Page 3: Public Health Agency of Canada– 2015-2016  – Departmental Performance Report - Section I

Section I: Organizational Overview

Organizational Profile

Appropriate Minister: The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.

Institutional Head: Siddika Mithani, Ph.D.

Ministerial Portfolio: Health

Enabling Instruments: Public Health Agency of Canada Act, Department of Health Act, Emergency Management Act, Quarantine Act, Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, Health of Animals Act, and the Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease.

Year of Incorporation / Commencement: 2004

Other: In June 2012, the Deputy Heads of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada signed a Shared Services Partnership Framework Agreement. Under this agreement, each organization retains responsibility for a different set of internal services and corporate functions. These include human resources, real property, information management / information technology, security, internal financial services, communications, emergency management, international affairs, internal audit services, and evaluation services.

Organizational Context

Raison d’être

Public health involves the organized efforts of society to keep people healthy and to prevent illness, injury and premature death. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has put in place programs, services and policies that protect and promote the health of all Canadians. In Canada, public health is a responsibility that is shared by all three levels of government in collaboration with the private sector, non-governmental organizations, health professionals and the public.

In September 2004, PHAC was created within the federal Health Portfolio to deliver on the Government of Canada’s commitment to increase its focus on public health in order to help protect and improve the health and safety of all Canadians and to contribute to strengthening public health capacities across Canada.

Responsibilities

PHAC has the responsibility to:

  • Contribute to the prevention of disease and injury, and to the promotion of health;
  • Enhance surveillance information and expand the knowledge of disease and injury in Canada;
  • Provide federal leadership and accountability in managing national public health events;
  • Strengthen intergovernmental collaboration on public health and facilitate national approaches to public health policy and planning; and
  • Serve as a central point for sharing Canada’s public health expertise with international partners, and to translate international knowledge and approaches to inform and support Canada’s public health priorities and programs for example, by participating in international working groups to develop new public health tools to protect, mitigate and respond to public health threats and emergencies.

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture (PAA)

  • 1. Strategic Outcome: Protecting Canadians and empowering them to improve their health
    • 1.1 Program: Public Health Infrastructure
      • 1.1.1 Sub-Program: Public Health Capacity Building
      • 1.1.2 Sub-Program: Public Health Information and Networks
      • 1.1.3 Sub-Program: Public Health Laboratory Systems
    • 1.2 Program: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
      • 1.2.1 Sub-Program: Infectious Disease Prevention and Control
        • 1.2.1.1 Sub-Sub-Program: Immunization
        • 1.2.1.2 Sub-Sub-Program: Infectious and Communicable Disease
        • 1.2.1.3 Sub-Sub-Program: Food-borne, Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Disease
      • 1.2.2 Sub-Program: Conditions for Healthy Living
        • 1.2.2.1 Sub-Sub-Program: Healthy Child Development
        • 1.2.2.2 Sub-Sub-Program: Healthy Communities
      • 1.2.3 Sub-Program: Chronic (non-communicable) Disease and Injury Prevention
    • 1.3 Program: Health Security
      • 1.3.1 Sub-Program: Emergency Preparedness and Response
      • 1.3.2 Sub-Program: Border Health Security
      • 1.3.3 Sub-Program: Biosecurity
    • Internal Services

Operating Environment and Risk Analysis

Operating Environment

PHAC operates within a dynamic and complex environment. Health challenges evolve constantly and cross borders easily as we have seen with the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and the emergence of the Zika virus in the Americas. Because Canada’s health system includes many partners and levels of government, PHAC fulfills its mandated responsibilities while working with partners to identify and address issues and respond to trends of relevance to the public health needs of Canadians. To do so, PHAC works closely with domestic and international stakeholders to take action, evaluate results and pursue constant improvement.

The risks identified in the table below are from PHAC’s 2013–15 Corporate Risk Profile. They could have significant impacts on PHAC’s contributions to the health and safety of Canadians. PHAC responds with strategies designed to limit those risks and measures performance of those strategies through its Corporate Risk Profile process.

Key Risks
Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to the Organization's Programs
1) Pandemic, including but not limited to influenza

What is the risk?

There is a risk that PHAC will not be able to effectively monitor, detect and coordinate a response to infectious disease outbreaks, and effective medical countermeasures will not be available.

As described under Organizational Priorities and in Section III, PHAC took actions such as:
  • Implementing a strategy with stakeholders to manage vaccine supply risks;
  • Completing an Avian Influenza Virus study with Ryerson University that leverages novel research methods to identify influenza virus trends and growth to better understand the disease and inform future detection and response strategies;
  • Developing a plan to improve monitoring of influenza activity and outcomes in Canada;
  • Updating the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector; and
  • Identifying requirements for medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and other treatments, to address emerging global infectious diseases and threats, such as smallpox and anthrax.
1.1, 1.2, 1.3
2) Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

What is the risk?

There is a risk that the absence of a comprehensive national action plan may exacerbate the growing impact of AMR on the health and well-being of Canadians.

As described under Organizational Priorities and in Section III, PHAC took actions such as:
  • Leading development of a Pan-Canadian Antimicrobial Framework with partners;
  • Working with international partners toward the development and implementation of a Global Action Plan on AMR in consideration of Canadian actions;
  • Continuing to improve the Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System; and
  • Developing and supplying public education materials to promote the appropriate use of antibiotics in humans.
1.1, 1.2
3) Food-Borne Diseases

What is the risk?

There is a risk that PHAC may not receive all relevant, integrated information to inform early interventions, and that partners will not be aware of the information generated by PHAC in a timely manner required to prevent illness.

As described under Organizational Priorities and in Section III, PHAC took actions such as:
  • Developing Foodbook, Canada’s first source of national food exposure data;
  • Developing risk assessment tools for food-borne illness;
  • Developing the PulseNet Canada genomics roadmap; and
  • Starting implementation of the Blueprint for a Federated System for Public Health Surveillance in Canada.
1.1, 1.2, 1.3
4) Vector-Borne Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

What is the risk?

There is a risk that the health care and economic costs of vector-borne disease may increase without a national approach to monitor and assess these diseases and to enable the implementation of prevention and control measures.

As described under Organizational Priorities and in Section III, PHAC took actions such as:
  • Addressing threats such as Zika through the development of expert advice, guidance, laboratory diagnostic support and surge capacity to inform patient care, infectious disease surveillance, and travel health notices;
  • Working with stakeholders to support the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease, including the identification of research priorities and continued implementation of the three-year Action Plan; and
  • Developing a risk model to predict the emergence of vector-borne diseases in Canada.
1.1, 1.2
5) Chronic Disease

What is the risk?

There is a risk that PHAC’s ability to provide timely and relevant analysis of chronic disease risk and trends over time will be reduced due to data gaps affecting analysis of the factors/conditions that determine risk for chronic diseases or protective factors.

As described under Organizational Priorities and in Section III, PHAC took actions such as: 1.2

Organizational Priorities

Priority: Strengthened public health capacity and science leadership

Description

The Government of Canada plays an essential role in supporting the public health of Canadians and PHAC is a key player in carrying out that role. PHAC helps to improve the public health practices that directly affect Canadians by strengthening approaches to the undertaking of scientific research; providing oversight of the surveillance systems that enable public health concerns to be tracked, reported, and addressed; and building the evidence base that improves decision-making pertaining to public health matters.

Priority Type

Previously committed to.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization's Programs
Develop and lead implementation of web-based tools (e.g., Foodbook and Outbreak Summaries) to host food consumption and disease outbreak data. April 2015 March 2016 Completed 1.1, 1.2
Support development of Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network National Syphilis Laboratory Guidelines. April 2015 March 2016 Completed 1.1
Implement a dynamic knowledge website to improve access to and sharing of information on Ebola and other virulent infectious diseases with health and allied professionals. January 2015 March 2017 On track 1.1
Implement Phase II of the All Events Response Operations (AERO)Table note a to support staff deployments. April 2015 September 2016 On track 1.1
Lead Federal, Provincial, and Territorial (F/P/T) development of a governance approach to support Canadian surveillance discussions and decision-making. April 2015 September 2019 On track 1.1

Progress Toward the Priority

Key achievements during the year in PHAC’s ongoing work to help build Canada’s public health capacity and provide the science leadership that the Government of Canada’s partners in the health system expect included:

  • Developing and/or leading the implementation of tools to collect and analyze public health data and to better communicate information to the health system and Canadians such as:
    • Foodbook, which brings together food consumption and illness data collected during the Foodbook Study from provinces and territories into a single place for stakeholders to draw from;
    • Outbreak Summaries which document outbreak data and make it available in a standardized manner;
    • Over 100 national public health alerts sent through the Canadian Network for Public Health Intelligence; and
    • Innovations making information on healthy living, healthy aging, and injury prevention more accessible to Canadians through infographics and data blogs.
  • Working, in collaboration with F/P/T partners, to identify priority antimicrobial resistant organisms and data measures;
  • Developing a new Blueprint for a Federated System for Public Health Surveillance in Canada to support decision-making by all jurisdictions to keep Canadians safer from diseases;
  • Strengthening the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCC) to improve the application of research evidence in public health policy and decision-making; and
  • Supporting development of the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network National Syphilis Laboratory Guidelines to help standardize and improve diagnostic practices.

More details on many of these actions are provided in Section III.

Priority: Leadership on health promotion and disease prevention

Description

The Government of Canada recognizes that social, economic and environmental conditions can affect Canadians’ health status and can increase the potential for disease. PHAC is a focal point for federal government action to address these realities. By focusing on building a stronger evidence base and collaborating with stakeholders in all parts of Canadian life, as well as internationally, PHAC provides governments, health providers and individual Canadians with the knowledge that supports informed decision-making.

Priority Type

Previously committed to.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization's Programs
Develop an internet accessible platform to increase the scope and quality of HIV drug resistance information. April 2015 January 2016 Completed 1.1, 1.2
Launch a pilot national monitoring tool that gathers real-time crowd-sourced data on influenza-like activity. April 2015 March 2016 Completed 1.1, 1.2
Promote mental health, which will include releasing, implementing, and reporting on the implementation of the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention. April 2015 March 2017 On track 1.2
Invest in partnerships, foster technological innovations, and support initiatives to promote awareness of dementia and reduce stigma. June 2015 December 2017 On track 1.2

Progress Toward the Priority

Key achievements during the year in PHAC’s ongoing work to help address health promotion and disease prevention priorities in Canada included:

  • Engaging partners and stakeholders to share knowledge on suicide as part of work towards a new Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, and supporting the development of a National Suicide Prevention Service (phone, text, and chat) that will link existing crisis support services, offering nationally available 24/7 crisis support;
  • Continuing to address family violence as part of the federal Family Violence Initiative, through mechanisms such as the Stop Family Violence website that makes information easily accessible;
  • Building trauma survivors’ knowledge, skills, resilience and capacity to maintain and improve their physical and mental health by funding seven new community-based projects across Canada that are applying a range of health promotion approaches;
  • Contributing to the prevention and control of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms by improving approaches to tracking drug resistance, laboratory diagnostics and analytical methods and through awareness activities and information such as a new internet accessible platform (HyDRA) to increase the scope and quality of HIV drug resistance information; and
  • Adding to the prevention and control of infectious diseases through activities such as:
    • Monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines for infectious disease strains in Canada;
    • Launching a national pilot of “FluWatchers”, which gathers real-time crowd-sourced data on influenza-like activity directly from Canadians; and
    • Developing a report on the state of vaccine acceptance and uptake in Canada with recommendations to inform the priorities and activities under the National Immunization Strategy.

More details on many of these actions are provided in Section III.

Priority: Enhanced public health security

Description

The Government of Canada works closely with partners and stakeholders to identify, develop, and implement measures that protect the health and safety of Canadians every day. PHAC focuses on preparing for and responding to public health events and emergencies, enhancing border health security, and regulating pathogens and toxins in Canada. PHAC also works with stakeholders to deal with the public health implications of broader global threats to public health, such as climate change impacts of extreme weather events, higher temperatures, and poor air quality.

Priority Type

Previously committed to.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization's Programs
Acquisition of medical countermeasures. April 2015 March 2017 On track 1.3
Coordination of the domestic health component of the arrival of Syrian Refugees. October 2015 February 2016 Completed 1.3
Modernizing the regulatory scheme relating to potable water served to passengers on board trains, vessels, aircraft and buses. April 2012 March 2016 Completed 1.3
Bring into force and implement the Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations. March 2015 March 2017 On track 1.3
Monitor vaccine safety and provide reports on adverse events in collaboration with national, provincial, and territorial public health authorities. April 2015 March 2016 Completed 1.1, 1.2

Progress Toward the Priority

Key achievements during the year in PHAC’s ongoing work to enhance public health security in Canada included:

  • Strengthening Canada’s preparedness efforts by acquiring smallpox and anthrax medical countermeasures to protect Canadians, including from bioterrorism;
  • Acquiring the medical countermeasures necessary to be prepared for potential Ebola cases; and
  • Continued monitoring of vaccine safety through the Canadian Adverse Events Following Immunization Surveillance System with four reports on adverse events during the year.

More details on many of these actions are provided in Section III.

Priority: Excellence and innovation in management

Description

The Government has committed to delivering open, transparent, and effective public services. PHAC upholds this commitment by pursuing innovation and continuous improvement in the design and delivery of its programs and services. PHAC strives to create an environment that cultivates effective management, engagement, teamwork, and professional development opportunities required of a high-performing organization.

Priority Type

Previously committed to.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Status Link to the Organization's Programs
Advance the application of the Performance Management initiative and the Canada School of Public Service learning model as part of an overall talent management strategy to support and sustain a culture of high performance. April 2015 March 2017 On track Internal Services
Execute the Multi-Year Diversity and Employment Equity Plan to support a diverse workforce. April 2015 March 2017 On track Internal Services
Implement Workplace 2.0 to create a modern workplace that will attract, retain and encourage public servants to work smarter, greener, and healthier. April 2015 March 2017 On track Internal Services

Progress Toward the Priority

Excellence and innovation in management involved initiatives through the Shared Services Partnership that included:

  • Supporting a culture of high performance and learning;
  • Raising awareness of the importance of employment equity, duty to accommodate, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as exceeding representation rates for women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and visible minorities above labour market availability; and
  • Implementing projects that standardize and modernize workstations and adopting technologies for a more efficient and mobile workplace.

More details on many of these actions are provided in Section III.

For more information on organizational priorities, see the Minister's mandate letter.

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