Government of Canada takes action on antimicrobial resistance

News Release

New rules will help to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to Canadians

May 17, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Health Canada

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious and growing threat to public health, both in Canada and around the world. The Government of Canada is committed to taking action to fight this global health concern. Today, Health Canada announced new rules for veterinary drugs that will better protect Canadians against AMR; these changes to the Food and Drug Regulations have been published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

Changes to the Food and Drug Regulations include:

  • Restricting the personal importation of certain veterinary drugs for food-producing animals;
  • Requiring companies to follow stricter guidelines to ensure the quality of their active pharmaceutical ingredients;
  • Requiring manufacturers, importers and compounders of veterinary drugs to report annual sales of medically important antimicrobial drugs to Health Canada to enable better surveillance; and
  • Introducing a more flexible and risk-appropriate framework to make importation simpler for low-risk veterinary health products, including products that may be used as alternatives to antimicrobial drugs.

These changes complement other ongoing initiatives, such as collaborating with provincial and territorial health authorities, the pharmaceutical industry, veterinarians, food animal producers and other stakeholders to promote the prudent use of antimicrobial drugs in animals.

As antimicrobial-resistant bacteria may be transferred to humans from animals through the food chain and compromise the treatment of human infections, these regulatory initiatives are important steps in protecting the long-term health and well-being of all Canadians.

Quick Facts

  • Health Canada is responsible for authorizing human and veterinary antimicrobial drugs in Canada and promoting their prudent use. Approximately 80% of medically important antimicrobials sold in Canada are used in livestock.
  • Microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) develop resistance when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals). As a result, the medicines become ineffective, and infections persist in the body. These infections can spread to others, and increase the risk of serious complications.
  • Without effective antimicrobials to prevent and treat infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (such as caesarean sections or hip replacements) could become very high risk.


“Antimicrobial resistance is a serious issue both domestically and internationally. An increasing number of drugs are no longer effectively treating infections because of antimicrobial resistance, which means that human health is at risk. Changes to the Food and Drug Regulations introduced today will help protect Canadians from this growing global public health concern.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

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Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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