Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for inviting me today to present the health portfolio financial overview of supplementary estimates (B) for the period 2017-18.
I am thrilled to be accompanied today by my deputy minister, Simon Kennedy; Dr. Theresa Tam, our chief public health officer; Carolina Giliberti, executive vice-president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; Yves Bacon, CFO and vice-president of the corporate management branch of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; and Michel Perron, executive vice-president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the resources that we are requesting to maintain and improve the health needs of all Canadians.
The health portfolio continues to deliver on several priority initiatives for our government. In these supplementary estimates (B), the health portfolio's budget will increase by just over $297 million, raising its proposed authorities to date to $7.16 billion. This constitutes an increase of approximately 6% over our authorities to date.
This funding will allow the health portfolio to achieve several key objectives in several priority areas, which I will now briefly address.
Our government recognizes that Canadians expect the health care system to adapt to their changing needs. They also expect federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together to strengthen our health care system.
In August, the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories agreed to a common statement of principles on shared health priorities. This common statement of principles outlines the priorities for federal investments in mental health and addictions as well as home, palliative and community care. It commits governments to work with the Canadian Institute for Health Information on a set of common indicators to measure progress in these areas. And it reaffirms a shared federal, provincial and territorial commitment to improve the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs.
Every province and territory has also agreed to its share of $11 billion over 10 years in federal funding for home care and mental health. They have also agreed to the broader funding arrangements under the Canada Health Transfer, which will provide more than $200 million in federal health funding over the next five years.
Health Canada is now in negotiations with each province and territory to develop multi-year bilateral agreements that will outline the terms and conditions for the remaining funding over 10 years.
The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous people. Part of that commitment involves ensuring that first nations and Inuit have access to culturally appropriate health programs and services.
In December, the Government of Canada announced the formal creation of the new Department of Indigenous Services Canada. This is truly an important step in the government's transformation of services to indigenous peoples. By consolidating services into one department, we will be improving the sharing of information and strengthening our capacity to meet the needs of the people we serve.
Therefore, significant funding associated with indigenous programming included in these supplementary estimates will now fall under the purview of Minister Philpott.
I truly remain committed to supporting our government's important goal of improving indigenous health. Throughout this transition period, I will support my colleagues, Minister Bennett and Minister Philpott, to help ensure that first nations and Inuit continue to have access to high-quality health services and programs. I will also work to ensure that we maintain effective relations with our indigenous partners.
Another key file under the health portfolio is the legalization and regulation of cannabis. We know that the current approach to cannabis does not work. It has allowed organized crime to profit while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of our young people. This is why our government introduced Bill C-45 to legalize and strictly regulate access to cannabis.
In these supplementary estimates, we are requesting $39.1 million to develop, implement and administer a federal framework to legalize and regulate cannabis. This will include the licensing and oversight of producers of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.
Another health priority that we are addressing is the opioid crisis. We continue to use all the tools at our disposal to address the growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids. As you know, there were more than 2,800 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada in 2016, and the preliminary data for 2017 suggests that the number of opioid-related deaths will exceed 3,000. These estimates include an increase of $6.2 million to address the crisis. This includes funds to support increased access to harm reduction measures and to prevent infectious diseases that may result from sharing drug-use equipment.
This is a complex health and social issue, and it will not be fixed overnight. This is why our government will continue to work with partners from across the country to take action on this public health crisis.
With respect to the impact of climate change on the health of Canadians, I am pleased that Budget 2017 allocated $471 million over five years to Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to address the health risks associated with a changing climate.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recently accepted proposals for the Infectious Diseases and Climate Change Fund. These proposals will address gaps in knowledge related to climate-driven food-borne, water-borne and zoonotic infectious diseases in Canada. This includes preparing for and protecting Canadians from climate-driven infectious diseases, including Lyme disease and the West Nile virus.
Our government is also committed to promoting and improving public health and increasing vaccination rates across the country. Vaccination remains one of the most effective public health tools to protect Canadians, which is why we are allocating $1 million in funding towards an advertising and public education campaign to help Canadians make informed decisions on vaccinations.
Vaccines are effective and safe, and they play an important role in the protection of our health and of our communities. I am pleased that the government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, has endorsed new vaccination coverage goals and targets for reducing vaccine-preventable diseases by 2025.
These supplementary estimates reflect an increase of $7 million in the budget of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which will support the CFIA's important ongoing work in plant protection, animal health and food safety.
Safer food remains a top priority for the CFIA. While Canada already has one of the safest food safety systems in the world, our government is dedicated to improving that system so that Canadian families continue to have confidence in the food they eat.
The CFIA has increased its focus on prevention, preparedness and response to minimize risks to human, animal and ecosystem health. This includes plant protection and animal health, the first links in the food chain.
In conclusion, I am confident that the amounts noted in these estimates and the funds identified in Budget 2017 will allow the health portfolio to continue to support better health outcomes for all Canadians and to build a healthier country.
Thank you again to the committee for inviting us to join you today. I look forward to answering your questions.