Celebrating a Milestone


16 June 2017

Last week marked a major milestone for public health in Ontario: the ten year anniversary of the passing of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion Act and the creation of Public Health Ontario.

The Act was the first of its kind in Ontario with the purpose “to enhance the protection and promotion of the health of Ontarians and to contribute to efforts to reduce health inequities through the establishment of an agency to provide scientific and technical advice and support to those working across sectors to protect and improve the health of Ontarians…”1

Renewing public health systems in Ontario

The early 2000s saw a series of major public health events in Ontario including the 2000 E. coli waterborne outbreak in Walkerton and the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. In response to these events, a number of reports were commissioned on the state of public health in Ontario and called for the renewal of local, provincial and national public health systems.

Operation Health Protection

Following these reports, Operation Health Protection was born and outlined a plan for “identifying strategic priorities to enhance capacity in public health for leadership, health emergency preparedness and response, infectious disease prevention and control and health human resources.”2

In January 2005, the Agency Implementation Task Force was established and provided a key recommendation for the need to create an organization in Ontario dedicated to providing scientific and technical advice on health protection and promotion. The final report From Vision to Action: A Plan for the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (March 2006), provided a blueprint for the Agency’s design and implementation.

Realizing a vision: Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion

On June 4, 2007 the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion Act was passed with overwhelming support from all political parties. A few months later, the founding Board of Directors was established and held its first meeting in September 2007.

A year after the Act was passed, PHO officially began operations in July 2008.

We came into operations as Ontario faced some of its most difficult public health challenges. Although operations officially began in 2008, the date of June 4, 2007 and the passing of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion Act will forever be a major milestone in the history of public health in Ontario. 


  1. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion Act, 2007, SO 2007, c 10, Sched. K. Available from: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/07o10 
  2. Goel. V. Building Public Health Ontario: Experience in developing a new public health agency. Can J Public Health [Internet]. 2012 Jun 05 [cited 2017 Jun 6]; 103(4):e267-9. Available from: http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/3289
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Updated 16 June 2017