CASCADES: Creating a Sustainable

Canadian Health System in a Climate Crisis

The Healthy Populations Institute in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Health Systems at the University of Toronto, the Planetary Healthcare Lab at the University of British Columbia, and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, is delighted to announce the launch of CASCADES, a multi-year capacity-building initiative to address healthcare’s contribution to the climate crisis. The project is funded for a five-year term by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund for Community-Based Climate Action Projects.

Project Description

CASCADES strives to support Canada’s health care community to transition toward a sustainable (net-zero, resilient) health system in alignment with the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. There is considerable existing capacity for sustainable health care in Canada. Many individuals and organizations already possess sustainability-related knowledge, skills and networks and have tested and implemented multiple sustainable health care practices and policies. CASCADES aims to leverage, support and enhance this capacity, by:

  1. Developing professional development training programs, resources, and events that celebrate and expand existing knowledge, skills and networks, and;

  2. Providing support to efforts to test and spread sustainable innovations in service delivery and system design.

By leveraging and building upon existing efforts and expertise, CASCADES will contribute to the cumulative and coordinated growth of sustainable health system capacity in Canada (Figure 1).

Project Goals:

GOAL 1: To leverage & build knowledge, skills & networks across Canada's health care community to promote and deliver sustainable health systems through:

  • Professional Development Training to equip front line providers and administrators with the skills needed (fundamental, advanced) to understand and support sustainable change, and to build training capacity through train-the-trainer programs.

  • Knowledge-Mobilization and Networking to help identify opportunities for innovation, support excellence and skill-sharing, build and support communities of practice.

  • Outreach and Communications to foster awareness, attract new audiences and foster broad dissemination of CASCADES’ deliverables, working in partnership wherever possible.


GOAL 2: To collaboratively coordinate a national approach to the cultivation, selection and support of sustainable health care innovations in service delivery and system design by providing support to:

  • Test service delivery and system design innovations at one or more sites to assess whether they are improvements towards high quality, low GHG care. “Test cases” can use a variety of methodologies (e.g., QI, design thinking, implementation science, life-cycle analysis, etc.) and must produce a prototype playbook that provides a step-by-step guide for innovation implementation and assessment.

  • Spread promising service delivery and system design innovations across multiple sites and regions in the country, using quality improvement (QI) methodology and the “Breakthrough Series Collaborative” approach. “Spread cases” use the prototype Playbook to implement an innovation with consistent processes and impact measurement across all sites/regions and produce a validated playbook that can be used for widespread implementation and to inform policy - for what is now considered a best practice in sustainable health care.

Partner Organizations and Executive Committee Members:

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Healthy Populations Institute, Dalhousie University

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Centre for Sustainable Health Systems, Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto (Project Lead)

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Planetary Healthcare Lab, University of British Columbia

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Canadian Coalition for Greener Health Care