Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

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Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
Government of Canada signature.svg
Incumbent
Theresa Tam

since 26 June, 2017
Public Health Agency of Canada
AbbreviationCPHO
Member ofPublic Health Agency of Canada
Reports toMinister of Health (Canada)
AppointerGovernor in Council
Inaugural holderDavid Butler-Jones
Formation2004
Websitehttps://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/corporate/organizational-structure/canada-chief-public-health-officer.html

The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) is the title of the senior government official on matters related to the health and safety of Canadians. The post is held by a health professional who acts as the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which was established in 2004 amidst the SARS crisis.[1]

Origin of the Office[edit]

The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) position was created by the Government of Canada in 2004, along with the Public Health Agency of Canada[2].

Term of Office[edit]

As per the Public Health Agency of Canada Act (2006), the CPHO holds office "during pleasure for a term not exceeding five years [3]" (8[1]). They can be reappointed for additional terms (8[2]).

Qualifications and Selection[edit]

The CPHO is selected through an open and transparent national competitive process, and appointed by the Governor in Council [4]. The process is merit-based: as per the Public Health Agency of Canada Act (2006), the CPHO must be a qualified public health professional[5] (6[2]).

Responsibilities[edit]

The CPHO is responsible for [6]:

  • 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;
  • 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 (f.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 Canadian Minister of Health, and others; and
  • Communicating public health information to Canadians via different channels.

Areas of Focus[edit]

2017-Present[edit]

Dr. Theresa Tam, who has held the position since 26 June 2017, released a vision statement in early 2018[7]: 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[8] are currently:

  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

Incumbents[edit]

  1. Dr. David Butler-Jones was the agency's first leader.[1]
  2. Dr. Gregory W. Taylor held the position from 2014 until his retirement in December 2016.[1]
  3. Dr. Theresa Tam was appointed Chief Public Health Officer in June 2017.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d The Globe and Mail. Chief Public Health Officer. Accessed 29 June 2017.
  2. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (2007-06-29). "The Role of the Chief Public Health Officer". aem. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  3. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (2015-02-05). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Public Health Agency of Canada Act". lois-laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  4. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (2017-06-25). "Government of Canada Appoints Chief Public Health Officer". gcnws. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  5. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (2015-02-05). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Public Health Agency of Canada Act". lois-laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  6. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (2007-06-29). "The Role of the Chief Public Health Officer". aem. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  7. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (2018-01-18). "Statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada". gcnws. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  8. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (2018-06-26). "Health Equity Approach and Areas of Focus". gcnws. Retrieved 2019-04-05.

External links[edit]