Health Canada

Health Canada (French: Santé Canada) is the department of the government of Canada that is responsible for national public health. The current Minister of Health is Patty Hajdu, a Liberal Member of Parliament appointed to the position by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Originally created in 1919 in the wake of the Spanish flu crisis as the Department of Health, "Health Canada" was formed in 1993 when the former Department of Health and Welfare Canada (as established in 1944) split into two separate departments: Health Canada and Human Resources and Labour Canada.[2][3]

Health Canada
Santé Canada
Department overview
TypeDepartment responsible for national public health
Minister responsible

The department is also responsible for numerous federal health-related agencies, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada, among others. These organizations help to ensure compliance with federal law in a variety of healthcare, agricultural and pharmaceutical activities. They also collaborate and partner extensively with numerous other federal and provincial departments and agencies in order to ensure the safety of food, health products, and pharmaceutical drugs, as well as regulate facilities involved in health research and pharmaceutical drug manufacturing and testing.

Branches, regions and agencies

Health Canada has the following branches, regions and agencies:[4]

Ministers and officers


  • Audit & Accountability Bureau
  • Chief Financial Officer Branch
  • Communications and Public Affairs Branch
  • Corporate Services Branch
  • Departmental Secretariat
  • Healthy Environments & Consumer Safety Branch
  • Health Products & Food Branch
  • Legal Services
  • Regulatory Operations and Enforcement Branch
  • Strategic Policy




  • Laboratory Centre for Disease Control
  • Sir Frederick G Banting Research Centre

Compliance and Enforcement Directorate

The Compliance and Enforcement Directorate provides support to Health Canada by enforcing the laws and regulations pertaining to the production, distribution, importation, sale, and/or use of consumer products (including but not limited to: tobacco, pest control materials, drugs and medical devices, biologics, and natural health products.)

The Directorate conducts inspections and investigations to ensure that products are safe, of good quality, and properly labelled and distributed, in order to better protect Canadians from potentially harmful products and consumables.

Compliance and Enforcement Directorate is divided into six distinct programs:

  • Canada Vigilance Program
  • Controlled Substances Program
  • Inspectorate Program
  • Pesticide Control Program
  • Product Safety Program
  • Tobacco Control Program


International collaboration

In December 2016, Health Canada approved the purchase of a new botulism antitoxin called Botulism Antitoxin Heptavalent (BAT) from the American-based company Emergent Biosolutions, a global specialty biopharmaceutical company. The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified botulism as a likely biological terrorist threat.[8]

Acts for which Health Canada has Total or Partial Responsibility[9]

Acts for which Health Canada is Involved or has a Special Interest


An editorial published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal has called for Health Canada to more strictly regulate natural health products. The editorial cited weaknesses in current legislation that allow natural health products to make baseless health claims, to neglect side-effects research prior to products reaching market, and to be sold without being evaluated by Health Canada.[10]

On 10 September 2012, a report on CBC television questioned the safety of drugs sold in North America.[11] The Brandon Sun reported that Health Canada is secretive about inspections about drugs manufactured overseas, leaving the public unsure about the safety of these drugs.[12]

See also


  1. Archived 2009-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Health Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  3. "Wartime Tragedies - Influenza, 1918-1919". Canada and the First World War. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  4. Canada, Health. "Branches and Agencies -". Archived from the original on 2010-10-16.
  5. Canada, Health. "Deputy Minister of Health Canada - Simon Kennedy -". Archived from the original on 2010-02-18.
  6. Canada, Health. "Associate Deputy Minister of Health Canada - Christine Donoghue -". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31.
  7. Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Emergent BioSolutions Receives Health Canada Approval for Botulism Antitoxin". Yahoo Finance. 2016-12-12. Archived from the original on 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2007-04-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Gauntlet Editorial Board. "Editorial: Mis-informed consent". Editorial. The Gauntlet. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-29. Retrieved 2012-09-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Americamp=rss
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