Report on Annual Expenditures for Travel, Hospitality and Conferences, 2016-2017

As required by the Treasury Board Directive for the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences, this report provides information on the total annual expenditures for each of travel, hospitality and conferences for the Health Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.

This information is updated annually and does not contain information withheld under the Access to Information Act  or the Privacy Act.

Health Canada's mandate is to help Canadians maintain and improve their health. The Department is committed to improving the lives of all Canadians and to making this country's population among the healthiest in the world, as measured by longevity, lifestyle and effective use of the public health care system.

First, as a regulator, Health Canada is responsible for the regulatory regime governing the safety of products including food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, natural health products, consumer products, chemicals, radiation emitting devices, cosmetics and pesticides. It also regulates tobacco products and controlled substances, and helps manage the health risks posed by environmental factors such as air, water, radiation and contaminants.

The Department is also a service provider. The federal government has provided basic health services to First Nations since 1904. Today, Health Canada provides basic primary care services in approximately 200 remote First Nations communities, home and community care in 600 First Nations communities, support for health promotion programs in Inuit communities across four regions and a limited range of medically-necessary health-related goods and services not insured by private or other public health insurance plans to eligible First Nations and Inuit. The Department also funds or delivers community-based health programs and public health activities to First Nations and Inuit. These activities promote health, prevent chronic disease and address issues such as substance abuse and the spread of infectious diseases.

Health Canada is a catalyst for innovation, a funder, and an information provider in Canada's health system. It works closely with provincial and territorial governments to develop national approaches on health system issues and promotes the pan-Canadian adoption of best practices. It administers the Canada Health Act, which embodies national principles to ensure a universal and equitable publicly-funded health care system. It provides policy support for the federal government's Canada Health Transfer to provinces and territories, and provides funding through grants and contributions to various organizations to help meet Health Canada's objectives.  Lastly, the Department draws on leading-edge science and policy research to generate and share knowledge and information to support decision-making by Canadians, development and implementation of regulations and standards, and health innovation.

More information on Health Canada activities, plans and performance are detailed in the Departmental Results Report.

Health Canada travel, hospitality and conferences costs are associated with activities and events necessary to support the statutory, regulatory and the service provider requirements to deliver services to Canadians and to meet government wide priorities and departmental mandates.

As summarized in the table below, Health Canada's expenditure for travel, hospitality, and conferences (THC) totalled approximately $279.4M in 2016-2017, and is broken down as follows;

Travel – Patient: The majority (92.6%) of Health Canada's total THC envelope in 2016-17 is attributed to patient travel for medical transportation amounting to $258.7M. There are two components to medical (Patient Travel) as listed below:

  • $247.0M is for eligible First Nations and Inuit clients under the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program to access medically necessary health services that cannot be obtained on-reserve or in their community of residence, and,
  • $11.7M is for eligible former students and their families under the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program to access mental and emotional support services. The Department is obligated to provide these services under the 2006 Court-Approved IRS Settlement Agreement. 

Regular non-medical expenditure (Public and Non Public Servant Travel): In 2016-2017, regular non-medical expenditures amounted to $20.0M or 7.2% of Health Canada's total THC expenditures.  These expenditures are for other essential travel requirements critical to health and safety of Canadians, such as those related to compliance and enforcement activities for various regulatory programs involving food, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and others.

Hospitality and conferences expenditures: In 2016-2017, hospitality and conference expenditures totaled $0.7M, or less than 1% of the Health Canada's THC expenditures.  These expenditures are associated with essential activities necessary for delivery of Health Canada programs and services, including conducting business with other levels of government, industry, or public interest groups.

Overall, Health Canada manages travel, hospitality, and conference activities / expenditures with prudence and probity so that they demonstrate value for money and use the most economical options to minimize costs whenever possible.

The total annual expenditures for travel, hospitality and conferences for 2016-17 and 2015-16 for Health Canada are summarized below:
Expenditure Category Expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2017
Expenditures for the previous year ending March 31, 2016
Variance (1)
(a – b)

(*) Includes international travel that is part of a department's program.

(in thousands of dollars)
Travel – Patient $258,733 $219,950 $38,783
Travel – Public Servants $16,585 $17,346 ($761)
Travel – Non-Public Servants $3,414 $2,865 $549
International Travel by Minister and Minister's Staff * $47 $6 $41
Total Travel $278,779 $240,167 $38,612
Hospitality $202 $155 $47
Conference Fees $411 $429 ($18)
TOTAL $279,392 $240,751 $38,641


  1. Patient Travel: Compared to fiscal year 2015-2016,departmental patient travel expenditures have increased by $38.8M or 17.6% mainly due to:
    • Patient Travel had higher than anticipated annual growth of 10.9% in 2016-17 (as compared to 5.0% in 2015-16 and 6.3% in 2014-15). The increase is primarily linked to uptake in accessing services, especially in response to community crises and increased need for individuals to travel outside their communities to access mental health services.
  2. Public Servants: Compared to fiscal year 2015-2016, departmental travel expenditures by public servants decreased by $0.8M or 4.4% mainly due to:
    • Public servants travel costs were reduced as a result of general fiscal restraint during fiscal year 2016-17 across the department. The department continues to avoid travel costs where possible by increasing the usage of video conferencing rather than in person meetings.
  3. Non-Public Servants: Compared to fiscal year 2015-2016, departmental travel expenditures by non-public servants increased by $549K, or 19.2% due to:
    • The increased cost of travel to remote communities by contract nurses.
  4. International Travel by Minister and Minister's Staff: Compared to fiscal year 2015-2016, international travel expenditures by the Minister and her staff increased by $41K. This is a result of the Minister attending 4 International Health related meetings to advance Canada's health priorities versus 1 International trip the previous fiscal year.

Hospitality: Compared to fiscal year 2015-2016, departmental hospitality expenditures increased by $47K or 30.3% mainly due to:

  • The increase in hospitality is a result of increased external client engagement by the Marijuana Legalization task team, Tobacco Forum, and increased stakeholder engagement (radiopharmaceutical, food and nutrition issues).

Conference Fees: Compared to fiscal year 2015-2016, departmental conference fees expenditures decreased by $18K or 4.2% mainly due to an effort to limit attendees.

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