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Health Canada

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Section 4: Other Items of Interest

Health Canada's Regional Operations - An Overview

Over one third of Health Canada's employees work in communities outside of the National Capital Region. Programs and services are delivered to Canada's diverse population by Health Canada's regional offices in the British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic and Northern Regions.

In 2006, Health Canada created the Public Affairs, Consultation and Regions Branch to improve the integration of national and regional perspectives into its work, including policy and consultation activities. Over the next three years, Health Canada's regions will continue to advance the work that is underway to realize the benefits of this new operating environment:

  • The regions will strengthen and expand their collaboration with Health Canada's Program Branches. Regions and programs will work in tandem to deliver the Department's programs and services in a manner that is responsive to local issues and priorities, while respecting national program integrity and accountability.
  • In addition, the regions will continue to capitalize on their proximity to clients and stakeholders to develop further their relationships and their capacity for intelligence gathering and analysis. At the same time they will foster stronger relationships with policy and program branches in the Department. This will enhance the regions' ability to inform and influence policy design and development, supporting the relevance and effectiveness of Health Canada's work across the country.
  • The close ties between regional offices and their counterparts in other federal departments provide frequent opportunities for collaboration. The regional offices will strengthen their relationships with federal counterparts in the regions by participating on Federal Councils and by forming partnerships to deliver region-specific projects. This interdepartmental work will enable Health Canada to support the federal government agenda broadly, and to reflect regional views in the development of government-wide policies and directions.
  • Finally, Health Canada's regions will continue to build and maintain effective relationships with provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as key stakeholders. These relationships support collaboration and joint initiatives. They also improve the Department's understanding of challenges and opportunities which cross program boundaries as provincial and territorial approaches to managing the health care agenda evolve. For example, ensuring coordinated preparedness by Health Canada and its partners and clients to respond to an emergency or pandemic will be a focus in the regions over the coming years.

The following are examples of specific ways the regions will continue to help Health Canada deliver on its Strategic Outcomes.

Strengthened knowledge base to address health and health care priorities:

  • Manage intergovernmental affairs;
  • Conduct disease surveillance and provide intelligence on local health policy and health systems issues to support departmental policy and program development; and
  • Foster communication, consultation and stakeholder engagement within the regions.

Access to safe and effective health products and food and information for healthy choices:

  • Conduct surveillance, enforcement and compliance activities for health-related products;
  • Provide regional contributions to national policies, programs, and regulations related to health products and food; and
  • Engage in consultations to build stakeholder relations and provide information for making healthy choices.

Reduced health and environmental risks from products and substances, and safer living and working environments:

  • Conduct inspection and surveillance activities as well as health promotion activities related to consumer products, tobacco, controlled drugs and substances, and the environment;
  • Establish marketplace and user inspection programs, and compliance and promotional activities for pesticides; and
  • Conduct risk assessments and evaluations and provide health advice to federal employees, provinces and municipalities related to chemical contaminants and exposure levels, drinking water standards, and work environments.

Better health outcomes and reduction of health inequalities between First Nations and Inuit and other Canadians:

  • Provide Non-Insured Health Benefits to First Nations and Inuit clients;
  • Deliver community-based health promotion and disease prevention programs for First Nations and Inuit populations;
  • Deliver Home and Community Care Program and addictions treatment services for First Nations and Inuit populations;
  • Provide management capacity support and capital investments in First Nations and Inuit communities; and
  • Collaborate in emergency preparedness and response as well as pandemic planning.

Corporate Management - Leadership and Infrastructure to support the Department's Regional Operations:

  • Ensure sound stewardship of both the human and financial resources of the Department through effective and accountable management and administration of assets, human resources, and information technology, by providing risk management and business continuity services, and by applying rigorous planning, reporting and performance measurement processes.

Advancing the Science Agenda

Bringing leadership, coherence and expertise to the overall strategic direction of Health Canada's scientific responsibilities and activities and providing strategic advice to the Deputy Minister and Minister on health science issues are key roles for Health Canada's Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). The management and governance of science and research, both internal to Health Canada and externally, requires a comprehensive and systematic approach. Productive collaborative efforts are critical to improving knowledge-based approaches to domestic and global health issues. Fostering science partnerships and linkages within the Department and with external partners/stakeholders promotes awareness and understanding of our science and its contribution to the health and safety of Canadians.

OCS champions science within Health Canada by ensuring the effective use of science in policy making, enhancing science capacity and promoting excellence, and building linkages across the Department and with partners across the science policy and research communities. These activities help to enhance the health and safety of Canadians by ensuring that sound science is applied to decision-making, that accurate information is available to support informed choices by the public, and that Health Canada is positioned to work in partnership with other departments and other health research stakeholders to address national health research priorities.

A critical component of the effective use of sound science in policy making and regulatory decision-making is the external advice provided to the Department by the Science Advisory Board, an independent group of experts that provides the Minister with advice on departmental science priorities and directions. Equally important is the work of the Research Ethics Board, also an independent body of experts that ensures that departmental research involving humans meets the highest ethical standards. OCS provides secretariats to these bodies.

Key to the Department's role in meeting broader governmental and federal science and technology (S&T) objectives/commitments is OCS' coordination and participation in interdepartmental S&T activities and horizontal science management issues.

Ongoing roles for the OCS include providing advice on and support to the management of intellectual property generated through departmental science activities, promoting and communicating Health Canada's science and research, and organizing the Health Canada Science Forum, which raises awareness of departmental science activities internally and with stakeholders. To further build Health Canada's research capacity, OCS also administers a Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and a Visiting Fellowship Program, bringing new people and new ideas into the Department and raising awareness and understanding of the important role played by science in regulation.