Testing for COVID-19: Roles and responsibilities across Canada

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Governments at the federal, provincial and territorial levels each play important roles in COVID-19 testing.

Canada is providing billions of dollars to support provinces and territories with the cost of testing. While each province and territory decides how to test their residents, they’re guided by a common, national approach to testing.

At the federal level

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) leads Canada’s public health response to COVID-19. For testing, PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory works with public health laboratories nationwide to:

PHAC also publishes the number of people tested in Canada every day.

Health Canada authorizes COVID-19 testing devices that are imported or sold in Canada. For a product to be authorized by Health Canada, it must be submitted for review by a manufacturer. To date, a number of accurate and reliable COVID-19 tests have been authorized. Following authorization, Health Canada monitors the safety and effectiveness of tests and immediately takes action, if required, to protect the health and safety of Canadians. 

At the provincial and territorial level

Provinces and territories are responsible for the delivery and administration of health care services, including public and private laboratory-developed tests. They can develop their own sample collection and testing methods for COVID-19 and are responsible for ensuring that these tests provide accurate and reliable results. This includes ensuring that laboratory-developed tests and test collection methods are safe and effective. Laboratories that develop their own tests and offer testing services aren’t regulated by Health Canada.

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