Statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada


January 18, 2018

As Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, I am frequently asked to outline my priorities and plans for promoting and improving the overall health of Canadians.

My overarching role is to provide the Minister of Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada with evidence-based public health advice to improve and protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Over the course of my mandate, I will champion the reduction of health disparities in key populations in Canada. All Canadians deserve a chance to achieve optimal health so that they can fully participate in, and contribute to, society. A healthy Canada requires us to level the playing field, so that the poorest and most marginalized among us have a chance to lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally.

In so doing, 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. I will continue to work collaboratively with ‎the Public Health Network Council, the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, and with other federal ministries who, through their mandates and programming, can help effect change in the inequity landscape.

The Government of Canada has made a commitment to working closely with Indigenous Peoples to close socio-economic gaps and collaborate on shared priorities. This commitment will be at the forefront as I advance my priorities and contribute to broader efforts to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

Beyond the Public Health Agency of Canada's important role in disease prevention, health promotion, emergency preparedness and response, and scientific activities, I intend to have a particular focus on the following key areas:

  • problematic substance use, with a focus on opioids and alcohol‎, and supporting pan-Canadian public education efforts on cannabis use and its potential health impacts for children and youth;
  • reducing tuberculosis in Indigenous Peoples and immigrant populations;
  • promoting childhood health with a focus on obesity, mental health, immunizations and breastfeeding;
  • reducing sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections in at-risk populations;
  • promoting the sound use of antibiotics and raising awareness of the risk of antimicrobial resistance; and
  • raising awareness, as highlighted in my annual report, on how the built environment contributes to widening or reducing health inequities.

To deliver on these priorities, a collaborative and comprehensive approach is required because the public health community does not have all of the levers necessary to tackle these complex challenges. To be successful, we need a wide variety of partners from many different sectors ‎of society from public health to primary care, to social services and economic development, and linking the not-for-profit sector with private sector partners. We must work together to address the underlying factors that prevent people from achieving optimal health, such as poverty, lack of safe and affordable housing, the accessibility to nutritious and affordable food, family violence, and physical and social environments.

A healthy Canada is a prosperous Canada. I will do my part in helping achieve this common goal.

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer

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