Public Health Core Competency Development

“The best way to guarantee public health capacity … is to ensure that the public health system has a strong baseline capacity – a highly qualified workforce with transferable skills or competencies that can be called upon in times of need.”

Dr. Cordell Neudorf, Chair of CPHA Board of Directors

Please explore this website to become familiar with the Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada and the BC Core Competencies Project.

Navigate each section of this website step by step to learn about national and BC public health core competency work and how you as a public health frontline provider, consultant, specialist, manager or supervisor can assess your own core competencies and connect with important resources, tools and professional development opportunities to strengthen your public health practice.

Public Health Core Competencies Get You Ahead!

Stick man riding an arrow


What Are Public Health Core Competencies?

Public health core competencies are the central knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for the public health workforce to practice effectively and achieve the core functions of public health. The core functions of public health include: Population health assessment, surveillance, disease and injury prevention, health promotion, health protection and emergency preparedness.

36 public health core competency statements (essential requirements) have been nationally defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada and have been organized into 7 broad categories. These public health core competency categories include:

  • Public health sciences
  • Assessment and analysis
  • Policy and program planning, implementation and evaluation
  • Diversity and inclusiveness
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Partnerships, collaboration and advocacy

For more information about the nationally defined Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada, Release 1.0 see:

Why Are Public Health Core Competencies Important?

Public health core competencies are significant for frontline providers, consultants, specialists, managers and supervisors, across public health sub-disciplines. The development and implementation of public health core competencies in Canada help to:

  • Confirm and strengthen the essential knowledge, skill and attitude sets required of public health practitioners and professionals
  • Develop and utilize clear job descriptions and work performance indicators to support individual professional development and effective staff management
  • Work effectively in inter-professional & multi-jurisdictional teams to support the exchange of information and resources to support excellence in practice
  • Connect and contextualize public health core competencies in relation to core public health frameworks, programs, strategic and organizational planning
  • Develop the cultural and organizational supports necessary to encourage continuous learning, sharing and knowledge application in the workplace
  • Identify and respond to the dynamic training needs of public health workers
  • Engage senior leadership in the public health and education sectors to collaboratively prioritize, address and advocate for public health competencies

Who Needs Public Health Core Competencies?

All public health practitioners and professionals are encouraged to develop and continue to enhance their public health core competencies. Distinct roles for the public health workforce have been defined and categorized with the development ofCompetency Profiles. The Public Health Competency Profiles have been developed by the Ontario Public Health Association. The three main professional roles that guide core competency categorization include: Frontline provider, Consultant/specialist & Manager/Supervisor. See the “Tools” section for more information.

View the Public Health Competency Profiles

For further background and orientation in public health core competencies, please visit the interactive Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada Orientation Module:

*** Please continue onto the “BC Project”  (STEP 2) section of this website to explore how the PHAC’s nationally defined core competencies have been applied and further developed in BC:

BC Project (Step 2)