Vision and areas of focus

All Canadians deserve a chance to achieve optimal health.

I will champion the reduction of health disparities in key populations in Canada so that the poorest and most marginalized among us have a chance to lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally.

I am committed to working with all of our partners, to support science and research to provide the best evidence to inform our actions, and to engage with Canadians, especially those with lived experience.

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Dr. Theresa Tam was appointed as Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) on June 26, 2017. As part of this responsibility, Dr. Tam has released a statement on her vision and priorities for her tenure as CPHO, which introduced her health equity approach and six areas of focus for prevention and promotion.

The CPHO champions the reduction of health disparities in Canada by focusing on the needs of the poorest and most marginalized Canadians. The ultimate goal is to help level the playing field and to contribute to all Canadians reaching their optimal health.

The CPHO works in collaboration with the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada and with all areas of the Agency:

  • to exercise public health leadership as one of Canada’s top public health leaders;
  • to communicate significant public health issues using this unique voice and using various means and channels; and
  • to encourage and lead innovative partnerships and actions

Action on Factors Influencing Health

Many of Canada’s most pressing public health issues are complex and significantly impacted by stigma and social factors such as education, income, housing and accessible and affordable food. The CPHO recognizes that addressing health inequities can only happen by addressing their social determinants.

In fact, Dr. Tam states, “social determinants of health, such as income, have a bigger impact on our health outcomes than genetics, the healthcare system, or most health care services.”

The CPHO raises awareness and is a catalyst for action on factors influencing health, which include:

  • Income
  • Education
  • Social environment
  • Physical environment
  • Social support networks
  • Sex & gender
  • Healthy child development
  • Culture

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Date published: 2018-06-26

Generating evidence-based decisions

Fundamental to the CPHO’s approach is science – translating the evidence into knowledge and providing health advice to the Minister of Health, the President of the Public Health Agency, and to Canadians. The CPHO leverages scientific expertise from within the Agency, academia, Canadian and international health experts, and federal, provincial and territorial partners to inform her advice. The Public Health Agency of Canada Act requires that the CPHO submit an annual report to the Minster of Health on the state of public health in Canada. In addition to the annual report, the CPHO releases mini-reports, called Spotlights, on particular public health priorities throughout the year.

The reports are evidence-based and involve extensive reviews, bringing forward the most-up-to-date surveillance data and synthesis of current natural and social sciences. 

Working in Partnership

To help address health equity, efforts from many areas of government, partners and individuals are required. The CPHO plays a role in leading, convening conversations, and mobilizing multi-sectoral support.

The social determinants of health are complex and so too are the solutions; they are multi-faceted, requiring the efforts of many stakeholders, including:

  • Canadians with lived experiences
  • International Partners
  • Academia
  • Parliamentarians
  • Federal, provincial/territorial governments
  • Not-for-profit & private sectors
  • Primary health care partners
  • Indigenous partners

Areas of Focus

The CPHO is championing the reduction of health disparities in Canada through a prevention and promotion approach focusing on six areas:

Cannabis, opioids, alcohol

Multi-sectoral efforts informed by listening to people with lived and living experience; working to address factors for the prevention of problematic substance; reducing stigma and discrimination so individuals will access the supports they need.

Eliminating Tuberculosis

There is no better time than now to accelerate efforts to eliminate this treatable and curable disease by working with communities, Indigenous leaders, governments at all levels, academics, experts, and other stakeholders.

Healthy children & youth

By working with partners to provide children the best start in life through the promotion of breastfeeding, physical activity, positive mental health and immunization in order to improve child and youth health.

Sexually transmitted & blood-borne infections

Working with key stakeholders to increase awareness and education to reduce sexually transmitted and blood borne infections as well as to reduce stigma and discrimination in key populations. 

Anti-microbial resistance

Working with key domestic and international stakeholders to increase awareness, prevention and educational activities to strengthen the responsible use of antimicrobials in healthcare, community, veterinary and agricultural settings.   

Healthy built environments

Collaborating with partners to build environments that help make healthier choices easy for people through improved availability of active transportation, accessibility to healthy foods, and supportive environments which can have a tremendous impact in helping Canadians live healthier lives.

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