Raison d’Être, Mandate, and Role, and Operating Context

2021-22 Raison d’Être

The Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (PS), also known as Public Safety Canada, plays a key role in discharging the Government's fundamental responsibility for the safety and security of its citizens. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is responsible for the Department.

Legislation governing the Department sets out three essential roles:

The Department provides strategic policy advice and support to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on a range of issues concerning our three Core Responsibilities: National Security, Community Safety and Emergency Management. The Department also delivers a number of grant and contribution programs related to these issues.

Mandate and role

Public Safety Canada works with the following five agencies and three review bodies, united in a single portfolio and all reporting to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Public Safety Portfolio

Partner Agencies

Review Bodies

The Department’s mandate is to keep Canada safe from a range of risks such as natural disasters, crime and terrorism. As such, Public Safety Canada collaborates with federal partners as well as other levels of government, non-government organizations, community groups, the private sector, foreign states, academia, communities and first responders on issues related to national and border security, crime prevention, community safety and emergency management. This cooperation supports a cohesive and integrated approach to Canada’s safety and security.

The Department will also work towards fulfilling the commitments outlined in the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness’ mandate letter as well as the supplementary mandate letter.

Operating Context

The world has changed extraordinarily over the past year. The global pandemic has compromised the safety of all, and forced countries, economies, and businesses to rethink the way they work in, plan for, and respond to this unprecedented challenge. This has affected all Canadians and placed a great burden on essential and front-line workers. Meanwhile, threats continue to evolve and emerge, facilitated by the rapid shift to digital solutions. Natural disasters too are increasing in their frequency and intensity and becoming more unpredictable. All of these factors will impact Public Safety Canada’s operations and programs in 2021-22. 

The challenges Canadians have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to persist well into 2021-22. In this context, Public Safety will continue to ensure that Canadians remain safe, secure, and healthy, and that Canada’s national security, community safety and emergency management capabilities are both strengthened and supported. The Department will do this while adapting operational and strategic resources as needed to deliver services and results for Canadians.

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new set of challenges to the threat landscape, including by increasing the risk of malicious cyber activity and economic threats, as well as affecting the safety and security of frontline workers, first responders, and vulnerable populations. Public Safety recognizes the importance of ensuring the security and resilience of these groups, and of protecting Canada’s cybersecurity landscape, critical infrastructure and economic integrity. The 2021-22 Departmental Plan elaborates on Public Safety’s plans to protect these groups and sectors.

In 2021-22, Public Safety will continue to address priority areas in the community safety realm, including by fulfilling the Government of Canada’s commitments to address gun-violence, gangs and firearms. As well, the Department will implement the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and support a wide variety of initiatives designed to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. Additional priorities include providing support to places of worship, communities and groups which are most at-risk of experiencing hate-motivated crimes; and, further supporting Indigenous communities in the implementation of culturally-sensitive crime prevention practices and in the reduction of criminal behaviours among at-risk youth and high-risk offenders.

 Terrorism and violent extremism, including ideologically motivated violent extremism, continue to pose a serious threat to Canada’s national security. Dynamic and evolving threats in the cybersecurity realm have also increased in recent months, including as a result of Canadians spending more time online due to the pandemic. As more of the economy and essential services move online, governments, businesses, organizations and Canadians remain vulnerable. Furthermore, as more of Canada’s critical infrastructure can be controlled remotely and essential services are managed online, cyber incidents have the potential to compromise national security and public safety. The current threat landscape requires a renewed focus on efforts to counter radicalization to violence, in addition to the strengthening of Canada’s cybersecurity apparatus, vital assets and critical infrastructure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the importance of Canada’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities. In 2021-22, Public Safety will continue to advance the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada, including by implementing the Emergency Management Action Plan, which was developed in partnership with provinces and territories. Public Safety will also continue to focus on priority areas, including by preparing for, anticipating and mitigating the risks associated with natural disasters; addressing flood risk through the creation of a new Task Force on Flood Insurance and Relocation; supporting the advancement of a Public Safety Broadband Network and the National Public Alerting System; and advancing Canada’s first-ever National Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries for public safety personnel.

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