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Request for Proposals: Environmental scan in the area of the determinants of health for public health

In brief 

The National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH) is seeking a consultant undertake an environmental scan, in collaboration with NCCDH staff and an expert advisory group. This scan will help guide the future work of the NCCDH, and also be written for use by the public health sector to guide public health planning. This work will include examples of public health and knowledge mobilization actions/interventions that work, as well as those deemed to be promising, in the context of current public health programs, policies and structures in Canada. The environmental scan will include, but is not limited to, the components listed below: 

  • Identification and review of key documents and literature (English and French);
  • Identification of and key informant interviews with public health leaders/stakeholders (a portion in French);
  • Analysis of promising areas for the NCCDH to enhance and support the work of public health practitioners, policy-makers and decision-makers across Canada in advancing health equity/social determinants of health; and,
  • Refinement of NCCDH primary and secondary audiences.

Resulting in a report, and executive summary, with sufficient information to guide the NCCDH in shaping the future direction of its activities; and an information package to facilitate the validation of the environmental scan.

Background: National Collaborating Centre for Public Health Program

Established in 2005 and funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada, the six National Collaborating Centres (NCCs) for Public Health work together to promote the use of scientific research and other knowledge to strengthen public health practices, programs and policies in Canada. A unique knowledge hub, the NCCs identify knowledge gaps, foster networks and provide the public health system with an array of evidence-based resources, multi-media products, and knowledge translation services. The NCCs are located across Canada, and each focuses on a different public health priority.

The six centres are:

  • NCC for Aboriginal Health at the University of Northern British Columbia, in Prince George
  • NCC for Determinants of Health at St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia
  • NCC for Healthy Public Policy at L'Institut national de santé publique du Québec, in Montreal
  • NCC for Environmental Health at the BC Centre for Disease Control, in Vancouver
  • NCC for Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg
  • NCC for Methods and Tools at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario

Background: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health

The NCCDH’s goal is that public health organizations and practitioners are enabled to effectively utilize available resources to advance social determinants of health and health equity, as a result of knowledge mobilization (KM) activities that are focused on actions/interventions that work.

The NCCDH does not perform research studies. Instead, we gather the evidence and information distributed by researchers and make it accessible to stakeholders such as public and population health practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and professional associations across Canada.  Our end goal is improved overall population health, and a smaller gap between the healthiest and least healthy, in Canada.

Our objectives are to:

  1.  Build public health practitioner knowledge, skill and leadership capacity, with a focus on modifying common public health practices and essential organizational roles/functions (at system, organization and front-line levels) to effectively mitigate and improve social determinants of health (SDH) and advance health equity (HE).
  2. Strengthen public health sector networks (community-of-practice) to support peer-to-peer and collaborative action to address SDH and advance HE.
  3. Encourage researchers to pursue theoretical and practice-based research that effectively integrates SDH and HE issues based on identified evidence gaps and promising and proven practices.

Environmental Scan of health equity/determinants of health methods and approaches in Public Health

The Consultant will work with an advisory committee to refine the following research questions that will help to guide the scan:

1. What is the current state of public health action in Canada to improve SDH and HE?

a. What are the current actions/interventions (practice and organization-based) being undertaken by public health?
b. What actions/interventions appear to be effective or showing promise?
c. What are the key challenges, needs and gaps?

2. Where are the opportunitites for public health action to improve SDH and HE?

a. Where are the key opportunities in relation to the 3 priority areas of the Common agenda for public health action on health equity (Build a foundation for action; Establish and use a strong knowledge base; Collaborate with non-health sector partners)
b. Who is well positioned to provide leadership among the various stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities?

3. Where can NCCDH work most effectively to mobilize knowledge in relation to our three objectives (build knowledge, skill and leadership; strengthen networks; encourage research)?

a. What is the current niche for the NCCDH?  Who are the primary and secondary audiences (formal public health system, public health influencers and stakeholders) within this niche?
b. Where are the opportunities to refine our niche and audiences? What factors would help NCCDH stand out from our partners and competitors?
c. What KM tools would be most effective to reach and support our target audiences, including: virtual platforms, convening role/technology, and partnership improvement?

The deliverables for the environmental scan are outlined below:

  1. Environmental scan report.
  2. Executive summary report (standalone) of the environmental scan.
  3. Information package to facilitate the validation of the environmental scan, e.g. method description; sub-report of document and literature search, analysis and findings; sub-report of key informant interview guide and key informant interviews; detailing of resources newly identified; citation of references.


We require a detailed proposal with a cost estimate and projected timelines for the environmental scan that includes the above deliverables. The environmental scan will start no later than April and must be completed (final report submitted and accepted no later than September 22, 2017). Proposal should include:

  1. Proposed activities, cost estimates and timeline for the various components of the project.
  2. Resume of the primary person(s) responsible for the development and coordination of the plan.
  3. Access to two comparable reports (environmental scans) done for other groups.
  4. Three references and phone numbers of people for whom you have conducted environmental scans or similar assessments.

Role of the NCCDH:

The NCCDH will be responsible for the following tasks:

  1. Choosing the consultant.
  2. Establishing an advisory committee.
  3. Approving plans and components of the environmental scan.
  4. Providing consultation, e.g. contributing to identification of key informants and key documents for review, including providing contact information.
  5. Providing translation of key informant and focus group invitations and interview guides.
  6. Providing translation of interview transcripts and all final reports.
  7. Providing timely review of draft reports; and, timely approvals of plans and reports.

Role of the Consultant

The successful consultant will be responsible for the following tasks:

  1. Providing a plan with timeline for each component.
  2. Conducting these components with input from the advisory committee and NCCDH staff within the designated timeframe.
  3. Providing necessary staff to conduct interviews and focus group(s) in French.
  4. Providing all necessary staff and equipment to conduct the components of the environmental scan, including, but not limited to, recording capability, transcription, etc. as required.

Selection Criteria and Process

The following are the criteria we will use in the selection process:

  • Detailed plan and timeline (including projected costs for each component).
  • Potential for excellent working relationship.
  • Evidence of high standards in conduct of environmental scan and report writing.
  • Experience working with clients in public health or other related sector, knowledge of knowledge mobilization and system change, and familiarity with virtual environments and national scope.
  • Knowledge of health equity, social determinants of health, and social justice concepts.
  • Demonstration of capacity to engage with and learn from public health organizations and practitioners functioning in French and serving Francophone Canadians.
  • Strong recommendations from references.
  • Compliance with deadline.

The proposal will be reviewed in detail according to the above criteria. Selection will be made by April 10, 2017, and all applicants will be promptly notified.

If you have any questions, please contact Faith Layden at

Your electronic submission should be sent by 4:00 pm EST on March 31, 2017 to:
Faith Layden (

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