Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Ontario’s research hospitals are recognized as international leaders in health care research and innovation. Ontario’s position on the international research stage has taken decades to develop.

Ontario’s health research and innovation capacity has been built in partnership with the Ontario Government through its forward-looking and progressive investments in science and scientific research, particularly through the Ontario Research Fund (ORF).

Ontario’s investments through the ORF are directly and positively impacting the immediate goals of reducing health care costs, while increasing quality and commercializing research to create jobs and economic growth.

Consider the innovation of using Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI)-guided High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) from Sunnybrook Research Institute. The HIFU pairs magnetic resonance with focused ultrasound to non-invasively pinpoint and destroy uterine fibroids, reducing the risks and costs and possible complications of traditional surgical procedures, such as hysterectomy.

The HIFU procedure is quick, painless and non-invasive—a much better alternative to surgery, which is longer, more expensive and requires far longer recovery time. Clinical trial results so far show that women who receive this therapy can go home the same day, and are often back to work in one to two days. In fact, MRI-guided High Intensity Focused Ultrasound could lead to scalpel-less surgery for brain tumours, the impact of which on patient care and cost would be highly significant. The Ontario Research Fund invested $3.5 million in the research supporting this innovation in 2008.  It is estimated this procedure could save Ontario’s health care system over $35 million annually and the Canadian health care system $90 million per year.

CAHO believes stable provincial investment will sustain Ontario’s international health innovation leadership, in part by stimulating additional federal and private sector investment. By virtue of ORF guidelines, provincial investment leverages total investment by a factor of three. For every dollar invested by the ORF in research and development (R&D) projects, three dollars total is invested. Conversely, for every dollar not invested by Ontario, three dollars worth of total investment does not occur in Ontario, the federal portion of which is available for investment elsewhere in Canada.

This investment will help Ontario retain the brightest and most productive researchers, their research programs and access to the expertise that is required to attract and mentor future scientists. Conversely, without investment, the globally competitive health research enterprise that Ontario has built will be at significant risk. Just as our current leadership has taken decades to build, it would take decades to rebuild a new leadership, ceding leadership in the interim to competing jurisdictions.