Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm the president and CEO of Canada Health Infoway. I have with me Mr. Sheridan, the chief operating officer of the corporation.
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to begin by thanking you and the members of the committee for the opportunity to speak with you today about the federal government's recent budget allocation of $500 million to Canada Health Infoway.
I know I speak for everybody at Canada Health Infoway, and quite frankly, our territorial and provincial partners as well, in expressing our appreciation for the government's continued support for the development of Canada's electronic health record system.
As you may know, our jurisdictional partners, as well as Canada's national health care associations, contributed to a pre-budget consultation process. They were extremely supportive of the move to modernize Canada's health information systems. I want to thank our colleagues in the health care field for making the case for investment. In particular, I'd like to thank the federal government for listening and responding in such a positive manner.
The question is, why was it so important an undertaking for so many in the health care field? As I see it, there are really two primary reasons. First, there's the compelling case for associated health care benefits and, secondly, there's the case for a large range of economic benefits.
Among the many crucial and lasting benefits of electronic health record systems is the potentially life-saving advantage of health care professionals having access to the critical health information of every Canadian patient. Not only do these systems provide doctors and other health care providers with much-needed information about the patient, but they enable better decisions around diagnosis and treatments that result in equality of care and greater efficiencies across the health care system.
We're very proud of our collaborative work with Canada's territories and provinces, work that's absolutely essential to ensuring a legacy of health care distinguished by accessibility, quality, and productivity for future generations. But as I've said, the benefits go beyond health care to economic benefits.
In 2009 we asked the Conference Board of Canada to explore economic benefits associated with our investments. What they found, in fact, is that for every dollar Infoway and its jurisdictional partners invested in electronic health record programs, an additional $1.34 was added to the overall GDP. For every $100 million invested in e-health initiatives, an estimated 1,500 jobs will be created or maintained, with half of these being knowledge-based information technology positions. For every $100 million invested in e-health initiatives, an estimated $42 million in corporate pre-tax profits is generated.
With the federal government's additional financial support for Infoway, Canadians will see the continued modernization of health care, as well as the economic stimulus of these investments over the next two years, which is particularly important in these challenging times.
We've come a long way in building the EHR, or electronic health record, systems across Canada. In working with our jurisdictional partners, we have established significant momentum, which has resulted in 276 projects that are either completed or under way across the country, in every territory and province.
Infoway has committed nearly all of the $1.6 billion it received in funding from the Government of Canada to the end of 2008, an amount that is matched by the jurisdictions. It really has put the country well on its way to implementing the core systems comprising the EHR foundation in Canada.
Yet much remains to be done to complete this $10-billion initiative, an initiative that will not only modernize our health care system, but will ensure returns of between $6 billion and $7 billion to the health system annually.
With the government's most recent funding allocation, we can continue to build our momentum and move towards our ultimate goal: a pan-Canadian electronic health record system that will result in faster diagnosis, improved patient care, connected physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, and quality care for remote patients.
I assure you that, in short order, we intend to put this funding to very good use towards this goal, while creating and maintaining thousands of knowledge-based jobs throughout Canada.