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Sustainable Development Strategy

Health Canada's Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) IV 2007-2010 entitled "A Path to Sustainability" is a three year strategic plan containing commitments to integrate sustainable development principles and practices into our policies, programs and operations - recognizing the complex interrelationships between health, the environment, the economy and a range of social elements.

The current Strategy is Health Canada's fourth Sustainable Development Strategy since 1995. Building on the success of the previous strategies, our fourth strategy continues with the same three themes, each representing an important component of sustainable development.

Helping to Create Healthy Social and Physical Environments:

Is supported by thirty seven targets relating to clean air, clean water, sustainable communities, protection of the environment and human health and food safety.

Minimizing the Environmental and Health Effects of the Department's Physical Operations and Activities:

Is supported by eleven targets relating to greening our operations including fleet management, building energy, procurement, training, business travel and environmental stewardship.

Integrating sustainable development into departmental decision-making and management processes and advancing the social pillar of sustainability:

Is supported by three targets relating to the integration of SD principles into decision making.

Health Canada's current SDS contains 51 measurable targets under these three long-term themes. The targets contribute to the department's strategic outcomes such as access to safe and effective health products and information, reduced health and environmental risks, safer living and working environments and better health outcomes for First Nations and Inuit and other Canadians. Specific targets address priorities such as clean air, clean water, sustainable communities, protection of the environment and human health, food safety, procurement, training and awareness, environmental stewardship and integrating sustainable development into departmental decision-making and management processes. Performance measures at the strategic outcome level are clearly laid out in the Strategy.

Our current Strategy reflects Health Canada's commitment to a coordinated federal approach for the fourth round of departmental SDS, a government-wide initiative, led by Environment Canada, to strengthen coherence and accountability across departmental sustainable development strategies. This collaborative effort resulted in a set of common federal sustainable development goals and an associated reporting format that will enable government-wide reporting on key federal sustainable development issues for the first time since the establishment of the SDS process.

The six federal long-term sustainability goals include: clean and secure water for people, marine and freshwater ecosystems; clean air for people to breathe and ecosystems to function well; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; communities enjoy a prosperous economy, a vibrant and equitable society, and a healthy environment for current and future generations; sustainable development and use of natural resources; and strengthen federal governance and decision-making to support sustainable development.

Health Canada's current SDS was designed to align to the largest extend possible to the above six federal goals, while also reflecting the nature of the mandate for the department. 

Health Canada's first Annual Progress report on the 2007-2010 SDS indicated that at the end of fiscal year 2007-08, of the total 51 target, 84% were either completed or on schedule.  Initial assessment for the year 2008-09 indicates that the rest of the targets are on schedule.  For the fiscal year April 1, 2009 - March 31, 2010, the department will work towards fulfilling its commitments to all 51 targets as laid out in the current Strategy, thus completing the last year of the three-year Strategy.   Priorities for 2009-2010 include:

  • Continue to develop tools and information materials to better prepare Canadians and health professionals to deal with potential health impacts associated with a changing climate
  • Continue to develop water management plans to reduce risks to health on passenger conveyance
  • Continue to reduce the prevalence of Canadians exposed daily to second-hand smoke from 28% to 20% by 2011
  • Finalize a regulatory framework for the Environmental Assessment regulations for new substances contained in products regulated under the Food & Drugs Act
  • Continue to deliver training sessions for industry crop developers on how to prepare novel food applications

For addition information on targets found in Health Canada's Sustainable Development Strategy 2007-2010: A Path to Sustainability, please contact the Office of Sustainable Development at