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 two Ministers of Public Safety and 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 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 Ministers 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’s mandate letter and the Minister of Emergency Preparedness’ mandate letter as well as the supplementary mandate letter.

Operating Context

In 2020-21, Public Safety Canada played a key role in the development, coordination and implementation of policies and programs to strengthen national security, community safety and emergency management in Canada, and to protect its citizens from a wide-range of public safety threats.

Accessibility to malicious cyber tools, for example, has significantly increased the rate of cybercrimes, such as cyber ransoming, which represent a growing threat to Canada's economic well-being. As major parts of Canada’s economy, critical infrastructure and essential services move increasingly online every year, governments, businesses, organizations and Canadians may be subject to increasing cyber attacks, as well as novel threats to national security and public safety. Public Safety Canada is collaborating with its Portfolio and federal partners to address these issues by exercising leadership on cyber security; clearly defining roles, responsibilities and accountability mechanisms; and implementing measures to improve the security and resilience of Canada’s vital assets, infrastructure and systems.

During the past year, Canada has witnessed the emergence of new national security threats and the increased incidence of hate crimes inspired by violent ideology. The prevalence of social media platforms has provided individuals and groups greater access to a broad audience to promote hate and bias towards people of different race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability, and to radicalize followers. Through the efforts of the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence, Public Safety Canada has worked to counter radicalization to violence by providing financial support to community initiatives; coordinating research to better understand radicalization to violence and how best to counter it; and collaborating with its Portfolio partners and a range of stakeholders to build and share knowledge on the phenomena to better address the reality on the ground.

Over the past number of years, organized criminal groups have become more complex and sophisticated as have the types of crimes they commit. They are using new and evolving technology to facilitate covert communication and to commit crime by exploiting cyber vulnerabilities. This trend has rose since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the meteoric change across the globe towards remote working. Organized criminal groups are also expanding into legitimate business activities and branching out into new markets in Canada. Public Safety Canada is working with its Portfolio partners to implement initiatives to counter gangs, organized crime, and the use of firearms in the commission of crime.

Given the nation’s geographic size and diversity, the possibilities of severe weather events and natural disasters are a persistent reality for Canada and Canadians. These events are resulting in greater damages, costs and hardship, as evidenced by the recent increase in floods and wildfires. Public Safety Canada is collaborating with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal partners, as well as Indigenous communities, to modernize and harmonize emergency prevention and response mechanisms to better mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies, and to build safer and more resilient communities across this vast land.

Over the past many months, Canadians have faced extraordinary changes to the way they live, work and interact with one another. Many have experienced challenges associated with shifting towards remote work; caring for family, friends and loved ones; and protecting their health and wellbeing in these unprecedented times. The Government Operations Centre (GOC), housed at Public Safety Canada, has worked intently to support Canada’s emergency response.

Though the challenges are many, Public Safety Canada has and will continue to work tirelessly together with its Portfolio, federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to serve Canadians by ensuring that Canada’s national security, public safety and emergency preparedness priorities and commitments are met.

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