Defining health impact assessment as any combination of procedures or methods by which a proposed policy or program may be judged as to the effect(s) it may have on the health of a population, we make recommendations about how to evaluate the health impact of all government-initiated policies. Such health impact cannot be assessed in the absence of a conceptual or organizing framework that provides the requisite guideposts--population health goals and targets. Health impact assessment offers an approach to ensuring that governments' program and policy initiatives align, or are congruent with, the agreed-upon health goals. It suggests that proposed national policies should be supported or resisted on the basis of their probable influence on the health of populations. In the current Canadian national policy framework, however, there are no underpinnings on which to situate such a process. The specification of consensus goals and objectives with measurable targets can provide the requisite guideposts and benchmarks for health impact assessment. Such an undertaking can set the stage and provide the necessary foundation for an effective health impact assessment process.