Government of Canada's response to antimicrobial resistance

We are working to prevent and control the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Learn how the Government of Canada monitors AMR and supports appropriate antimicrobial (antibiotic) use (AMU) in both humans and animals.

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What we are doing to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance

We are working with all implicated stakeholders, including other government departments and provincial/territorial authorities, to respond to AMR with 4 actions:

  1. strengthening surveillance systems that monitor AMR and AMU. This allows us to: 
    • identify new threats or changing patterns of AMR and AMU in humans and animals
    • monitor the effectiveness of efforts to promote responsible AMU and limit the spread of AMR
  2. promoting responsible AMU in human and veterinary medicine through:
    • regulatory and policy changes for use of veterinary drugs
    • awareness activities for all users of antimicrobials, including 
      • the public
      • human and veterinary health professionals
    • the development of public health guidelines and best practices
  3. strengthening the regulatory framework for veterinary drugs with:
    • changes to the Food and Drug Regulations that were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on May 17, 2017. These changes aim to increase oversight of antimicrobials for use in animals by focusing on:
      • active pharmaceutical ingredients for veterinary use
      • personal importation of certain drugs for food-producing animals
      • reporting antimicrobial sales information
      • veterinary health products
  4. undertaking and supporting AMR research and innovation in Canada and abroad, including research: 
    • for new treatments, better ways to diagnose illnesses and to support reduced antimicrobial use
    • to better understand the development and spread of AMR

These actions are laid out in the Federal Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use in Canada, released in March 2015.

Federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions are also working collaboratively to develop a pan-Canadian approach to AMR. We play a convening role.

The Pan-Canadian Framework on AMR and AMU was publically released in September 2017. It was developed jointly with the provinces, territories and other key partners in:

  • human health
  • animal health
  • agriculture

The Framework provides a policy foundation to guide and align our collective actions in tackling AMR in Canada, within and across sectors and jurisdictions. It identifies strategic objectives, opportunities for action and desired outcomes under 4 core components:

  • surveillance
  • infection prevention and control
  • stewardship
  • research and innovation

A pan-Canadian action plan will soon be developed to implement the objectives of the Framework. The action plan will lay out the details of:

  • timeframes
  • concrete deliverables
  • measurable outcomes

How we monitor antimicrobial resistance

We use surveillance systems to identify new threats or changes to existing patterns of AMR and AMU.

The Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (CARSS) is a national coordination and integration program for: 

  • AMR surveillance systems
  • gathering information about AMR and AMU in humans and animals

This system gives us a better understanding of AMR and AMU. The understanding is used to inform public health action across Canada.

We also require manufacturers, importers and compounders to report the sales of medically important antimicrobials for veterinary use. This leads to better support for surveillance activities.

Learn more about the other surveillance systems used to monitor AMU and AMR.

How we support responsible antimicrobial use in humans

We develop evidence-based guidance and knowledge products for:

  • infection prevention and control
  • appropriate antimicrobial use for health professionals and the public

This can include how to develop:

  • treatment guidance
  • routine infection prevention and control
  • proper hand washing programs, policies and procedures

These best practices support the prevention of illness and less AMU, which leads to less AMR.

Our goal is to increase the understanding of AMR and foster better use of antimicrobials to make sure Canadians are protected, both at home and abroad. This is a shared effort that involves collaboration with:

  • provinces and territories
  • hospitals
  • health care professionals
  • veterinarians
  • patients
  • industry
  • agricultural sectors
  • the global community

We will continue to share information with the public and those who provide health care services. The information we share includes:

  • when and how to use antimicrobials:
    • such as ensuring products are labelled with the proper instructions on appropriate use and disposal
  • the best antimicrobial drugs for treating certain conditions 

To encourage responsible prescribing and use of antimicrobials, we are asking manufacturers of human antimicrobials to add precautionary statements to product labelling, consistently. This includes adding statements on:

  • package inserts
  • product monographs

These statements will advise patients and health care providers on how to:

  • use antibiotics and other antimicrobials properly
  • help prevent AMR

For more details on what statements will be used, please consult the antimicrobials product labelling notice.

How we support responsible antimicrobial use in animals

Working with farmers and veterinarians is important in promoting responsible use of antimicrobials. We do this by:

  • supporting the development of on-farm food safety programs:
    •  including guidance on the responsible use of antimicrobials
  • funding research for developing other approaches (including vaccines) to improve animal health and prevent disease while reducing the use of antimicrobials
  • increasing veterinary supervision on the use of antimicrobials and requiring that all medically important antimicrobials for veterinary use are sold by prescription only
  • supporting the veterinary and farming communities in putting into practice regulatory and policy changes for use of veterinary drugs
  • supporting programs that improve the health of farm animals
  • encouraging animal hygiene and livestock raising practices that:
    • reduce the need for antimicrobials
    • help in the prevention and treatment of diseases
  • monitoring the use of authorized antimicrobials on animal farms
  • educating farmers and farming communities on using antimicrobials responsibly
  • removing growth promotion claims from medically important antimicrobial drug labels
  • including responsible use statements on all ‘in-feed’ and ‘in-water’ medically important antimicrobial drug labels

Learn more about the work being done to promote responsible use of antimicrobials in animals.

What more we are doing to address antimicrobial resistance

We are funding or sharing our expertise through other key undertakings in Canada and abroad to help address AMR. These include:

  • supporting immunization programs to prevent and control the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases:
    • leading to less sickness in humans and animals thus reducing the need for antimicrobials
  • improving:
    • vaccine development
    • animal production practices
    • disease prevention and treatment
  • supporting health care leadership and coordination to improve and ensure responsible AMU in:
    • hospitals
    • long-term care and community settings
  • supporting an AMR research component under the Genomics Research and Development Initiative through a $20 million, 5-year project. This project is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the intersection between food production and the development of AMR in human health contexts. This includes understanding:
    • how antimicrobial-resistant bacteria reach humans
    • the activities that contribute to the development of AMR
  • supporting the development of evidence, such as the World Bank study, on the economic consequences of AMR
  • partnering with the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance. This is an international collaboration aimed at researching new approaches to address AMR, with approximately $9.9 million invested to date
  • supporting the World Health Organization in its work implementing the Global Action Plan on AMR using a One Health approach
  • chairing the AMR Action Package under the Global Health Security Agenda to encourage a multi-sectoral approach to AMR
  • leveraging Canadian and international expertise through active participation on the Trans-Atlantic Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance and other international forums

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