Surveillance—tracking health events and determinants through the collection, analysis and reporting of data—is the backbone of a strong public health system. Surveillance makes it possible to:

  • identify and forecast threats to public health, such as disease outbreaks;
  • respond quickly to threats by deploying resources effectively;
  • create practical, evidence-based policies and programs; and
  • meet Canada's international public health obligations.

Shared responsibility

In Canada, responsibility for surveillance is shared by regional health authorities, provinces and territories and federal agencies. PHAC conducts activities related to the surveillance of specific diseases and threats to public health, from setting up sentinel systems to analyzing and reporting on data on emerging trends and relevant issues.

Working together to build an effective national surveillance framework

PHAC also works with provinces and territories to improve the way we share surveillance information across jurisdictions in Canada. This role is crucial, given that surveillance systems, practices, standards, policies and legislation vary significantly from one region of Canada to another.

PHAC's goal is to establish and implement an effective national framework for public health surveillance; one that is based on common principles and standards and that allows us to collect, analyze and share relevant information across jurisdictions efficiently and appropriately. To achieve this goal, PHAC works with provincial and territorial partners to get a clear understanding of the issues, to develop common tools, such as the Integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) and Panorama, and to advance national surveillance initiatives.

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