New Institute to Help Improve Health in Rural Nova Scotia

A new research institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish will help improve the health of rural Nova Scotians by focusing on the root causes of poor health and related issues.

With a $37.4-million investment from the Province, the Institute for Innovation in Health will look at ways to improve health promotion and mental health and wellness in rural communities, including chronic disease prevention and management, rehabilitation and aging in place.

“By focusing on prevention, we can help people lead stronger, healthier lives, which reduces the burden on the healthcare system,” said Premier Tim Houston. “We have a long-term plan for healthcare and it’s working. This institute is another achievement for our Province and complements the work underway to transform healthcare for Nova Scotians.”

The institute will offer education and training for current healthcare professionals, test and evaluate new ways of promoting health and wellness, and expand programs and virtual approaches to health education and promotion in rural communities.

Through the institute, St. Francis Xavier University will also:

  • open a treatment and research center focused on wellness and rural care that will expand access to primary and mental healthcare for its students and the broader community
  • establish innovative infrastructure and training environments, including simulators and virtual reality, to enhance rural care and training
  • enhance the work of the National Collaborating Center for Determinants of Health, which is based there and is one of six national centers of excellence in Canada.

The institute will be guided by the six core solutions in Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve and transform healthcare in Nova Scotia.

Funding the institute is part of a series of investments in Nova Scotia universities to support healthcare training, one of the commitments in Action for Health. On Tuesday, Premier Tim Houston announced $59 million to create a new medical school campus at Cape Breton University in Sydney, and on Wednesday, Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong announced $25 million to create more training options in healthcare data analysis and related areas at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.


As a nurse, I know first-hand the benefits that preventive medicine can have on the lives of patients. A greater focus on the factors that lead to poor health and well-being and how our healthcare system can support patients to reduce, prevent or better manage their medical concerns is another way we are transforming healthcare to provide better, faster care for Nova Scotians.
Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness

Nova Scotia’s post-secondary institutions have a lot to offer in many areas and that’s one of the reasons why so many people choose to study here. Working together, we can create flexible learning and work-integrated models to train skilled workers in the fields we need most – like healthcare.
Brian Wong, Minister of Advanced Education

This is wonderful news for our entire campus community and northern Nova Scotia. This is an investment in advancing health, wellness and rural care. The Institute for Innovation in Health at StFX will be recognized for impacting education, promotion and prevention programs responsive to rural healthcare and service needs in Nova Scotian communities.
Andy Hakins, President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University


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