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ARCHIVED - Public Health Agency of Canada - Supplementary Tables

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Response to Parliamentary Committees and External Audits

Response to Parliamentary Committees

Third Report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food

The link Government Response to the Third Report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food – Subcommittee on Food Safety Beyond The Listeriosis Crisis: Strengthening The Food Safety System was tabled in Parliament on September 14, 2009. The Government Response, which coincided with the announcement of the Government’s Action Plan in Response to the Report of the Independent Investigator into the 2008 Listeriosis Outbreak, focussed on addressing immediate food safety risks; enhanced surveillance and early detection; and improving government response to food-borne illness emergencies.

On March 31, 2010, the Government of Canada posted on its Food Safety Web Portal a progress report titled link Government of Canada - Progress on Food Safety. This report provides details of the progress made by Health Canada (HC), PHAC and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on reducing food safety risks; enhancing surveillance and early detection; and improving emergency response.  PHAC’s reported progress focussed on the two latter areas.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts

In their link May 2009 Report, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts following the Auditor General’s link May 2008 Office of the Auditor General Report on the Surveillance of Infectious Diseases recommended that:

  1. PHAC provide an interim status report to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on its progress in implementing the Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) recommendations by September 30, 2009, and that additional status reports be submitted to the Committee annually until the recommendations are fully implemented;
  2. HC and PHAC provide the PAC by September 30, 2009, with a clear timeline for a legislative review which would determine whether additional statutory authorities are necessary;
  3. PHAC provide the PAC by September 30, 2009, with a proposed timeline for negotiating information sharing agreements with the provinces and territories, and report progress in making these agreements in its annual status report to the Committee;
  4. PHAC provide the PAC with its assessment of core surveillance and response capacity requirements by September 30, 2009, along with a timeline detailing how it intends to meet the World Health Organization Regulations by the mandatory deadline of 2012; and
  5. PHAC include in its Departmental Performance Reports an outline of the challenges and risks it faces as an organization; and that PHAC provide a balanced appraisal of the results it has achieved in improving its surveillance activities.

Agency Response:

In September 2009, the Minister of Health tabled the Government Response to the May 2009 PAC Report on the Implementation of the Auditor General (AG) Recommendations on the Surveillance of Infectious Diseases.  As part of the Government Response to the PAC, PHAC provided a status report on progress in implementing the AG recommendations, and committed to providing annual status reports until the AG recommendations are fully implemented.

In addition, in April 2010, PHAC, through the Minister of Health, provided the PAC with an annual status report on the progress in implementing the AG recommendations. The report, also presented to the OAG in April 2010, is summarized in the next section below.

Response to the Auditor General (including to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development)

A Summary of Chapter 5, of the link May 2008 OAG Report on the Surveillance of Infectious Diseases is presented above, along with its five recommendations.

PHAC has made continued progress in implementing the AG recommendations.

An annual status report was presented to the AG in April 2010. To date, 8 of the 12 recommendations are either fully or substantially implemented. For the remaining four recommendations, plans and timelines are in place to achieve full implementation. The following examples highlight a number of significant developments that took place in 2009-10:

  • Management of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-10 led to important enhancements to PHAC’s internal information and response management systems. For example, it resulted in: improvements to the Agency’s internal response capacity (mobilization of staff); the development and implementation of an Incident Management Structure; the development of comprehensive situational reports; and information and guidance documents for P/Ts and other stakeholders. In the post-pandemic phase, the Agency is drawing on this experience to plan and implement further improvements to internal information and response systems.
  • A Multi-lateral Information Sharing Agreement (MLISA) on infectious diseases is currently under development through a PHAC-supported F/P/T task group. F/P/T officials have reviewed and ratified the direction for the development of this agreement - they have agreed to a multilateral approach (i.e., one agreement for all jurisdictions to sign), the inclusion of biological substances, and a generic main body on infectious disease plus technical schedules dealing with specific infectious diseases and public health events.
  • The F/P/T Public Health Network (PHN) has endorsed the development of an F/P/T Multi-lateral Information Sharing Agreement (MLISA). The MLISA will initially focus on infectious diseases and the information requirements needed to meet PHAC obligations under the International Health Regulations (IHR), including the movement of biological substances. MLISA will be structured as an overall agreement to share information supported by detailed technical schedules that define how information on specific infectious diseases and public health events will be shared.  This approach ensures adaptability of the agreement as new outbreaks and events arise. The first schedules for MLISA are currently under development within PHAC in collaboration with a Public Health Network task group dedicated to this project.

PHAC is committed to the ongoing implementation of the AG recommendations. The development of a comprehensive public health surveillance system, including the surveillance of infectious disease, is considered a high priority. PHAC will continue to build such a system in collaboration with our partners in a way that promotes and protects the health of Canadians.

External Audits (Note: These refer to other external audits conducted by the Public Service Commission of Canada or the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages)

No external audits were issued during 2009-10.