FREDERICTON (GNB) – The federal government and the three Maritime provincial governments today announced a total of $16.1 million over five years in funding and in-kind support for the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit, a hub for patient-oriented health research.

The provincial government is investing $2.5 million.

This investment is provided as part of SPOR (Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research), a pan-Canadian initiative dedicated to integrating the voices of patients in research and health care. SPOR is led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research with support from partners across the country. SPOR Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units are located across the country.

“This initiative integrates patient voices in research and health care and is a vital step forward for patient-centric care in our province,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “For every dollar our government invests in research, we get a five-dollar return in economic spinoff and jobs. This kind of investment in the knowledge economy attracts world-class clinicians to our province and supports a heath system where evidence is used to inform the care we provide.”

Shephard joined federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos for today’s announcement.

“In order to provide Canadians with high-quality health care, we need research evidence to tell us what works,” said Duclos. “Patients, caregivers, and families help get at this evidence by adding their lived experience to the research process. When patients, researchers, and health-care professionals combine their expertise and experience, that’s when we are truly able to make a difference in patients’ lives.”

The Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit has contributed to 56 projects related to COVID-19. For example, it supported a study to better understand how the needs of patients and primary-care providers are being met, and what lessons COVID has provided about improving the way people access primary care.

With the assistance of patients, the unit also produced reports on how the pandemic has affected the mental health of people in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The research results are informing how the provincial governments allocate resources to help people at risk for mental health and substance use challenges.

Shephard said this new investment will help the Maritime unit continue this work and bring it to the next level, ensuring patients have a greater say in setting research priorities, that they are involved in more aspects of the research process, and that the knowledge from research is applied to improve health care and patient outcomes.

Since 2013, the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit has played a role building regional capacity in patient-oriented research in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.