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PHLO was established through a Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) infrastructure grant, awarded in 2004, and has received matching funds from the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, through the Ministry of Advanced Education.

The infrastructure is expected to be developed and implemented over the first four years of operation, after which PHLO will largely focus on service provision to the research community.

PHLO represents the collaboration of four key organizations at UBC:

Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) who pioneered approved researcher access to health service data in BC through the BCLHD. Their primary holdings come from the Ministry of Health.

Edudata Canada, also funded through a CFI grant, houses educational data for research, primarily Ministry of Education K through 12 data.

Human Early Learning Partnership's focus is on early childhood development. Their primary data holding is the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a measure of childhood school readiness.

School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, with a focus on environmental and occupational research, do not historically have data holdings. Developing data for research use in these areas is a key mandate of PHLO.

PHLO is situated within the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia.