Public Health Agency of Canada

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Public Health Agency of Canada
Agence de la santé publique du Canada
PHAC wordmark.svg
Agency overview
Formed2004 (2004)
Preceding agency
JurisdictionGovernment of Canada
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario
Employees2,379 (March 2019)[1]
Annual budget$675.4 million (2018–19)[2]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
Parent departmentHealth Canada
Child agencies
  • National Microbiology Laboratory, Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control (CIDPC), Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CEPR), Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses (LFZ),Pandemic Preparedness Secretariat (PPS)Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch (HPCDP)
  • Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control (CCDPC), Centre for Health Promotion (CHP), Transfer Payment Services and Accountability Division, Public Health Practice (PHPRO), Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP), Strategic Policy, Communications and Corporate Services Branch (SPCCS)
Key document
Websitewww.phac-aspc.gc.ca

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC; French: Agence de la santé publique du Canada, ASPC) is an agency of the Government of Canada that is responsible for public health, emergency preparedness and response, and infectious and chronic disease control and prevention.

History[edit]

The PHAC was formed by Order in Council in 2004 under the Martin government and subsequently by legislation that came into force on December 15, 2006 under the Harper government. It is part of the federal government's Health Portfolio (along with Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and other organizations).

At the time of its creation in 1998,[clarification needed] most of the agency's staff were located in the former Gandalf Technologies building in Nepean, south of Ottawa, and were part of Health Canada's Population and Public Health Branch.

In 2009, when the 2009 swine flu pandemic episode occurred, the PHAC had already been chartered for three years. In Canada, roughly 10% of the populace were infected with the virus,[3] with 363 confirmed deaths (as of December 8); confirmed cases had reached 10,000 when Health Canada stopped counting in July.[4] Canada began its vaccination campaign in October and vaccinated a higher proportion of its citizens than any other country.[3][5][6][7] The pandemic was the subject of a review document, issued in November 2010.[8]

In 2015, CPHO Gregory Taylor left vacant a Beijing position, which had until 2015 "stationed a Canadian doctor in the Chinese capital as a direct point of connection to Chinese health officials (and an independent observer). In the absence of its own early-warning system, Canada was forced to rely more heavily on the WHO." Adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and national security critic Wesley Wark laments that vacancy, and said "What we didn't have was the capacity – our own independent capacity – to verify" the state of affairs in China, which was the source of the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak from which was drawn the raison-d'etre of the PHAC. This state of affairs came to light in various media at various times during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[9]

On 24 May 2019, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) of PHAC was completely disbanded and a "department edict that all such alerts had to be approved by senior managers" of PHAC was issued.[10] On 30 July 2020, the auditor general of Canada took notice of a Globe and Mail report in which whistleblowers had participated and launched an investigation into the scandal. The GPHIN had been part of Canada's contribution to the WHO, which described GPHIN as "a cornerstone" and "the foundation" of global early warning. In fact "approximately 20 per cent of the WHO's epidemiological intelligence" had come from GPHIN before it was silenced.[11]

On September 18, 2020 Tina Namiesniowski, then president of the PHAC resigned 17 months into her five-year tenure, which had begun on May 6, 2019. Her resignation follows the resignation of vice-president in charge of the pandemic early warning system and emergency stockpile had resigned earlier in the week.[12]

Organizational structure[edit]

The president is a Governor in Council appointment for a term of typically five years.[13] The post is presently held by Iain Stewart.[14]

The chief public health officer (CPHO) is Canada's lead health professional. The CPHO is also a Governor in Council appointment who's role is to provide advice to the minister of health and to support and provide advice to the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Dr. Theresa Tam was named CPO on June 26, 2017.[15]

The Public Health Agency of Canada Act[16] empowers the CPHO to communicate with other levels of government, voluntary organizations, the private sector and Canadians on public health issues. Each year, the CPHO is required to submit a report to the minister of health on the state of public health in Canada.

The PHAC houses several bureaucrats:

  • Chief Public Health Officer
  • Senior Assistant Deputy Minister—Population and Public Health Integration Branch
  • Assistant Deputy Minister—Infectious Disease and Emergency Preparedness
  • Deputy CPHO—Health Protection and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch
  • Vice-President, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch
  • Executive Director—Corporate Secretariat
  • Vice-President, Health Security Infrastructure Branch

Because the portfolio at the PHAC crosses so many boundaries, and especially jurisdictional ones, the civil servants have evolved what are known as Special Advisory Committees (SAC), which include Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) officials such as deputy ministers of health, so as to attempt to ensure a timely response to the needs of Canadians.

The Public Health Network Council (PHNC) is an FPT committee that is co-chaired by the deputy CPHO, Dr Howard Njoo. The PHNC is populated by an array of directors, deputies, chiefs, experts and coordinators, from far and wide the public health guardians of Canada.

The FPT SAC on Public Health Response Plan for Biological Events has been in place since at least October 2017:[17]

outlines how the national response to public health events caused by biological agents will be conducted and coordinated, with a focus on implementation of responses led by senior-level FPT public health decision-makers. The plan was developed by an expert task group and was approved by PHNC in October, 2017. The plan describes roles, responsibilities and authorities of FPT governments for public health and emergency management, a concept of operations outlining four scalable response levels and a governance structure that aims to facilitate an efficient, timely, evidence-informed and consistent approach across jurisdictions.

Headquarters[edit]

The PHAC headquarters are located in two pillars—one is in Ottawa, and the other is the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the location of Canada's only Level 4 microbiology lab for human health.

Responsibilities[edit]

The PHAC is the locus of control for several systemic healthcare defences, amongst which are included:[18]

As well as the above, the PHAC houses the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CEPR), Canadian Field Epidemiology Program (CFEP) and the Canadian Public Health Service (CPHS).[19]

Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response[edit]

The CEPR is responsible for possible health risks from:[20]

  • natural events and disasters such as floods, earthquakes, fires and highly dangerous infectious diseases; and
  • accidents or criminal and terrorist acts involving explosives, chemicals, radioactive substances or biological threats.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "GC InfoBase". www.tbs-sct.gc.ca.
  2. ^ "GC InfoBase". www.tbs-sct.gc.ca.
  3. ^ a b Alphonso, Caroline (25 November 2009). "Severe allergic reaction seen after H1N1 flu shot". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 27 November 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2009. "Roughly 10 per cent of Canadians have been infected, and another 25 per cent have been immunized."
  4. ^ Government of Canada – Health Canada: Update bulletins for influenza A H1N1 2009 (human swine influenza)
  5. ^ "CBC – The Road to Rollout, 6 Nov. 2009".
  6. ^ "Bi-weekly and cumulative number of deaths due to Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, by province/territory, Canada". Public Health Agency of Canada. 26 November 2009. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  7. ^ "One quarter of Canadians immunized for H1N1: Top doc". Toronto Star. 16 November 2009. Archived from the original on 19 November 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2009. The country's chief public health officer says almost one-quarter of Canadians have been immunized against swine flu. Dr. David Butler-Jones says Canada is leading the world when it comes to the percentage of the population vaccinated.
  8. ^ McNeill, R.; Topping, J.; FPT Response Plan Task Group (2018). "Federal, provincial and territorial public health response plan for biological events". Canada Communicable Disease Report. 44 (1): 1–5. doi:10.14745/ccdr.v44i01a01. PMC 5937070. PMID 29770090.
  9. ^ "Flattery and foot dragging: China's influence over the WHO under scrutiny". The Globe and Mail Inc. 25 April 2020.
  10. ^ Robertson, Grant (7 September 2020). "Health Minister orders review of pandemic warning system, concerns raised by scientists". The Globe and Mail Inc.
  11. ^ Robertson, Grant (30 July 2020). "Auditor-General to probe lapse in Canada's pandemic warning system". The Globe and Mail Inc.
  12. ^ Robertson, Grant (18 September 2020). "Head of Canada's Public Health Agency resigns". The Globe and Mail Inc.
  13. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (February 5, 2015). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Public Health Agency of Canada Act". lois-laws.justice.gc.ca.
  14. ^ "Public Health Agency of Canada gets new president as current one steps down". CTVNews. 2020-09-21. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  15. ^ Canada, Public Health Agency of (June 29, 2007). "Chief Public Health Officer of Canada". aem.
  16. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (February 5, 2015). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Public Health Agency of Canada Act". lois-laws.justice.gc.ca.
  17. ^ McNeill, R.; Topping, J.; FPT Response Plan Task Group (2018). "Federal, provincial and territorial public health response plan for biological events". Canada Communicable Disease Report. 44 (1): 1–5. doi:10.14745/ccdr.v44i01a01. PMC 5937070. PMID 29770090.
  18. ^ "LESSONS LEARNED REVIEW: PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA AND HEALTH CANADA RESPONSE TO THE 2009 H1N1 PANDEMIC" (PDF). Public Health Agency of Canada. November 2010.
  19. ^ "Outbreak support". Public Health Agency of Canada. 2017-11-16.
  20. ^ "Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response". Public Health Agency of Canada. 2005-10-17.

External links[edit]