UPDATE: CARRFS January 2016 Innovation Summit

Dear CARRFS members,

The year 2016 will be a critical year for CARRFS. The CARRFS January 2016 Innovation Summit will take place in Toronto from Sunday, January 10, 2016 to Monday, January 11, 2016. A total of 25 public health executives and professionals across Canada, with significant experience in public health surveillance, will meet in Toronto to discuss the challenges confronting the public health surveillance community today. We will discuss how to best create an effective and sustainable future operational model for CARRFS, as an independent pan-Canadian national network to support our community. We will also discuss possible directions we might take, in the process of creating new knowledge that can improve the health of the Canadian population from a local/regional perspective.

Because there will be CARRFS members who will not be participating in person in the Summit but who want to participate virtually, we are planning to organize a virtual session of the Summit (time TBD) for those who are not able to participate in person. Through this session, members will be able to participate and influence the outcome of the Summit. An announcement will be sent out prior to the meeting for you to register as a virtual participant.

The Summit thanks the Public Health Agency of Canada for funding the travel of 13 participants from across the country to attend the meeting, and the many other agencies for funding the travel of their own participants. The Summit also acknowledges funding support from Public Health Ontario and the Provincial Health Services Authority (BC) for location rental and hospitality. As sole source funding will no longer be available for CARRFS, it is important that we move to a multi-source funding partnership model.

Our Summit participants come from across Canada and the three levels of the government. They include surveillance directors, medical officers of health, public health academics as well as other public health surveillance experts. Since October 2015, the Summit participants have taken part in 3 virtual meetings to prepare for the Summit. Discussion topics included: various options for CARRFS going forward, such as a “national network of networks” for public health surveillance; a network that shares technical skills, tools and knowledge; a resourceful pan-Canadian national health surveillance “think-tank” that will explore and create solutions based on modern information and communication technologies, that are rapidly changing the landscape for public health surveillance. The virtual meetings identified a significant gap in public health in Canada i.e. there is no efficient pan-Canadian infrastructure for a systematic and coherent collection and analysis of surveillance data at the local and regional level to facilitate the work of policy and decision makers.

The Summit is only the first phase of the CARRFS renewal process. After the Summit there will be a great deal of work to finalize the ideas and new directions suggested, and to implement these ideas and directions through various cross-functional and cross-national working groups. So, we welcome not only your ideas and your energy, but also your active participation in developing the new CARRFS.

We would also like to hear from all CARRFS members. We will send out a short survey, to identify and capture your ideas and activities that you think CARRFS should engage in. The same survey will also be posted on the CARRFS website (www.carrfs.ca) for the benefit of those health professionals who do not receive the survey. So please forward that link to your colleagues when you receive the survey, as it is important for all of us to garner as many helpful and useful suggestions as possible.

We are looking forward to hearing from you.