I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity to provide an update on supplementary estimates (C) as they pertain to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
With me today is James Libbey, chief financial officer, and Dr. Rainer Engelhardt, who is here as it related to the second topic, antimicrobial resistance.
As the current fiscal year comes to a close, the agency actually has no additional funding to request under these estimates.
However, as my colleagues in the health portfolio are proceeding this morning, before I respond to committee questions I would like to provide the context in which this activity is taking place.
Mr. Chair, generally speaking, Canadians are healthier today than they have ever been.
Life expectancy in Canada has increased by more than two years in the last decade alone, and by more than 30 years since the early 20th century. Most Canadians today consider themselves to be in very good or excellent health.
Advances in treatment and medical science, while crucial, are not the only reason, and may be only a small reason, for the improvements we've seen. Canada has a remarkably strong history of action and partnership in health promotion and disease prevention, from the early colonial period to the 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion to the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion by Canada's Ministers of Health and Health Promotion/Healthy Living in 2010.
Since the formation of the agency six years ago, Canada has solidified its place as a global leader in public health.
Each year, at the agency, we are able to build on the sound policy, surveillance and science we generate, and on successful programs that directly help Canadians.
The main reason we need to keep building on this success is that improvements in health aren't shared equally among all Canadians. In many cases, health inequalities between Canadians are growing. Not all health trends are improving, and not all Canadians are benefiting to the same degree. Some groups in Canada experience lower life expectancy, as well as higher rates of infant mortality, injury, disease, and addiction.
The Public Health Agency plays a key role in the effort to narrow these gaps through partnership, advocacy, enabling, and mitigating when needed, but while government efforts are central, public health is, at its heart, local. Health promotion and disease prevention need to reach Canadians at home, in their communities, and at work. We need the partnership that all levels of government, health professionals, the corporate world, and community organizations can provide.
This is the idea behind so much of what we do at the agency, and each year our resources are devoted accordingly. This week, for example, Canada's ministers of health launched Our Health Our Future: A National Dialogue on Healthy Weights.
The dialogue is a key step in identifying actions to curb childhood obesity, a significant health concern in this country, and to promote healthy weights.
It's about engagement and discussion because, as in many public health issues, everyone plays a role. Everyone can commit to action on curbing childhood obesity. As Canada deals with an increasingly less active and more obese and overweight population, tied closely to escalating levels of chronic disease, I expect this will be a continued priority moving into the next fiscal year.
Of the $684.6 million allocated to the agency, over $182 million was dedicated to health promotion. These funds are helping to support activities like the dialogue I just mentioned, updating the physical activity guidelines, and building on our accomplishments through successful community-based programs, including those for vulnerable populations. This year $116 million was devoted to the disease prevention agenda.
These funds continue to enhance Canada's ability to prevent and manage diseases and injuries, and they are helping us continue to gather and analyze data on the traits, trends, and patterns of injuries in Canada. They are helping, for example, to increase awareness of risks such as lung disease and to increase capacity and knowledge on prevention and control of a broad range of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and neurological diseases.
Under these supplementary estimates, the agency will be transferring approximately $1.9 million to other government departments for public health activities that help us reach these goals. For example, $1 million will be transferred to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support the need for enhanced research in population health interventions and the reduction of health inequalities, particularly in the realm of obesity and mental health.
An additional $800,000 will be transferred to CIHR for research on HIV and AIDS co-infections and other co-morbidities, which will help us understand how a spectrum of chronic diseases interact.
We are focusing our efforts where they are needed most.
We continue working to increase public health capacity and enhancing our national and international collaborations. We continue to strengthen surveillance and increase capability in assessing the health of the population.
We remain the government-wide lead on efforts to study and address determinants of health. We continue to work closely with all our partners to ensure that the government's responses to national outbreaks, including food-borne diseases and pandemics, are watertight, efficient, and well coordinated.
Before I close, I would like to highlight one additional area that you've requested in which the agency collaborates closely.
The Government of Canada as a whole has committed significant resources to tracking antibiotic use and resistance. The agency leads national surveillance systems that track antibiotic resistance and antibiotic use in health care, in community settings, and in the food supply.
The agency will also be working with Health Canada, CFIA, and Agriculture on the development of a coordinated approach to AMR, antimicrobial resistance, in Canada. This will include working closely with the health portfolio, provincial and territorial partners, as well as many other stakeholders to help control the spread of AMR in Canada.
Collaboration will always be our watchword. I believe these estimates reflect that priority. I appreciate your time and I am happy to answer any questions.