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The Canadian Patient Safety Institute envisions a Canadian health system where patients, providers, governments and others work together to build and advance a safer health system; where providers take pride in their ability to deliver the safest and highest quality of care possible; and where every Canadian in need of healthcare can be confident that the care they receive is the safest in the world.

In working towards this vision for Canada’s health system, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute strives to provide national leadership in building and advancing a safer Canadian health system.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute provides healthcare leaders, including boards, with strategies and tools to foster accountability and improve patient safety practices. To further this work we brought together national and provincial/territorial leaders and experts in this field to form the Governance for Quality and Patient Safety Steering Committee. The mandate of the committee was to advise the Canadian Patient Safety Institute on leading governance practices that could be used to improve patient safety in Canada.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute partnered with the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and commissioned a team of researchers, led by Dr. G. Ross Baker, to investigate governance for quality and safety improvement in healthcare organizations. The findings from this research have been used to inform the content of this toolkit. Together with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, we graciously thank Ross and his team for consolidating the available evidence and for advising and guiding us throughout the toolkit development process. We would also like to thank Ms. Karen Born who so adeptly brought the information together, as well as the many contributors who generously permitted us to share the resources, articles, and tools contained in this toolkit.

The project would not have been possible without the leadership provided by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. We would like to express our appreciation to Philip Hassen, former CEO (2004-2010), for his commitment to the project and to the staff for so effectively managing the flow of the work. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge Marie Owen, (Director of Operations), Laurel Taylor (Director of Operations) and Sandi Kossey (Project Manager).

The toolkit is intended to provide information and tools for healthcare boards to apply in their own organizations, with consideration of different provincial/territorial and local context and regulatory environments. We recognize that significant variation exists related to board practices and processes, and that we can learn from each other.

Recommended readings and articles have been suggested. Templates and tools are provided for board members and senior leaders to modify and use to suit their organization’s needs. Efforts have been made to ensure the information and resources are relevant for healthcare organizations across Canada, including long term care providers, hospitals, health regions and other service providers.

We hope that the governance toolkit will assist boards and senior leaders to better understand the important role of boards for quality and safety, and assist them in their efforts to build and enhance a safer health system.


Maura Davies
President and Chief Executive Officer, Saskatoon Health Region
Chair, Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Dr. James R. Nininger
Corporate Director
Founding Board Chair, Community for Excellence in Health Governance
Founding Board Member, Canadian Patient Safety Institute