Health in Canada

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

Minister of Health

Every day, Canadians rely on our health care system to provide high quality care based on need, rather than the ability to pay.
As Minister of Health, I am committed to maintaining the basic tenets of universal, publicly funded health care.

Health Canada is the federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstances. As a regulator, Health Canada is responsible for governing the safety of products including food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, natural health products, consumer products, chemicals, radiation emitting devices, cosmetics and pesticides. We also regulate tobacco products and controlled substances, public health on aircraft, ships and other passenger conveyances, and help manage the health risks posed by environmental factors such as air, water, radiation and contaminants.

The department is also a service provider. The federal government has provided basic health services to First Nations since 1904. Today, Health Canada provides basic primary care services in approximately 200 remote First Nations communities, home and community care in 600 First Nations communities, support for health promotion programs in Inuit communities across four regions and a limited range of medically-necessary health-related goods and services not insured by private or other public health insurance plans to eligible First Nations and Inuit.
We also fund or deliver community-based health programs and public health activities to First Nations and Inuit. These activities promote health, prevent chronic disease and address issues such as substance abuse and the spread of infectious diseases.

Health Canada is a catalyst for innovation, a funder, and an information provider in Canada’s health system. It works closely with provincial and territorial governments to develop national approaches on health system issues and promotes the panCanadian adoption of best practices. It administers the Canada Health Act, which embodies national principles to ensure a universal and equitable publicly-funded health care system. It provides policy support for the federal government’s Canada Health Transfer to provinces and territories, and provides funding through grants and contributions to various organisations to help meet Health Canada’s objectives.
The department draws on leading-edge science and policy research to generate and share knowledge and information to support decision-making by Canadians, development and implementation of regulations and standards, and health innovation.

Our system serves Canadians well, but it needs to adapt to the challenges of an ageing society, rapid technological change, and fiscal realities. Through the Public Health Agency of Canada, we are committed to improving the health of Canadians and reducing the burden of disease. We work with our federal, provincial, territorial and nongovernmental health partners on knowledge generation and analysis. This is supported by research, surveillance and reaching out to the public health community and the Canadian public with appropriate disease risk identification, assessment, communication and education. Individuals can make healthier choices in their everyday lives to reduce their risks, but we all have a role to play – all levels of government, communities, researchers, the non-profit sector and the private sector need to do their part in promoting health and preventing diseases.

As Minister of Health, I believe that prevention and health promotion can improve quality of life in the long term and help keep health care costs down. The Department is committed to meeting the challenges of tomorrow by supporting research and fostering partnerships with researchers around the world.
We work collaboratively with the provinces and territories to test ways in which the Canadian health care system can be improved and to ensure its sustainability for the future.