Public Health Agency of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Share this page

Background

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is the main Government of Canada agency responsible for public health in Canada. The Agency’s primary goal is to strengthen Canada’s capacity to protect and improve the health of Canadians and to help reduce pressures on the health-care system. To do this, the Agency is working to build an effective public health system that enables Canadians to achieve better health and well-being in their daily lives by promoting good health, helping prevent and control chronic diseases and injury, and protecting Canadians from infectious diseases and other threats to their health.The Agency is also committed to reducing health disparities between the most advantaged and disadvantaged Canadians.

Because public health is a shared responsibility, the Agency works in close collaboration with all levels of government (provincial, territorial and municipal) to build on each others’ skills and strengths. The Agency also works closely with non-government organizations, including civil society and business, and other countries and international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) to share knowledge, expertise and experiences.

The Agency was established in September 2004, in part as a response to the SARS outbreak in 2003, and was confirmed as a legal entity in December 2006 by the Public Health Agency of Canada Act External link.

To address concerns about human pathogens and toxins, Parliament passed the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (HPTA) in 2009. The Agency is charged with enforcing the Act and developing a program and regulatory framework.

The Agency is one of six departments and agencies that make up the federal government’s Health Portfolio and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Health. The Agency is managed by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, currently Dr. David Butler-Jones, who plays a dual role:

  • Deputy Minister in the federal public service, heading the Agency and advising the Minister of Health on matters of public health and the function of the Agency; and
  • Lead federal public health professional tasked with communicating directly with Canadians and governments on important public health matters.

For information on the Agency’s structure, please view the organizational chart.