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Proposed legislation to improve lab safety and biosecurity


Ottawa, ON – In late April, Health Minister Tony Clement tabled legislation (Bill C-54) that is aimed at strengthening bio-security and biosafety in Canada by establishing consistent safety requirements for laboratories working with human pathogens and toxins.

“This proposed legislation will bring Canada into line with other developed nations,” he said. “It will also make Canada’s laboratory environment safer for our scientists and lab workers, and improve security for all Canadians.”

The proposed bill establishes a mandatory licensing system to track human pathogens. It will also provide inspection powers to help ensure compliance with the Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines (LBGs), and that the legislation is applied properly and consistently across the country.

The proposed legislation builds on existing importation regulations and establishes legal prohibitions and authorities designed to ensure all work done with human pathogens and toxins is carried out in as safe a manner as possible, consistent with international standards.

The proposed legislation mandates the application of existing Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines (LBGs) in all Canadian labs that possess human pathogens and toxins. The proposed legislation is the product of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s extensive nationwide consultations with stakeholders, including scientists, lab workers, academics and bio-security experts.

Further to requiring adherence to the LBGs, the proposed legislation prohibits the following:

– possession of certain listed human pathogens and/or toxins (smallpox is currently the one pathogen on this list);
– the intentional misuse of human pathogens and/or toxins to cause risk of harm; and
– any use of human pathogens and/or toxins without a licence.

The government says the proposed legislation will bring Canada’s laboratory legislation more in line with our international partners, including Australia, the UK, the US and other countries.