Public health programs

Ontario’s public health programs have 3 main focuses:

  • prevention
  • screening
  • education


Programs to:

  • improve food and water safety, such as handling toxic waste and reducing air pollution
  • reduce second-hand smoke
  • improve public sanitation
  • control the spread of rabies
  • vaccinate against major infectious diseases
  • screen newcomers to Canada for tuberculosis


Provides tests where the early detection of an illness or health problem can lead to major improvements in health. Examples include:


Programs for:

  • quitting smoking and other tobacco use
  • healthy eating
  • staying active
  • preventing injuries for a safer province
  • using birth control and improving reproductive health
  • preventing and treating sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS
  • breastfeeding

Who offers public health programs

Public health programs are delivered across the province by 36 public health units. A public health unit is a government health agency. They are set up by one or more municipalities to provide community health programs. These programs are carried out by full-time, specially qualified staff.

Find a local public health unit

Who manages Public Health

Each public health unit is run by a medical officer of health. This medical officer reports to a local board of health. The board is largely made up of elected representatives from the local municipal councils. The ministry shares the cost of public health programs with the municipalities.

Who handles disease prevention

Testing and other expertise for disease prevention and health education in the province is provided through 12 public health laboratories.

Find a public health lab location