Canadian Public Health Service

Putting more public health officers to work for Canadians

The Canadian Public Health Service (CPHS) builds Canada's public health capacity by employing and training professionals. The Service places public health officers (PHOs) in jurisdictions across Canada to address both ongoing and emerging needs. These placements benefit the host organization and strengthen Canada's public health workforce and professional network. More than 20 PHOs currently work on two-year placements with provincial, territorial and local health authorities, and non-governmental organizations.


Although eligibility criteria vary based on the needs of the placement sites, all positions require formal training and experience in public health (e.g., Master's degree) and excellent interpersonal skills. Typical candidates include epidemiologists, nurses, veterinarians, policy analysts and specialists in health promotion and environmental health. Preference will be given to Canadian citizens, although residents of Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad are eligible to apply.

Program description

Public health officers are employees of the Public Health Agency of Canada working in various jurisdictions across the country. In consultation with their placement site supervisors, PHOs develop and implement annual learning plans that include on-the-job training and professional development. PHOs also participate in sessions on surveillance and pandemic preparedness, along with other training delivered by PHAC.

PHOs are integral members of the placement organization's team. They may work on anything from surveillance and epidemiological analysis of disease or disease-related factors to the development of standards and procedures, program evaluation or training.

PHOs must rotate to a new location every two years while in the program, and during national or local emergencies they may be mobilized as part of the federal response.

CPHS student program placements

The CPHS student program provides valuable work experience to students by placing them in public health organizations located outside of larger populated centres.  Students work on public health capacity building projects for approximately 12 - 16 weeks.

A small number of CPHS student placements are available to graduate students who are enrolled in a full-time program of study at the Master's level, in which the completion of a practicum is a requirement of the degree; and who are willing and able to relocate to another geographic location within Canada, generally in northern and remote parts of Canada, for the duration of their placement.

New opportunities are posted at approved universities for both the winter and summer semesters. Check with your university for more information on the application process or deadlines.

You can also email us for more information about CPHS student placements.


Applications for PHO positions must be made through the Public Service Commission of Canada in response to posted positions. The Government of Canada's standard classification system is used to determine the category and level of each position. Most CPHS positions are entry level.

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