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About the Healthier Societies Initiative

McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP) operates the Healthier Societies Initiative (HSI), a research program whose mission is to inform the broader community on health care issues related to increasing costs, quality and access in Canada and other leading economies.

Understanding what engenders a “healthy” society requires in-depth knowledge of the interactions between health and social policies, health system characteristics, health expenditures, and socioeconomic determinants of health, among other factors.

The mission of the Healthier Societies Initiative (HSI) is to identify health and social policy solutions that address rising health care costs and concomitantly improve population health outcomes and equity.


Health care costs have been rising in most OECD countries over the past three decades. This challenge is likely to persist given other coincident economic, demographic, and epidemiologic trends, including reductions in government revenues, the demographic aging of populations, and increases in chronic disease morbidity.

The Canadian context reflects these broader international trends. For example, in their latest report on health costs in Canada (Health Care Cost Drivers: The Facts – 2011), the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) showed that Canadian health care costs are growing at a faster rate than economic growth and government revenues. This places direct pressure on provinces and territories to realize health cost savings.

The Healthier Societies Initiative is a research program of the Institute of Health and Social Policy (IHSP) at McGill University. The cross-faculty project was initiated through the leadership and generosity of McGill’s Chancellor, H. Arnold Steinberg, CM.

Recent News
From <em>The Toronto Star</em>…
From The Toronto Star…
Posted 74 days ago

Doctors at St. Mike's launch project to address root causes of poor health
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth, Sunday 14 December 2014
Click here for the full article.

From <em>The Gazette</em>…
From The Gazette…
Posted 143 days ago

Online self-screening test for students will help detect mental health problems
McGill University and the Université de Montréal announced new initiatives Tuesday to help students deal with mental health issues
Marian Scott,…

HSI Health Data Blog: Mental Health in Canada Interactive Infographic
HSI Health Data Blog: Mental Health in Canada Interactive In…
Posted 155 days ago

According to 2012 Statistics Canada data, nearly one-third (33.1%) of Canadians have been affected by either mental illness or substance abuse issues in their lifetimes. Many of those living with…

HSI Health Data Blog: Chronic Conditions, Co-Morbidity, and Healthcare Utilization
HSI Health Data Blog: Chronic Conditions, Co-Morbidity, and …
Posted 235 days ago

Chronic health conditions affect nearly one half of Canadians aged thirty-five and over, and the proportion of Canadians diagnosed with such conditions is only expected to grow in the coming…

From <em>CBC News</em>…
From CBC News…
Posted 248 days ago

Teen smokers choose 'kid-friendly' flavours
Amina Zafar, Health, Thursday 19 June 2014
Click here for the full article.
Click here to read more about the study cited in this article.

From <em>The Globe and Mail</em>…
From The Globe and Mail…
Posted 249 days ago

More time spent sitting down linked to heightened cancer risk
Kathryn Doyle, Health, Wednesday 18 June 2014
Click here for the full article.


The HSI Approach

Public Tools

HSI builds intuitive and interactive tools to help the public better understand their health system, both through comparisons with other countries and sub-nationally.

Primary Research

HSI conducts comparative health policy research to better understand which health and social policies best promote population health, health equity, and the sustainability of health systems.


HSI is dedicated to the training of undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students in health policy analysis.