New Institute to Help Improve Health in Rural Nova Scotia

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

With a $37.4 million investment from the Province, the Institute for Innovation in Health will explore ways to improve health and mental health promotion and well-being in rural communities, including prevention and management of existing chronic diseases, rehabilitation and aging.

“By focusing on prevention, we can help people live stronger, healthier lives, which reduces the burden on the health care system,” said Prime Minister Tim Houston. “We have a long term plan for health care and it is working. This institution is another milestone for our Province and complements the work that is being done to transform healthcare for Nova Scotians.”

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

Through the institute, St. Francis Xavier will also:

  • opening a treatment and research center focused on rural health and care that will expand access to primary and mental health care for its students and the wider community
  • build innovative infrastructure and training environments, including simulators and virtual reality, to improve rural care and training
  • enhancing the performance 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 agency will be guided by six core solutions in Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve and transform healthcare in Nova Scotia.

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


As a nurse, I know firsthand how preventive medicine can impact a patient’s life. 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 problems is another way we are transforming healthcare to provide better care and faster for Nova Scotians.
Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Welfare

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

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