, the Pan-Canadian Health Strategy Expert Advisory Group published its third and final report on May 3, 2022, which includes ten recommendations to strengthen Canada’s health data system. How will the federal government implement these recommendations to advance the strategy?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. I regret that you have not received an answer. I will certainly follow up to see whether it dropped off the list as a result of circumstances. I will make inquiries as to your question and report back on the status of the government’s response to those recommendations.
Senator Seidman: Of course, the reason that I am asking is because the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the inequities that exist in Canada’s health data system. The absence of national standards for the collection and sharing of health data hindered Canada’s ability to successfully measure the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, track the emergence of new variants and assess long-term complications from COVID-19.
In a Globe and Mail article published on June 4, 2022, health experts warned that the lack of data collection could hinder our ability to understand and find therapeutic options for long COVID.
Senator Gold, the need for a robust national health data system is evident. What steps will the federal government take to address the barriers that impact Canada’s ability to collect, share and analyze health data?
Senator Gold: Again, I do not know what steps the government will be taking, but I would assume that these steps will be the fruit of discussions and consultations with provinces and territories, which have primary constitutional responsibility and jurisdiction over the collection, management and protection of health data of citizens. I will try to get an answer and report back.