Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, everyone, and thank you so much for inviting me to the Standing Committee on Health.
It's truly important for me to be here today to discuss with you the supplementary estimates (A) for the year 2018-19. I always welcome this opportunity to highlight some of the priorities and to discuss our efforts to keep Canadians healthy and safe. As always, I'm grateful to the committee members for your contributions to discussions, and I look forward to answering your questions.
Before I begin, I would also like to thank my officials who are accompanying me today.
They are Mr. Simon Kennedy, deputy minister of health; Dr. Siddika Mithani, president of the Public Health Agency of Canada; Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer and from the Public Health Agency of Canada; Monsieur Michel Perron, vice-president of external affairs and business development at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; and last but not least, Mr. Paul Glover, the president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
They are masters in their fields and I am always happy when they accompany me at committee here. Also, I may turn to them for details with respect to some of the questions.
First, I would like to speak to Health Canada's authorities. Through the supplementary estimates (A), we are asking for an increase of $33.5 million. This would raise Health Canada's total authorities to just under $2.4 billion. This increase in funding would allow us to deliver on key priorities of the Government of Canada. I will describe these for you now, starting with opioids.
As Minister of Health, the first file that I was briefed on as Canada's health minister was the opioid crisis.
Since 2016 this crisis has claimed the lives of over 8,000 Canadians. This is a national tragedy that must be stopped, and it's why our government has taken action to save lives and to turn the tide on this national public health crisis.
So far we have restored harm reduction to the core of our approach and opened more than 25 supervised consumption sites. We have implemented the emergency treatment fund through budget 2018, and we are working to reduce stigma, which is a barrier to health and social services for people who use drugs, through public education.
Nevertheless, the opioid crisis continues to take lives and devastate communities. We must do more, and we will do more. These enhanced efforts include Health Canada's substance use and addictions program, which provides more than $28 million annually to support initiatives that work to prevent, treat and reduce all forms of harm from problematic substance use.
As a part of these estimates, this program has realigned $7.3 million to help address the opioid crisis.
Let's turn now to cannabis.
To support the legalization and regulation of cannabis, Health Canada received an additional $500,000 for operating expenditures from the central advertising fund as a part of these estimates for the cannabis pre-legalization advertising campaign.
This funding is a part of our government's significant investment of $108.5 million over six years to support cannabis public education, awareness and surveillance activities. We know that it's essential to invest in public education efforts surrounding the health and safety facts of cannabis, specifically targeting youth, in advance of the Cannabis Act coming into force.
These campaigns began long before legalization. They're intended to give Canadians, especially youth, the honest facts about cannabis, and to put them in a position to make informed, responsible and healthy choices. While healthy choices are the most important part of maintaining good health, environmental factors also have an impact.
Now let's turn to the new impact assessment and regulatory processes.
As you know, our government is renewing the federal impact assessment and regulatory system. The enhanced system will better protect Canadians' health, as well as our environment, fish and waterways. It will also rebuild public trust in how decisions about resource development are made.
This system will apply to all projects that are subject to federal assessment, such as mines, dams, pipelines and marine terminals.
Health Canada is the key federal department positioned to provide expertise on human health impacts of projects like these.
As such, we are requesting $5 million to help transition to the new impact assessment and regulatory processes.
Let's turn now to pay administration. I would now like to turn to an important administrative issue.
As you know, the Phoenix pay system continues to pose challenges for the public service, including employees of Health Canada and its portfolio organizations. For this reason, we are requesting $1.3 million in additional funds to address the issues in pay administration and to help ensure that our employees are paid properly and on time.
I will now speak in more detail about our portfolio organizations, their priorities and their specific requests for funding.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, is asking for a net increase of $6.7 million to its authorities. This would bring the total authorities for 2018-2019 to $687.2 million.
This increase includes nearly $5.5 million to support the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program.
This program funds indigenous community-based organizations in urban and northern areas to develop programs that promote healthy development of indigenous preschool children.
The increase we are requesting also includes $1 million to support PHAC's childhood vaccination campaign. This advertising campaign will raise awareness of the importance, safety and effectiveness of vaccination.
As a part of the health portfolio, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, also known as CFIA, works to uphold a strong and reliable food-safety system.
The supplementary estimates we are presenting today reflect an increase of $9.4 million for CFIA for specific time-limited activities, bringing its total authorities for 2018-2019 to $762 million.
The specific time-limited activities include funding for the Canadian Food Safety Information Network. This network will strengthen Canada's ability to detect and respond to food hazards by connecting and coordinating food safety and public health authorities.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, is Canada's health research investment agency. It provides $1 million per year to support Canada's health scientists.
Through these supplementary estimates, CIHR is seeking an increase of $0.4 million, for a total of approximately $1.1 billion in available authorities. This increase will support the creation of new scientific knowledge—knowledge that will lead to improved health, more effective health services and products, and a stronger Canadian health care system.
In conclusion, Health Canada, and indeed all five organizations in the health portfolio, is committed to spending funds responsibly, efficiently and effectively. The work I have outlined today will be instrumental in helping us achieve our mandate to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak about our work and to explain our budgetary priorities.
I am now pleased to take your questions.