Objective: To inventory and describe currently available health performance measurement systems for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in Canada to identify why current measurement systems are inadequate to inform community or regional level health planning.
Methods: Inventory, classification, and synthesis of strengths and weaknesses among existing health system performance measures through systematic literature review and key informant interviews.
Results: Indigenous-specific health indicators are available at national, provincial, regional, and community levels, but there is a paucity of data for nonregistered First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. Barriers to the effective use of these indicators include: indicator selection driven by accountability rather than public health requirements; poor data quality; inadequate infrastructure and human resources; minimal information returned to communities; tension between agencies collecting universal indicators and Indigenous-determined processes; and, mistrust by Indigenous communities of externally imposed processes. The focus on national systems results in greater attention to disease-based measures and less focus on regional cultural diversity and Indigenous-specific values and priorities.
Conclusion: Indigenous health system performance measurement infrastructure in Canada is underdeveloped, particularly at the local level, and hence deficient in its ability to support community or regional health planning.