Health Canada

Health Canada (HC; French: Santé Canada, SC) is the department of the Government of Canada that is responsible for the country's federal health policy, overseen by the Minister of Health (currently Patty Hajdu) as part of their Health Portfolio.[3]

Health Canada
Santé Canada
Health Canada logo.gif
Department overview
TypeDepartment responsible for federal health policy in Canada
Employees10,794 (March 2019)[1]
Annual budget$2.4 billion (2018–19)[2]
Minister responsible
Department executive
  • Dr. Stephen Lucas, Deputy Minister

Originally created as the "Department of Health" in 1919—in the wake of the Spanish flu crisis[4]—what is known as Health Canada today was formed in 1993 from the former Health and Welfare Canada department (established in 1944), which split into two separate units; the other department being Human Resources and Labour Canada.[5]

The department itself is also responsible for numerous federal health-related agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), among others. These organizations help to ensure compliance with federal law in a variety of healthcare, agricultural, and pharmaceutical activities. This responsibility also involves extensive collaboration with various other federal- and provincial-level organizations in order to ensure the safety of food, health, and pharmaceutical products—including the regulation of health research and pharmaceutical manufacturing/testing facilities.


Health Canada's leadership consists of:[6]


The following branches, offices, and bureaus (and their respective services) fall under the jurisdiction of Health Canada:[6]

  • Health Canada
    • Office of Audit and Evaluation
      • Departmental Audit Committee
      • Director General / Chief Audit Executive's Office
      • Internal Audit and Special Examinations
      • Program Evaluation Division
      • Performance Measurement Planning and Integration
      • Practice Management
    • Chief Financial Officer Branch
      • Departmental Performance Measurement and Evaluation Directorate
      • Departmental Resource Management Directorate
      • Financial Operations Directorate
      • Internal Control Division
      • Materiel and Assets Management Directorate
      • Planning and Corporate Management Practices Directorate
    • Communications and Public Affairs Branch
      • Ethics and Internal Ombudsman Services
      • Marketing and Communications Services Directorate
      • Planning and Operations Division
      • Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Directorate
      • Stakeholder Relations and Consultation Directorate
    • Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch
    • Legal Services
    • Opioid Response Team
      • Controlled Substances Directorate
      • Opioid Response Team Directorate

Partner agenciesEdit

In their responsible of maintaining and improving the health of Canadians, the Minister of Health is supported by the Health Portfolio, which comprises Health Canada as well as:

International collaborationEdit

In December 2016, Health Canada approved the purchase of a new botulism antitoxin called heptavalent botulism antitoxin (BAT) from the American-based company Emergent Biosolutions, a global specialty biopharmaceutical company. The PHAC has identified botulism as a likely biological terrorist threat.[7]

Labs and officesEdit


  • Office of the Cameron Visiting Chair
  • Office of the Chief Dental Officer
  • The National Office of WHMIS
  • Nurse Recruitment
  • Public Services Health Medical Centre


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

Compliance and Enforcement DirectorateEdit

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:[8]

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

Related legislationEdit

Acts for which Health Canada has total or partial responsibility:[9]

Acts which Health Canada is involved or has special interest in:


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 alsoEdit

International counterpartsEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Health Portfolio." Government of Canada (2017). Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  4. ^ Canadian War Museum (2017) [2008]. "Influenza, 1918-1919 | Canada and the First World War". Canadian War Museum. Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  5. ^ Cheung-gertler, Jasmin H. (2014) [2008]. "Health Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Health Canada's organizational structure". Health Canada. Government of Canada. 15 April 2020. Archived from the original on 2010-10-16. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  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
  12. ^[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit