Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Pocket Book
Table of Contents
- A: Health Portfolio overview highlights
- B: Health Portfolio responsibilities
- C: The Portfolio
- D: Key messages
- E: Priority issues
- F: Key contacts
A: Health Portfolio overview highlights
- Health Canada (HC)
- Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
- Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB)
Deputy Minister and Agency Heads
- Dr. Stephen Lucas, DM – HC
- Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar, President – PHAC
- Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer – PHAC
- Dr. Siddika Mithani, President – CFIA
- Dr. Michael J. Strong, President – CIHR
- Dr. Mitchell Levine, Chair – PMPRB
2021-22 Budget and full-time equivalents (FTEs)
- HC: $3,862,798,658 / 8,013 FTEs
- PHAC: $13,147,500,000 / 4,995 planned FTEs
- CFIA: $785,702,399 / 6065 FTEs
- CIHR: $1,254,000,000 / 511 FTEs
- PMPRB: $18,892,322 / 85 FTEs
The COVID-19 pandemic
- Continuing to manage and lead the federal response to COVID-19 will be a primary focus for the Government of Canada, your ministerial colleague responsible for Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Health Portfolio.
- Since the onset, the Health Portfolio (particularly Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada) have played a central role in relation to Canada's COVID-19 response.
- This has included Protection: leading scenario planning, surveillance, modelling and data transparency, screening, testing and tracing, and evidence-based research; Prevention: public health human resources, PPE, as well as the regulation, procurement and rollout of vaccines, and border posture; and Promotion: proactive communications, science-based public health advice, engagement and coordination with provinces and territories, and addressing wider health inequities.
- As Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, you play a critical leadership role in ensuring everyone in Canada has better access to more mental health services and in supporting a recovery from the pandemic that is fair and inclusive. Your ministerial colleague responsible for Health plays a critical leadership role in the Covid-19 pandemic response, including working closely with key partners and stakeholders, particularly provincial and territorial governments that are the main health care providers in Canada.
Health of Canadians
- COVID-19 continues to dominate the lives of Canadians, resulting in suffering and loss of loved ones, financial hardships, and reduced social connections.
- Public health measures such as social distancing and wearing masks, implementing border measures, and securing enough vaccines to vaccinate all Canadians and supporting vaccination campaigns remain important tools to control the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
- While overall, Canadians have been resilient in the face of COVID-19, it has placed a significant burden on those who suffer from a mental illness.
- One in three Canadians will have experienced mental illness by age 40, with 10 to 12 Canadians dying by suicide each day. COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges, with reports of higher levels of anxiety and depression.
- The opioid crisis continues to ravage communities across Canada, with over 20,000 opioid-related deaths from January 2016 to December 2020. COVID-19 has worsened this crisis: seeing an 89 per cent increase in opioid-related deaths between April and December 2020 compared to the same period from 2019.
- Significant health inequities continue to exist in Canada between Canadians with different socioeconomic status and certain populations, including Indigenous peoples. Disparities exist in areas of life expectancy, infant mortality, rates of infectious disease, and mental illness hospitalizations among others.
Health system in Canada
- Health is a shared responsibility in Canada, with the federal government and the provinces and territories (PTs) having distinct roles.
- The Minister of Health is responsible for setting and administering national standards for the health care system through the Canada Health Act (CHA), and provides funding support for provincial and territorial health care services through the Canada Health Transfer.
- Federal health activities include providing health care to federal populations (e.g. Correctional Service Canada) and certain Indigenous communities (through Indigenous Services Canada), along with programs to protect and promote health, and regulate health and consumer products, food and harmful substances, and patented drug prices.
- PTs manage, organize and deliver health care services to their residents through provision of PT health insurance plans, and regulate health professions within PT jurisdiction.
- Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) collaboration, and collaboration across federal departments, is crucial to address health issues and health system challenges, especially in areas of shared responsibilities such as mental health and addiction services, health promotion, preventing the spread of communicable disease, and responding to public health emergencies.
- Canada's health care system faces several challenges, with significant demographic, technological and economic changes occurring in the decades since its design.
- These challenges include an ageing and more diverse population requiring increasing long-term care and home care needs, and a backlog of approximately 580,000 surgeries due to the pandemic.
- However, the pandemic created opportunities to make advancements in areas of digitization and virtual care, with federal investments supporting the development of new tools and virtual services across the country.
Mental health and substance use
- The federal government provides leadership on mental health and substance use issues, including through: policies and programming; data collection, surveillance and research; education and health promotion activities; and the provision of services to federal populations. Key partners include provinces and territories, which are responsible for the direct delivery of health services in the areas of mental health and substance use.
Federal health regulation
- The Health Portfolio administers and enforces over 160 regulations and 40 Acts, directly impacting the health and safety of Canadians.
- This includes providing regulatory oversight throughout the lifecycle (from clinical trials to market safety surveillance) of a wide range of health products including drugs, biologics (such as vaccines and tissues), medical devices, veterinary drugs, consumer products, natural health products, food, chemicals and pesticides.
- Health Canada introduced innovative measures through a new accelerated process for regulatory approvals to adapt to the urgent need caused by COVID-19 for safe and effective health products. For example, the Department strengthened and modernized COVID-19 vaccine reviews. Health Canada prioritized COVID-19 vaccine reviews, reducing the average number of days for review from 397 days pre-pandemic to 82 days, while also ensuring that vaccines are safe, effective and of high quality.
Health Research and Innovation in Canada
- The Health Portfolio contributes to health research by supporting the work of academics, researchers and research institutions (e.g., universities, hospitals, research centres), and health care and community organizations, primarily through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
- The Portfolio is also involved in international research activities to address emerging health threats, such as CIHR's efforts to align Canadian research with global research efforts through international collaboration.
- PHAC collects and analyzes data to inform action on a range of public health issues (e.g., cancer prevention, the opioid overdose crisis, mental health, and food-borne outbreaks) through over 85 surveillance systems used to generate reports, bulletins and health advisories.
B: Health Portfolio responsibilities
- The Health Portfolio is mandated to help Canadians maintain and improve their health.
- Portfolio's main activities include:
- Responding to public health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Strengthening Canada's universal health care system;
- Enabling access to safe and high-quality health and food products;
- Engaging people to adopt behaviours and make changes that reduce the risk of developing chronic disease, and promote health and well-being;
- Managing risks to health; and,
- Supporting health research and science, data collection and surveillance capacity.
- The portfolio is comprised of five science-based organizations:
- Health Canada (HC);
- Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC);
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR);
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA);
- The quasi-judicial Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB).
C: The Portfolio
Health Canada (HC)
- Pandemic response: Since January 2020, Health Canada has played a key role in contributing to the pandemic response. For example, in 2020-21 Health Canada approved five vaccines, which were then rolled out across the country.
- Supports universally accessible, publicly funded health care for Canadians through administration of the Canada Health Act, leadership on emerging issues, and cooperation with PTs on system improvements.
- Enables access to safe and effective health products by assessing and regulating health products, such as drugs and medical devices.
- Supports Canadians in making safe and healthy choices through public education and awareness campaigns to communicate health and safety information.
- Manages the health risks of harmful substances, cannabis, consumer products, chemicals and pesticides and reduces environmental health risks such as climate change.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- Pandemic response: Responsible for emergency preparedness and response, providing key services in the federal response including: coordinating with PTs, providing epidemiological and modelling information to support good decision making, financing and rolling out vaccines and supporting a public health focused border posture.
- Protects the health of Canadians by providing national leadership in anticipating, preparing for and responding to public health events and emergencies, and providing timely public health information to prevent disease and issues of concern.
- Promotes the well-being of Canadians by preventing the spread of infectious diseases, chronic disease and injury.
- Supports Canadians in making healthy choices by promoting healthy behaviour and practices, and addressing the root causes of health inequalities.
- Collaborates with a wide range of partners and stakeholders including provinces and territories, Indigenous and international partners, on shared health priorities.
- Supports public health action through surveillance, evidence and public education, and promotes the use of evidence by public health practitioners and policy makers.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
- Mandated to support research and innovation, CIHR uses the power of research to improve the health of Canadians, solve health challenges and make our health care system more efficient and effective.
- Invests over $1.254 billion annually to support over 14,000 world-class researchers and trainees, supporting biomedical, clinical, health systems services, and population health research pillars.
- Prioritizes activities that: advance research excellence in all its diversity; strengthen Canadian health research capacity; accelerate the self-determination of Indigenous peoples in health research; pursue health equity through research; and integrate evidence in health decisions; all while committing to organizational excellence.
- Supports Canada's research enterprise by working closely with other federal granting agencies (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), and with other domestic and international partners.
- Composed of 13 "virtual" institutes focusing on a specific area of research. Each institute is led by an internationally renowned scientist and works on a broad spectrum of topic areas.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- Safeguards Canada's food supply to keep Canadians safe and healthy.
- Protects Canada's plant and animal resources from pests and diseases.
- Supports Canadian food businesses as they compete, innovate and grow in domestic and global markets.
- Reports through the Minister of Health except in agriculturally focused areas, where the agency reports through the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB)
- Mandated to protect Canadian consumers from excessive drug pricing and report on drug trends and research and development (R&D) spending by patentees.
- Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) is an independent, quasi-judicial consumer protection agency at arm's length from the Minister of Health.
- PMPRB's Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day administration and oversight of its public service staff.
- The Minister of Health has responsibility for the PMPRB. Under the authority of the Patent Act (s. 90), the Minister may also direct the PMPRB to inquire into any matter regarding patented medicine prices and report its findings.
D: Key messages
- I am honoured to be appointed Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.
- I look forward to being briefed by officials from the Health Portfolio on the pressing issues related to mental health and substance use.
- I also look forward to working collaboratively with the provinces, territories, Indigenous partners and my federal counterparts.
If pressed on specific issues:
- Thank you for your question. That is certainly something on my radar, and an issue I look forward to learning much more about.
- As mentioned, I will soon be meeting with officials from the Health Portfolio. I welcome the opportunity to speak to you in more depth on this issue in the weeks to come.
E: Priority issues
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the prevalence of mental health conditions, particularly among groups such as women, youth, and other Canadians who experience marginalization and/or have complex needs. Service availability and quality varies across the country and some people experience barriers in accessing services that meet their diverse needs.
- I am deeply concerned about the impact the pandemic continues to have, especially on those with mental illness. I'm committed to doing all I can help those who are struggling and continue important investments in mental health services for Canadians. I look forward to helping all Canadians have better access to quality mental health supports.
Opioids / Substances
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the opioid overdose crisis and health outcomes of people who use substances. Toxic street drug supply, isolation, stress, and reduced access to services have contributed to an increase in harms and deaths. Additionally, stakeholders, advocates, and some jurisdictions have publicly called on the federal government to decriminalize personal drug possession in response to the overdose crisis.
- We have lost too many Canadians to overdose deaths. Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the ongoing overdose crisis in many jurisdictions.
- I look forward to working with all levels of government, partners and stakeholders to reduce the harms related to substance use and address this crisis.
F: Key contacts
Prime minister's office switchboard
Minister's office reception
Dr. Stephen Lucas
Associate Deputy Minister
Public Health Agency of Canada
Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Dr. Siddika Mithani
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Dr. Michael J. Strong
Patented Medicine Prices Review Board
Dr. Mitchell Levine
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