Statement from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer: Preserving Antibiotics Now and Into the Future


June 11, 2019                       Ottawa, ON                Public Health Agency of Canada

I am pleased to release my second public health spotlight report—Handle with Care: Preserving Antibiotics Now and Into the Future—to shine a light on the importance of using antibiotics responsibly in human medicine.

Antibiotics are critically important medications for treating serious and often life‑threatening infections. Yet, the more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become. The bacteria that cause these infections may develop resistance to these medications over time. The unnecessary use of antibiotics accelerates this process.

If we do not act now to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics to slow the process of antibiotic resistance, we risk facing a future where antibiotic treatments may no longer be effective in fighting infections. Many currently treatable bacterial infections could once again become serious threats to human health, and common surgical procedures like cesarean sections and hip replacements could become much riskier to perform safely.

When we better understand the many social and cultural reasons behind why unnecessary antibiotic use happens, we can begin to see some of the actions that each of us can take to help fight antibiotic resistance. Canadians can help by keeping their vaccinations up to date, protecting themselves from infection, speaking to their health care providers before using antibiotics, and taking their antibiotics as prescribed. Health care providers can take the time to talk to their patients about antibiotics, stay current on prescribing guidelines and best practices, and promote appropriate use of antibiotics through tools like delayed prescriptions (which are post-dated and only to be filled in the event that symptoms do not improve within a few days). Health system leaders can also play a role by sharing knowledge on appropriate use and by investing in further research and surveillance on antibiotic use and resistance patterns.

Visit to read my full report where you can find out more about antibiotic resistance in Canada and the collective actions needed to preserve the effectiveness of these vital, life-saving drugs now and into the future.

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Page details

Date modified: