Canada said Tuesday it would spend C$665 million ($500 million) over the next two years to fight the spread of infectious diseases such as SARS, which killed more than 40 people in Toronto last year.
Canada said Tuesday it would spend C$665 million ($500 million) over the next two years to fight the spread of infectious diseases such as SARS, which killed more than 40 people in Toronto last year. Ottawa came under fire for its handling the SARS outbreak, with critics saying the federal government did not have a proper crisis management plan and did a poor job of coordinating with the provincial government in Ontario. “Recent public health emergencies have made it clear that changes are required to Canada’s public health system to address future infectious disease outbreaks,” the government said in a statement issued with the federal budget. Ottawa said it would appoint a chief public health officer who would help create a C$165 million Canada Public Health Agency in close coordination with the provinces. Ottawa said the federal health ministry would reallocate C$400 million in existing resources to help fund the agency. “(The agency), reporting to the (federal) minister of health, will focus on the management of infectious diseases, emergency preparedness and response, and chronic diseases,” the statement said. It said the agency would boost Canada’s emergency response capacity, expand laboratory capacity and strengthen international coordination. A further C$400 million will be given to the provinces to to support a national immunization strategy while C$100 million will be spent on a new public health surveillance system to help identify infectious disease outbreaks. “The funding announced in this budget address immediate gaps in Canada’s public health system…the government of Canada expects to make further investments once the new Canada Public Health Agency is set up,” the statement said, but gave no details. (Source: Reuters Health, Forbes News, March 2004)