Research: Priority Setting (Resource Allocation)

No health system can afford to pay for every service it wishes to provide. Today, priority setting, (aka rationing or resource allocation) is the most important health policy issue and is centre stage in Canada in the deliberations of the Kirby and Romanow Commissions. Priority setting occurs at all levels of every healthcare system.


The JCB priority setting research platform is the¬†Canadian Priority Setting Research Network¬†. The CPSRN’s vision is to strengthen the Canadian health system by improving the politics and processes of healthcare priority setting and enhance research capacity in regard to priority setting. The nature of our work engages both researchers and decision-makers using an approach that is collaborative, constructive, and practical.


Our approach is innovative in three ways:

  1. Both information and institutional processes are important in priority setting, however too much attention is paid to developing information. We are focused on complementing information-focused approaches by enhancing priority setting processes.
  2. Other initiatives are focused on developing and disseminating information and tools. We are focused on capturing and sharing lessons derived from actual priority setting experiences.
  3. Finally, other initiatives are focused at the level of national health systems – i.e. improving priority setting from the top-down. Our premise is that health systems consist of their constituent institutions, and priority setting occurs in these institutions. We are focused on complementing top-down approaches by enhancing priority setting processes in institutions where it occurs, thus improving the health system from the bottom-up.


The projects are supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the World Health Organization.