Canada releases action plan on antimicrobial resistance

More than 5,400 Canadians die from infections each year
calendar icon 29 June 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

In Canada and across the world, the microbes that cause infections are increasingly becoming resistant to the drugs designed to treat them. This is known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and it poses one of the greatest health and economic threats to Canada and across the globe.

In 2018, it was estimated that more than 5,400 Canadians die every year from infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics and that AMR costs our healthcare system $1.4 billion. AMR is clearly an urgent and growing threat to global health, with wide-spread socio-economic impacts.

In a recent press release, Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of health, and the Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture, released the Pan-Canadian Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, developed in collaboration with the provinces and territories.

This Action Plan represents a significant milestone in strengthening the pan-Canadian preparedness and response to AMR. It establishes federal, provincial and territorial commitments on AMR over the next five years (2023-2027). Ten shared priority actions will guide multi-sectoral and multi-jurisdictional efforts across five pillars: research and innovation; monitoring; stewardship; infection prevention and control; and leadership.

    Collective action across sectors and jurisdictions is essential to address AMR and to safeguard the effectiveness of antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, which are critical for modern-day medicine, said the release. They treat and prevent serious infections and are essential for routine and life-saving medical procedures.

    Antimicrobials also help protect animal health and welfare and play a critical role in agriculture and food production systems across Canada.

    AMR can spread across geographical borders and between humans, animals, and their shared environments. This means that no one sector, government or country can effectively address AMR alone. The Action Plan was developed with this principle in mind and will be implemented through a One Health approach, which recognizes that the health of humans, animals and the environment are closely linked.

    Moving forward, the Government of Canada will continue to build on the collaborative work with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous Peoples, industry stakeholders, and with partners across One Health sectors. This continued collaboration will facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan’s 10 shared priorities and will help preserve the effectiveness of these important drugs and to improve health for all.

    "AMR already impacts the lives of thousands of Canadians each year, including by threatening important routine and life-saving medical procedures such as joint replacements, organ transplantations and chemotherapy," said Duclos. "AMR also has broad socio-economic impacts that span borders across Canada and globally, indicating that we must act together to address it. Canada is stepping up to be part of the solution. Through this Action Plan, together with provinces and territories we can protect the health of humans, animals and the environment against AMR."

    "The Pan-Canadian Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance is a true collaborative effort that considers the interconnections between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment," added Bibeau. "We all have a role to play in combatting antimicrobial resistance, including governments, veterinarians, researchers and the entire global agrifood value chain."

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