It is not a coincidence that the NCCHPP is located in Québec, at the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. Québec is a recognized leader in Canada in public health. Its approach, which integrates population and public health, permits a wider range of strategies and interventions. Public health capacity is also higher in Québec. The public health network is integrated into the regional structures, and supported by a strong core of professionals and researchers in the INSPQ.
Significant for our Centre is a key article in Québec's Public Health Act. Article 54 (2002) mandates assessments of public policies in all ministries to identify their potential impact on health. The health ministry is responsible for receiving the assessments and other ministries are charged with reporting to the health ministry. This law, unique in Canada, provides an important platform for advancing healthy public policy.
Although not commonly used in Canada outside of Québec, health impact assessment (HIA) is used in several European countries. One of the NCCHPP's projects is to study HIA as a policy instrument and to make the knowledge accessible to the Canadian public health community. In our view, the value of HIA is not so much in any one specific approach or tool, but in its framework of bringing research information on health risks into focus around specific policy proposals.
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