Importance of Science and Research

Health Canada depends on a strong base of science and research to meet its mission to help Canadians maintain and improve their health.

Science and Research at Work for You

Scientific know-how helps us to make decisions about health standards, health policy and regulations, and health programs. It also allows Health Canada to:

  • Prepare for and respond to health risks posed by diseases, environmental hazards, food and other threats;
  • Verify that such things as drugs, food and medical devices available to Canadians are safe and effective; and
  • Provide information to Canadians to help them make informed decisions about their health.

Health Canada depends on science and research to help us make key decisions. Scientific support gives us the information we need to develop the Department's regulations, policies and programs, and the delivery of programs and to deliver services and information.

Good scientific knowledge is necessary if Health Canada is to respond swiftly to new issues and to take advantage of opportunities.

Because of the scope of Health Canada's responsibilities, the Department counts on the work of scientists in a range of fields, including the natural and life sciences and social sciences. These scientists conduct the research and development and related scientific activities that the Department needs to deal with ongoing and new health issues.

But we can't always do it alone. Health Canada relies on partnerships with a network of national and international organizations to make sure we have the science we need. We also share our science and management practices with other federal departments to find groundbreaking solutions to important science-based problems and challenges.

For the department, Health Canada's Science and Technology Strategy provides a policy framework for science planning, priority setting and management. As we collaborate with our science partners - in the Health Portfolio, federal science-based departments and agencies, governments in Canada and other countries, international organizations and with stakeholders - the Strategy will help us to position ourselves more strategically and work more effectively.

Science is critical to our ability to identify emerging health issues, capitalize on opportunities, and minimize the risks to Canadians posed by products, drugs, tobacco, contaminants, and our environments. Scientists and researchers in Health Canada's Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB) work at the leading edge of their fields to make sure that decisions affecting the health of Canadians are made with the best evidence available. Their work supports policies, programmes, regulations, and legislation.

The Science and Research Serving Canadians Report provides a comprehensive overview of the science carried out in the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch. In addition to providing a description of science programmes within the Branch, the overview demonstrates how HECSB programmes are working to address current and emerging health priorities. This report shares our successes, highlights the importance of our scientific work to the health and safety of Canadians, and demonstrates the excellence of science conducted.

Health Canada's Science and Research Projects

Health Canada focuses on many different kinds of science and research projects. We have 15 laboratories, located across the country, that are devoted to the science necessary to help maintain and improve the health of Canadians.

Our work focuses on the following four main areas:

  • Diseases and health conditions;
  • Health and the environment;
  • Food, drugs and consumer products; and
  • Health protection and promotion.

Our projects range from investigating the possible health hazards associated with new foods to making sure that consumer products meet the standards outlined in the  Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and regulating medical devices and drugs.

It is only through such science and research that we can:

  • Develop the kinds of policies and regulations needed to help make sure that the products that enter our market are, and remain, safe; and
  • Gain the knowledge that we need to tackle the health issues of the future.

The Health Research Secretariat

The Health Research Secretariat's role is to:

  • Build partnerships nationally and internationally;
  • Promote Health Canada's many science and research activities and projects; and
  • Provide expert advice and analysis to senior management.

The Secretariat plays a key part in Health Canada's interaction with national and international organizations that are also involved in science and research. This work helps to build good working relationships around the world, allowing us to have access to the best possible science available.

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