Report 8—Pandemic Preparedness, Surveillance, and Border Control Measures

At a GlanceReport 8—Pandemic Preparedness, Surveillance, and Border Control Measures

  Why we did this audit

  • A well‑planned and informed public health response is crucial to limiting the spread and public health impact of an infectious disease during a pandemic.
  • Timely and comprehensive surveillance information is needed to direct public health efforts.

  Our findings

  • Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) had prepared plans and national guidance to support a response to a pandemic but had not completed a planned testing exercise or updated all of the plans and guidance.
  • Long-standing shortcomings in health surveillance information impeded the effective exchange of health data between the agency and provinces/territories.
  • Global Public Health Intelligence Network alerts and agency risk assessments are key to early warning.
  • Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) acted quickly to enforce emergency orders prohibiting the entry of foreign nationals to Canada.
  • PHAC did not always meet the targets it set to verify whether travellers subject to the mandatory 14‑day quarantine upon entering Canada were following the quarantine orders.

  Key facts and figures

  • Canada’s first case of COVID‑19 was confirmed on 27 January 2020
  • In Canada, public health is a shared responsibility between the federal government, the 10 provinces, and the 3 territories.

  Our recommendations

  • The Public Health Agency of Canada should finalize the improvements to its information technology infrastructure to facilitate the collection of timely, accurate, and complete surveillance information from provinces and territories, both during and after the COVID‑19 pandemic. The agency should establish timelines for the completion of these improvements.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada should strengthen its process to promote credible and timely risk assessments to guide public health responses to limit the spread of infectious diseases that can cause a pandemic, as set out in its pandemic response plans and guidance.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada should improve its systems and processes for administering the nationwide mandatory quarantine during the COVID‑19 pandemic, including the collection of contact information and follow‑up to verify compliance.

See full list of recommendations and responses

Related information

Completion date 4 February 2021
Tabling date 25 March 2021
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