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 are we doing to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance?

We are responding to AMR with the following 4 actions. We are:

  1. strengthening surveillance systems that monitor AMR, which 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. strengthening 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
      • health professionals
    • the development of public health guidelines and best practices
  3. working with veterinarians, feed companies and farmers to:
    • strengthen regulations for veterinary medicines and medicated feeds
    • provide access to drugs or practices that can be used instead of antimicrobials to keep livestock healthy
    • encourage farming practices that reduce the need for antimicrobials
  4. supporting AMR research and innovation both in Canada and abroad, including research: 
    • for new treatments and better ways to diagnose illnesses
    • to better understand the development and spread of resistance

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

The Government of Canada has committed to develop a pan-Canadian framework on AMR and AMU in Canada by 2017. This framework will build upon the federal action plan. It is being developed jointly with the provinces, territories and other key partners in:

  • human health
  • animal health
  • agriculture
  • other sectors

The framework will:

  • guide our collective action in tackling AMR in Canada
  • identify priority areas for action and desired outcomes in relation to:
    • surveillance
    • infection control
    • research and innovation
    • responsible planning and management of resources (stewardship)

How do 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 the national coordination and integration program for: 

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

This system provides a better understanding of AMR and AMU to inform public health action across Canada. 

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

How do we support appropriate antimicrobial use in humans?

Our AMR work supports a better understanding of how to prevent and control its spread. Research is used to promote evidence-based guidance and best practices for both 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 mean prevention of illness and less AMU, which leads to less AMR.

Our goal is to decrease inappropriate AMU and to make sure Canadians are protected both at home and abroad. This is a shared effort that involves co-operation between:

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

We will continue to share information with the public and those who provide health care services. Information 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 

How have we changed product labelling to help reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance?

To encourage responsible prescribing and use of antimicrobials, manufacturers are being asked to add precautionary statements consistently to product labelling. This includes statements on product monographs and package inserts.

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 do we work with veterinarians, feed companies and farmers to support responsible use of antimicrobials?

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

  • supporting the development of on-farm food safety programs, which include guidance on the responsible use of antimicrobials
  • funding research into developing other approaches to improve animal health while reducing the use of antimicrobials
  • increasing veterinary supervision on the use of antimicrobials
  • supporting programs that improve the health of farm animals
  • encouraging animal hygiene and livestock raising practices that reduce the need for antimicrobials
  • monitoring the use of authorized antimicrobials on animal farms
  • educating farmers and farming communities on using antimicrobials responsibly

What else are we doing to address antimicrobial resistance?

We are funding other key undertakings in Canada and abroad to help address AMR. They include:

  • supporting immunization programs to prevent and control the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases
    • this leads to less sickness in humans and animals, and reduces the need for antimicrobials
  • improving animal production practices, disease prevention and treatment, and vaccine development
  • supporting health care leadership and coordination to improve and ensure responsible AMU in:
    • hospitals
    • long-term care and community settings
  • 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 $7.6 million invested to date
    • supporting the Genomics Research and Development Initiative, a $20 million, 5-year project aimed at gaining a better understanding of:
      • the activities that contribute to the development of AMR
      • how antimicrobial bacteria reach humans
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