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

2023-24 Raison d’être

The Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (PS) 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 the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness are responsible for the Department.

Legislation governing the Department sets out three essential roles:

The Department provides strategic policy advice and support to the Ministers on issues concerning its three Core Responsibilities: National Security, Community Safety and Emergency Management, and delivers a number of grant and contribution programs.

Mandate and role

The Department’s mandate is to keep Canada safe from a range of risks such as natural disasters, crime and terrorism. As such, PS 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’s mandate letter and the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness’ mandate letter.

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 President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness.

Public Safety Portfolio

Partner Agencies

Review Bodies

Operating context

The global landscape of safety and security continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Recovering from the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new set of challenges and opportunities in building a safe and resilient Canada. Looking forward to 2023-24, it is clear that the effects of the pandemic, recovery efforts, and a wide array of new and ongoing global social, economic, and security events will persist. In this context, Public Safety Canada is committed to demonstrating leadership in national security, community safety, and emergency management to achieve more resilient communities in support of a safe and secure Canada.

The Department recognizes that safe and effective travel is critical to our pandemic recovery. In this vein, Public Safety Canada will work with partners towards supporting travel and transportation industry recovery, while ensuring the safety and security of Canadians and of Canada’s borders. The Department will continue to work collaboratively with the United States and domestic partners on the expansion and governance of Preclearance operations.

The advancement and use of technology has enhanced communities across the country, connecting Canadians to new communities and further developing existing ones. Despite these new opportunities, organized crime groups continue to adapt and misuse technology to commit more complex and sophisticated crimes. In 2023-24, Public Safety Canada will work to improve its response to organized crime in both the increasingly connected physical and cyber domains, including via continued implementation of the Federal Cyber Incident Response Plan and National Cyber Security Action Plan, and the renewal of the National Cyber Security Strategy. The Department will also seek to bolster Canada’s critical infrastructure resilience, and understanding of as well as response to hostile actors and ideologically motivated violent extremism. Critical in achieving these goals will be the reliance on Public Safety Canada’s ongoing domestic and international partnerships toward collaborative efforts and knowledge-sharing best practices, coupled with the advancement of policies and legislation.

The Department will also continue to work with Portfolio partners to implement community safety initiatives to counter firearm-related violence and crime, gangs, organized crime and financial crimes. Efforts towards finalizing the development of a mandatory buyback program will be advanced, as will efforts towards developing a specialized Canadian Financial Crimes Agency. Public Safety Canada will also continue to support the transformation and modernization of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and collaborate with Portfolio agencies to advance efforts to enhance transparency and accountability of public safety institutions, such as supporting the advancement of Bill C-20 and conducting a review of contract policing services. The Department  will continue to support community safety and protect vulnerable populations through the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and a wide variety of initiatives designed to protect children and adults from online sexual exploitation and abuse, and will provide support to places of worship, communities and groups which are most at risk of experiencing hate-motivated crimes. Public Safety Canada will also continue to advance existing efforts towards Record Suspension reforms and develop the implementation plan for Canada’s first ever framework to reduce recidivism.

In support of wider government efforts to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights, the Department will, among other efforts, continue to engage Indigenous communities to better understand and support their unique policing and community safety priorities. Public Safety Canada will continue to support culturally responsive policing and efforts to advance the co-development of a legislative framework that recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service.

Finally, it is evident that environmental risks are among the top global risks facing every country on every continent, and Canada is no exception. The diversity of Canada’s geographic landscape means that Canadians are at risk of harm from several environmental hazards, including wildfires, heat, floods, and other natural disasters, and capacity is required to effectively prevent, mitigate, prepare, respond and recover from them. Recognizing that access to quality and timely information is essential to all pillars of emergency management, the Department will continue to develop tools and resources, such as the National Risk Profile and a public-facing Flood Risk Portal, to share critical information. Public Safety Canada will also continue to support the Canadian Red Cross in the development and implementation of a public awareness campaign targeting vulnerable populations.

In 2023-24, the Department will continue to support efforts to improve national and local disaster response, including through the review of the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements to ensure accurate and timely access to support for provinces and territories, the development of a National Search and Rescue Framework, and the development of a national flood insurance system. Recognizing the pivotal role that public safety personnel play in emergency management, Public Safety Canada will continue to provide funding to the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment to develop and implement informational and therapeutic resources to address post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) in these personnel, and renew the PTSI Action Plan.

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