On January 24, I was excited to be appointed to the Standing Committee on Health (HESA), as health is an important issue in Newmarket-Aurora. This will be a great opportunity to think back on my days as a board member for Southlake Regional Health Centre and voice our community’s health priorities and concerns.
Below you will find a brief summary on the role of committees and its members at the federal level, including information on the previous work of the Standing Committee on Health.
House of Commons Committees
In Canada, at the federal level, there are various established committees: standing, standing joint, legislative, special, special joint and subcommittee. Each examines selected matters, report conclusions and provides recommendations, and all play a crucial role in the scrutiny of legislation and the oversight of government activity.
In addition to continuing from one parliamentary session to another, standing committees carry out the majority of committee activity and cover every main area of government activity. Including, but not limited to, Environment and Sustainable Development, Finance, Foreign Affairs and International Development, Health, and Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Committees are empowered to study all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization and operation of the departments assigned to them. Studies may be initiated by committee members or by referral from the House and may be categorized as estimates, appointments, or more frequently:
- Legislative matters: the majority of bills that are made into law are referred to committees for review and a number of laws stipulate committee review of their application once they have come into force; and
- Subject matters: the nature, scope and length of a study, insofar as it falls under the Committee’s mandate, is defined by members and observations and recommendations may be presented to the House.
Individuals, referred to as witnesses, are regularly invited to appear before committee to provide information relevant to studies being carried out. Witnesses are often invited to appear by the Committee but may also make a request to appear.
Individuals and organizations may also submit an electronic brief, or written submission with opinions, comments and recommendations on a matter being studied, in either official language. Once received, briefs become part of the Committee’s public documents.
For more information on committees, please visit the links provided at the end of this article.
The Standing Committee on Health
HESA’s mandate includes the studies of issues that relate to Health Canada, its bills, regulations and internal bodies. It also includes oversight of the four health-related agencies: the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Past HESA self-initiated studies include: Diabetes Strategies in Canada and Abroad, LGBTQ2 Health in Canada, Opioids Crisis in Canada. Past legislative matter studies include: Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drug Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children) and Bill C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.
I look forward to representing Newmarket-Aurora’s health priorities, voicing our community’s concerns and providing updates as HESA undertakes a variety of studies this session.
Tony Van Bynen