About Choosing Wisely Canada

Choosing Wisely Canada is the national voice for reducing unnecessary tests and treatments in health care.

Choosing Wisely Canada launched on April 2, 2014, and is organized by a small team from the University of Toronto, Canadian Medical Association and St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto).

It is part of a global movement that began in the United States in 2012, which now spans 20 countries across 5 continents.

Choosing Wisely Canada inspires and engages health care professionals to take leadership in reducing unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures, and enables them with simple tools and resources that make it easier to choose wisely.

It does so by partnering with professional societies representing different clinical specialties (e.g., cardiology, family medicine, nursing) to come up with lists of “Things Clinicians and Patients Should Question.” These lists of recommendations identify tests and treatments commonly used in each specialty that are not supported by evidence and could expose patients to harm.

Choosing Wisely Canada also partners with a wide range of medical associations, health system as well as patient organizations to help put these recommendations into practice.

Facts About Unnecessary Tests, Treatments, and Procedures

Up to 30% of tests, treatments, and procedures in Canada are potentially unnecessary.

Unnecessary tests, treatments, and procedures do not add value for patients, potentially expose patients to harm, lead to more testing to investigate false positives, contribute to unwarranted stress for patients and their families, and consume precious time and resources. For example, Canadian and international guidelines say that seniors should not be on long-term prescriptions of benzodiazepines (sleeping pills). These powerful drugs can increase their risks for car accidents, falls and hip fractures. Yet, a 2017 study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that the rate of long-term benzodiazepine use among seniors ranged from 5% in Saskatchewan to 25% in New Brunswick.

So why do they occur? Well, there are many possible drivers of unnecessary tests, treatments, and procedures, including:

Campaign Partners

Professional Societies: Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada | Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry | Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry | Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine | Canadian Anesthesiologists Society | Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver | Canadian Association of Advanced Practice Nurses | Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses | Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians | Canadian Association of General Surgeons | Canadian Association of Hospital Dentists | Canadian Association of Medical Biochemists | Canadian Association of Medical Oncologists | Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists | Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine | Canadian Association of Paediatric Surgeons | Canadian Association of Pathologists | Canadian Association of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation | Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology | Canadian Association of Radiologists | Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group | Canadian Cardiovascular Society | Canadian College of Medical Geneticists | Canadian Critical Care Society | Canadian Dental Association | Canadian Dermatology Association | Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society | Canadian Geriatrics Society | Canadian Headache Society | Canadian Hematology Society | Canadian IBD Network of Researchers for Healthcare Growth and Improvement | Canadian Neurological Society | Canadian Nurses Association | Canadian Obstetrical and Pediatric Transfusion Network | Canadian Orthopaedic Association | Canadian Paediatric Society | Canadian Pediatric Neurosurgery Study Group | Canadian Pharmacists Association | Canadian Psychiatric Association | Canadian Rheumatology Association | Canadian Society for Surgical Oncology | Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine | Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery | Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology | Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists | Canadian Society of Hospital Medicine | Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists | Canadian Society of Internal Medicine | Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science | Canadian Society of Nephrology | Canadian Society of Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery | Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians | Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists | Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism | Canadian Spine Society | Canadian Urological Association | Canadian Association of Gastroenterology | Long Term Care Medical Directors Association of Canada | Occupational Medicine Specialists of Canada | Public Health Physicians of Canada | Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada | Society of Rural Physicians of Canada | Trauma Association of Canada

Medical Associations: Alberta Medical Association | Canadian Medical Association | Doctors Manitoba | Doctors Nova Scotia | New Brunswick Medical Society | Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association | Northwest Territories Medical Association | Ontario Medical Association | Saskatchewan Medical Association | Yukon Medical Association

Health System Organizations: Canada Safe Imaging | Canadian Agency for Drugs & Technologies in Health | Canadian Association of Professors of Medicine | Canadian Deprescribing Network | Canadian Federation of Medical Students | Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement | Canadian Institute for Health Information | Canadian Partnership Against Cancer | Canadian Patient Safety Institute | Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care | College of Family Physicians of Canada | Fédération des médecins résidents du Québec | Fédération médicale étudiante du Québec | Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada | Health Quality Ontario | Ontario Medical Students Association | Resident Doctors of Canada | Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada | Touchstone Institute

Patient Organizations: Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance | Canadian Association of Retired Teachers | Canadian Association of Social Workers | Consumer Reports Health | Crohn’s and Colitis Canada | Gastrointestinal Society | National Association of Federal Retirees | Patients Canada | Patients for Patient Safety Canada | Retired Teachers of Ontario

Financial Supporters: Choosing Wisely Canada is supported by the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto) and the Canadian Medical Association. It receives funding from the Canadian Medical Association, along with grants from federal, provincial and territorial ministries of health, and other partner organizations and agencies.

Choosing Wisely Canada does not accept financial support from pharmaceutical, medical devices or any other life sciences companies.

Getting Involved

Choosing Wisely Canada is an open campaign, meaning that anyone can participate, and there are many ways to do so. You can:

The Choosing Wisely Canada brand may only be used for the purpose of participating in the campaign and furthering its mission. If you are using or planning to use the Choosing Wisely Canada brand in your work, please read the Brand Book to understand the conditions under which the brand may and may not be used, and to access our brand assets.

Download the Brand Book

Core Staff

Clinical Leads

Patient and Public Advisors