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Description found in Archives
Fonds consists of
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
46 architectural drawings
900 aperture cards
1,079 videocassettes (ca. 1,022 h, 12 min, 58 s)
446 film reels (ca. 188 h, 8 min, 15 s)
315 audio reels (ca. 330 h, 8 min)
118 audio cassettes (ca. 151 h, 56 min, 19 s)
77 audio discs (16 h, 55 min, 15 s)
5 video reels (ca. 5 h)
Language of material
Added language of material: French
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the current Department of Health (Health Canada), and of records created and/or maintained by the former Department of National Health and Welfare and its predecessors. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description. Audio-visual material can be found in the lower level records of the following sous-fonds and series records: Information Services Directorate, Medical Services Branch, Office of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Miscellaneous Multimedia Records, Health Services and Promotions Branch, Fitness and Amateur Sport, Health Protection Branch, and Communications Branch.
Conditions of access
Copyright belongs to the Crown. Credit Library and Archives Canada.
Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)
Creator / Provenance
Biography / Administrative history
The roots of the Department of National Health and Welfare (NHW) may be found as far back as the middle of the nineteenth century, with the creation in 1854 of a temporary Central Board of Health to handle the health emergency created by the cholera epidemic of that year. In 1868, Parliament passed the Quarantine Act, which provided for the inspection of all vessels entering Canada in order to determine that the passengers (generally immigrants) were free from contagious diseases, and the Sick Mariners Act, which was designed to provide all seamen with proper medical services should they fall ill while in Canadian ports and waters. Both acts were originally administered by the Department of Agriculture but in 1872, responsibility for marine hospitals and sick mariners was transferred to the Department of Marine and Fisheries. In December 1880, the Quarantine Division of the Department of Agriculture acquired responsibility for the administration of the leprosarium located at Tracadie, New Brunswick (originally established on Sheldrake Island in 1844 and transferred to Tracadie in 1849).
As the Department of Agriculture began to act more as a public health information centre, with reports and statistics being summarized in its annual reports, the Quarantine Division's name was changed to the Quarantine and Public Health Division in 1900. The functions of this division were later transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Immigration and Colonization by Order-in-Council P.C. 1348 of 3 June 1918. Immigration medical inspections, which had become the responsibility of the Department of the Interior in 1892, were also transferred in 1918.
The Department of Health was created on 1 September 1919 by virtue of the Department of Health Act. The new department, which consolidated health-related functions from a number of other departments, was responsible for all matters relating to public health in general, inspection and medical care of immigrants and seamen, the health of civil servants, and the collection, publication and distribution of public health information. The Department of Health merged with the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment in 1928 to form the Department of Pensions and National Health, which was divided into two divisions. The National Health Division retained a similar form to that enjoyed by the preceding Department of Health.
In 1944, the responsibilities of the Department of Pensions and National Health were split. Following the enactment of the Department of National Health and Welfare Act on 21 October 1944, health and social welfare functions became the responsibility of the new department, while the remaining functions relating to veterans became the responsibility of the newly-created Department of Veterans' Affairs.
The Department of National Health and Welfare was responsible for all matters relating to the promotion and preservation of the health, social security and social welfare of the people of Canada. Its functions included: investigation and research into public health and welfare; inspection and medical care of immigrants and seamen and the administration of marine and other hospitals; supervision of public health aspects of railway, water and other forms of transportation; enforcement of public health aspects of the International Joint Commission; promotion and conservation of the health of public servants; collection of information and statistics relating to public health; and cooperation with provincial authorities to preserve and improve public health and social welfare. Between 1951 and 1958, NHW was responsible for Civil Defence. NHW also administered other acts and regulations related to health and welfare, among them: the Canada Health Act; the Food and Drugs Act; the Narcotic Control Act; the Quarantine Act; the Fitness and Amateur Sports Act; the Canada Pension Plan Act; the Old Age Security Act; the Family Allowances Act; the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act; and the Canada Assistance Plan Act.
In 1993, the functions of National Health and Welfare were split between two departments: the newly-created Department of Human Resources Development, and the new Department of Health. At the time of the split, NHW was composed of two administrative branches (Personnel Administration and Corporate Management) and nine line or operational branches: Health Protection; Health Services and Promotions; Medical Services; Fitness and Amateur Sports; Income Security Programs; Social Service Programs; Policy, Planning and Information; Intergovernmental and International Affairs; and Communications.
Other entities which reported to Parliament through the Minister of National Health and Welfare included the Pension Appeals Board, the Canada Pension Plan Advisory Committee, the National Council of Welfare, the National Advisory Council on Aging, the Demographic Review Secretariat, and the Medical Research Council of Canada. Those entities responsible for social welfare functions now report through the Minister of Human Resources Development, while those dealing with health issues report through the Minister of Health. For more detailed information, see the descriptive records for the above sous fonds.
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