Canada's Top 40 Research Hospitals 2023

Hospital Research Spending Rebounds

In Fiscal 2022, Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals posted a respectable gain in research spending of 4.7% over Fiscal 2021. The combined research spending of the Top 40 was $3.20 billion, up from $3.06 billion. Research spending increased at 30 Hospitals, Hospital Networks and Health Authorities and declined at only 10 of the others. The number of health researchers was 10,135, a 2.6% increase over Fiscal 2021.

University Health Network (UHN) led the national ranking, with outlays of $474.6 million, up 4.8% from Fiscal 2021. Hospital for Sick Children ranked in second spot ($294.2 million, up 5.8%), followed by McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in third ($231.7 million, up 17.7%). Vancouver Coastal Health Authority moved into fourth spot ($168.8 million, down -3.3%). Provincial Health Services Authority dropped to fifth place ($162.5 million, down -13.9%). Ottawa Hospital maintained sixth position ($153.5 million, up 2.6%). With an increase of 5.8% in their research spending in Fiscal 2022 to $137.4 million, London Health Sciences Centre/St. Joseph’s Health Care London moved into seventh place, up from ninth in Fiscal 2021.

$100 Million Club

In Fiscal 2022, 11 institutions – up from 10 – each recorded research spending in excess of $100 million. The elite group in the $100 Million Club recorded combined research spending of $2.11 billion, up 8.2% over Fiscal 2021, and accounted for 66% of total national research spending, up from 64% of the total the year prior. New to the Club this year was Unity Health Toronto.

  $100 Million Club
Hospital Research
1 University Health Network (UHN) $474,600   
2 Hospital for Sick Children $294,224   
3 McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) $231,655   
4 Vancouver Coastal Health Authority $168,824   
5 Provincial Health Services Authority $162,523   
6 Ottawa Hospital $153,481   
7 London Health Sciences Centre/St. Joseph’s Health Care London $137,414   
8 Hamilton Health Sciences $133,563   
9 Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre $128,441   
10 CHU de Québec - Université Laval $120,173   
11 Unity Health Toronto $104,489   

Research Spending Growth

Compared with the national research spending gain of 4.7%, 15 organizations recorded increases of more than 10% in their research activity in Fiscal 2022. Six of them reported research spending growth of more than 20%: Alberta Health Services – Calgary Zone and Edmonton Zone were both up 29.0% and 28.5% respectively in Fiscal 2022. Others of note were Hôpital Montfort (up 24.9%), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (up 24.8%), St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (up 22.1%) and Bruyère (up 20.4%).

  Top 10 Research Hospitals by Research Spending Growth
Hospital % Change
1 Alberta Health Services - Calgary Zone 29.0        
2 Alberta Health Services - Edmonton Zone 28.5        
3 Hôpital Montfort 24.9        
4 Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre 24.8        
5 St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton 22.1        
6 Bruyère 20.4        
7 Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario 18.1        
8 McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) 17.7        
9 Health Sciences North 15.0        
10 CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale 14.8        

Researcher Intensity

Research Infosource measures research intensity in two ways: by researcher (research spending per researcher), and by hospital (hospital research spending as a percent of total hospital spending). In Fiscal 2022, at the national level, researcher intensity increased by 2.0% to an average of $315,700 of spending per researcher, and the national hospital intensity was 6.3%, a decrease of -3.7% between Fiscal 2021 and Fiscal 2022.

At $924,700 of spending per researcher, Unity Health Toronto led its Large hospital peers, followed by London Health Sciences Centre/St. Joseph’s Health Care London ($776,400 per researcher) and University Health Network ($581,600 per researcher). In the Medium hospital category, Sinai Health ($720,500 spending per researcher) was the most researcher-intensive institution, followed by Hospital for Sick Children ($690,700 spending per researcher) and in third spot, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health ($512,300 per researcher). In the Small category Baycrest ($961,700 spending per researcher) was the most researcher-intensive institution and also led the national results. In second place in the Small category was Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital ($666,500 spending per researcher), followed in third by Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec - Université Laval ($427,200 spending per researcher).

Measured by hospital intensity (proportion of total hospital spending accounted for by research), University Health Network led the Large hospital category, devoting 16.9% of its total hospital spending to research in Fiscal 2022. Hospital for Sick Children (27.3%), the leader for the Medium category also posted the highest portion of research spending nationally. Montreal Heart Institute topped the Small category (14.9%).

Spotlight on Hospital Research Activity FY2022
Top Researcher-Intensive Organizations
(Research Spending per Researcher)
Rank Large $000   
1 Unity Health Toronto $924.7   
2 London Health Sciences Centre/St. Joseph's Health Care London $776.4   
3 University Health Network (UHN) $581.6   
Rank Medium $000   
1 Sinai Health $720.5   
2 Hospital for Sick Children $690.7   
3 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health $512.3   
Rank Small $000   
1 Baycrest $961.7   
2 Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital $666.5   
3 Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec - Université Laval $427.2   
Top Hospital-Intensive Organizations
(Research Spending as % of Total Hospital Spending)
Rank Large %   
1 University Health Network (UHN) 16.9   
2 McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) 14.0   
3 Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre 9.8   
Rank Medium %   
1 Hospital for Sick Children 27.3   
2 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 16.3   
3 Sinai Health 12.8   
Rank Small %   
1 Montreal Heart Institute 14.9   
2 Baycrest 12.7   
3 Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital 12.2   
Note: Hospital size is based on Fiscal 2022 total hospital spending:
Large = more than $1 billion; Medium = $400 million to $1 billion; Small = less than $400 million.

Provincial Performance

  Top 40 – Leading Provinces
 Province % of Total 
 Ontario (20) 57      
 Quebec (12) 27      
 British Columbia (2) 10      
In Fiscal 2022, 20 Ontario health organizations on the Top 40, accounted for $1.82 billion of the total national hospital research spending, or 57% of the total (up 6.5%). Quebec’s 12 institutions accounted for $874.1 million, representing 27% of the national total (up 5.4%). Two health organizations from British Columbia posted $331.3 million of research spending (down -8.8%), or 10% of the national total, down from 12% of the total the year prior.

This Year and Next

Fiscal 2022 was a healthy year for hospital research compared with Fiscal 2021. Research spending reached an all-time high of $3.20 billion. Thirty health organizations saw their research spending increase compared with last year, when a majority (23) reported spending declines. Presumably, emergency COVID-19 research funding was flowing freely in Fiscal 2022 and that accounted for much of the robust results.

Of course, year-on-year results typically fluctuate, which is why it is more important to consider longer term trends. Research spending growth of 4.7% this year follows tepid growth of 0.1% last year and strong 5.8% growth the prior year. One wonders, though, about the real spending power of available resources. Clearly, high inflation will erode effective spending and if it persists, then rising research spending figures may simply mask an eroding position.

Governments are the largest funders of health research and it is no secret that their budgets are strained. The Federal Government has already signaled cutbacks in next year’s spending. While next year’s results – Fiscal 2023 – might dodge cutbacks, future years’ resources might not.