Lab Canada

Feds name first chief public health officer to head Public Health Agency of Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba – September 24, 2004 – Prime Minister Paul Martin today launched the new Public Health Agency of Canada and announced the appointment of the country’s first-ever chief public health officer (CPHO).

Dr David Butler-Jones, based in Winnipeg, will head the agency.

“Today’s announcement is another step in ensuring we have the best possible system for ensuring the health and safety of Canadians," said Prime Minister Martin. "Canada’s chief public health officer must demonstrate clear leadership, not only in times of emergency, but also in helping Canadians stay healthy and out of the hospital.”

Dr Butler-Jones brings to the position an extensive background in public health. He has most recently served as the medical health officer for Sun Country Health Region and consulting medical officer for the Saskatoon Health Region in Saskatchewan. From 1995 to 2002, he was the chief medical officer of health for the province of Saskatchewan.

Dr Butler-Jones was a member of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health chaired by Dr David Naylor. The creation of the agency and this appointment of a chief public health officer were key recommendations found in the committee’s report, Learning from SARS: Renewal of Public Health in Canada.

Focussed on more effective efforts to prevent chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease, prevent injuries and respond to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks, the Public Health Agency of Canada will work closely with the provinces and territories to keep Canadians healthy and help reduce pressures on the health care system.

The agency will have offices, management, staff and expertise all across Canada and will work with a network of specialized centres across the country to address specific public health issues in Canada. Winnipeg, the location of Canada’s only Level 4 microbiology lab for human health, will become the home of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID) and it is expected to be a world leader in research, training, commercialization and innovation in addressing the threat and impacts of infectious diseases.