Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

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Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
Administratrice en chef de la santé publique du Canada
PHAC wordmark.svg
Theresa Tam, Promoting Vaccine Confidence.jpg
Incumbent
Theresa Tam
since 26 June 2017
Public Health Agency of Canada
AbbreviationCPHO
Reports toMinister of Health
AppointerGovernor in Council
Term length5 years
Inaugural holderDavid Butler-Jones
Formation2004
Websitewww.phac-aspc.gc.ca

The chief public health officer of Canada (CPHO; French: administratrice en chef de la santé publique; ACSP)[note 1] is the lead health professional and primary spokesperson on public health related matters for the Government of Canada. The chief public health officer provides advice to the minister of health and the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), works in collaboration with the agency president in the agency's leadership and management, and works with other departments and levels of government on public health matters. PHAC, along with the CPHO post was established in 2004 amidst the SARS crisis.[1]

The third and current chief public health officer of Canada is Theresa Tam, who was appointed in June 2017.[2]

Overview[edit]

The CPHO position was created by Carolyn Bennett in her position as Minister of State for Public Health (Canada) in 2004, along with the Public Health Agency of Canada.[3] Per the Public Health Agency of Canada Act (2006), the CPHO holds office "during pleasure for a term not exceeding five years".[4] The CPHO can be reappointed for additional terms.

The CPHO is selected through an open and transparent national competitive process, and is appointed by the Governor-in-Council.[5] The process is merit-based: as per the Public Health Agency of Canada Act, the CPHO must be a qualified public health professional.[6]

Responsibilities[edit]

The CPHO is responsible for:[7]

  • Providing public health advice to the minister of health and to the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and, as appropriate, work with other federal departments and agencies, provincial/territorial governments, the international community, health practitioners and Canadians on public health issues;
  • Giving the minister of health an annual report on Canadian public health;
  • Providing leadership of the Public Health Agency of Canada;
  • Taking a leadership/advocacy role in national public health matters and citizen engagement in public health;
  • Taking accountability for health provisions related to official acts (eg. the Quarantine Act, the Department of Health Act, the Public Health Agency of Canada Act, and the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act); and
  • Assuming the role of the federal government spokesperson on public health issues, in particular, during public health emergencies.

During public health emergencies, such as outbreaks or natural disasters, the CPHO is responsible for:

  • Working with relevant professionals and officials to plan responses and to provide Canadians with information about plan outbreak responses and how to protect themselves;
  • Providing briefings and advice to the president of the Public Health Agency, the minister of health, and others; and
  • Communicating public health information to Canadians via different channels.

The chief public health officer was the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada until 2014, in which government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper reorganized the management structure of PHAC through a 2014 omnibus budget bill and instituted a parallel presidential-structure and position to govern the organization, that then could be staffed by non-medical and non-scientific personnel. The NDP health critic said at the time that: "To bury it in an omnibus bill says to me that they don't want people to know about it and they don't want questions," while Health Minister Rona Ambrose said that "the idea for the new structure came from the agency itself," which was led at the time on an interim basis for the previous 16 months by Gregory W. Taylor.[8]

Areas of focus[edit]

2017–present[edit]

Theresa Tam, who has held the position since June 26 2017, released a vision statement in early 2018.[9] She wishes to pay particular attention to the reduction of health discrepancies in the country, which includes collaborating with and reducing the socioeconomic gap of Indigenous Peoples. Her six areas of focus are currently:[10]

  1. The risks of antimicrobial resistance and the correct use of antibiotics;
  2. Building healthy environments that reduce health discrepancies;
  3. The championing of youth health;
  4. The reduction of blood-borne and sexually transmitted infections;
  5. The reduction of Tuberculosis in at-risk populations; and
  6. Promoting education on substances (especially alcohol, opioids and marijuana), particularly their effects on youth

As CPHO, Tam wrote Fifteen years post-SARS: Key milestones in Canada's public health emergency response, in which she remarked somewhat presciently as it turns out that:[11]

With the current global reality, we must recognize that public health threats that go unchecked anywhere in the world have the potential to very rapidly become a public health threat in Canada.

Chief public health officers[edit]

Theresa Tam is the third and present CPHO. Initially taking on the role in an acting capacity on December 16, 2016 following the retirement of Gregory Taylor,[2] Tam was formally appointed on June 26, 2017,[2] and led the Government of Canada's COVID-19 response in 2020.

List of Chief Public Health Officers of Canada[1]
No. CPHO Appointed Retired Appointed by
0* Frank Plummer[12] 17 May 2004 23 October 2004 Carolyn Bennett
1 David Butler-Jones[13] October 23, 2004 June 2013 Carolyn Bennett
2 Gregory W. Taylor[14][15][16] September 24, 2014 December 15, 2016 Rona Ambrose
3 Theresa Tam[15][2] June 26, 2017 Jane Philpott

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ When the position is held by a male, the French title is administrateur en chef de la santé publique.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Globe and Mail. Chief Public Health Officer. Accessed 29 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Britneff, Beatrice (June 26, 2017). "Politicos on the move: Feds appoint new chief public health officer". iPolitics.
  3. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (June 29, 2007). "The Role of the Chief Public Health Officer". aem. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  4. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (February 5, 2015). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Public Health Agency of Canada Act". lois-laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  5. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (June 25, 2017). "Government of Canada Appoints Chief Public Health Officer". gcnws. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  6. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (February 5, 2015). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Public Health Agency of Canada Act". lois-laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (June 29, 2007). "The Role of the Chief Public Health Officer". aem. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  8. ^ Grant, Kelly (November 12, 2014). "Ottawa to limit power of Canada's top doctor". The Globe and Mail Inc.
  9. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (January 18, 2018). "Statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada". gcnws. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  10. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (June 26, 2018). "Health Equity Approach and Areas of Focus". gcnws. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Tam, Theresa (2018). "Fifteen years post-SARS: Key milestones in Canada's public health emergency response". Canada Communicable Disease Report. 44 (5): 98–101. doi:10.14745/ccdr.v44i05a01. PMC 6449094. PMID 31007618.
  12. ^ "Government of Canada Announces Details of New Public Health Agency of Canada and Appoints Acting Chief Public Health Officer". Government of Canada. May 17, 2004. Retrieved April 3, 2021.
  13. ^ "Federal government hasn't filled top doctor's job, 15 months later". Ottawa Citizen. September 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "Canada's top doctor Gregory Taylor retiring". CBC. December 14, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Dr. Gregory Taylor retires: Country's top doctor gives final word to Canadians about their health". Global News. December 15, 2016.
  16. ^ "Dr. Gregory Taylor retires: Country's top doctor gives final word to Canadians about their health". Global News. December 15, 2016.

External links[edit]