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

2020–21 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.

Operating context

The world is in constant and rapid evolution. Technological change continues at an unabated pace and the onus is on governments to harness its potential and mitigate its risks. In many regions, environmental disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity, and becoming more unpredictable. Social, technological, political and economic trends are intertwined in various ways, forming new possible threats to public safety. All of these factors may potentially impact Public Safety Canada’s operations and programs in 2020–21.

The threats we face in cyberspace are complex and rapidly evolving. As malicious cyber tools become increasingly accessible and as rates of cybercrime continue to rise, there is a real threat to Canada's economic well-being. With more of the economy and essential services moving online every year, governments, businesses, organizations and Canadians are 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. Addressing this issue requires federal leadership on cyber security, clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, as well as measures to improve the security and resilience of Canada’s vital assets, infrastructure and systems.

Terrorist threats and incidents have highlighted the importance of advancing Canada’s efforts to counter radicalization to violence. The principal terrorist threat to Canada continues to stem from individuals or groups who are inspired by violent ideologies and terrorist groups, such as Daesh or al-Qaida. While Canada’s terrorist threat environment has remained relatively stable, the April 2018 van attack in Toronto was a reminder that violent acts inspired by extremists' views are not exclusively linked to any particular religious, political or cultural ideology. Monitoring and addressing these threats will require strong cooperation among members of Canada’s security and intelligence community.

In recent years, organized crime groups have become more complex and sophisticated, as have the types of crimes they commit. These groups are increasingly using new and evolving technology to commit crime and to communicate with other criminal groups. For example, communications devices are frequently used to target sensitive, personal and financial information in order to conduct identity theft and fraud. Organized crime groups are also expanding into legitimate business activities, as well as branching out into new markets in Canada. Responses must, therefore, be multifaceted to combat them, and other criminal groups, at the national and international levels. Gun-related violence remains one of the most pressing issues for matters of public safety heading into 2020–21 as the Department implements the Government of Canada’s gun-control strategy in a multi-step process in collaboration with Portfolio agencies.

Canada borders on three oceans, stretches across six time zones, and is graced with mountains, plains, forests and tundra. It is subjected to weather patterns that range from Arctic to moderate, from seemingly endless rains to drought, from numbing cold to heat waves. With all those landforms and weather types, the possibilities of severe weather and natural disasters are a constant reality. These events are resulting in greater damages and expenses, as evidenced by the 2019 floods in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as the winter storm in Newfoundland and Labrador. This requires the collaboration of federal, provincial, territorial and municipal partners, as well as Indigenous peoples, to mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies resulting in safer and more resilient communities. Of note in 2020–21, Public Safety Canada will work with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to improve the understanding of flood risks and support the development of up-to-date flood maps for Canada. In addition, Public Safety Canada will work with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to create a new low-cost national flood insurance program to protect homeowners at high risk of flooding and without adequate insurance protection, as well as to develop a national action plan to assist homeowners with potential relocation for those at the highest risk of repeat flooding.

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