The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) announced today that it has been asked by the Minister of Science, on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, with support from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, to examine the current state of knowledge on the socio-economic impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on Canadians and the Canadian health care system.

The CCA stated that AMR is a rising global health threat. Patients who are affected by drug-resistant pathogens are at risk of increased infections, longer hospitals stays, and even death. Even common infections are becoming less treatable with available drugs, and few new antibiotics are being developed. As antimicrobial resistant organisms become more prevalent, it is important to understand how this impacts Canadians and our health care system.

In 2016, Water Canada reported on Canadian research to monitor the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes in water systems receiving effluent discharges to assess the risk of human exposure to antibiotic-resistant pathogens after wastewater has left the treatment facility. The study was designed to help understand where and how antibiotic-resistant genes could persist in wastewater treatment facilities and the risk they pose to human and environmental health.

And in 2009, an investigation published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), authored by Université de Montréal and Environment Canada researchers, found that antibiotics, antimicrobials, and antifungals are seeping into the waterways and drinking water.

“The timing of this particular assessment project is quite favourable,” said Carol P. Herbert, president of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. “Tomorrow, Fellows from the CAHS will convene for our annual forum and this year the focus is on AMR. In our discussions we will explicitly consider the AMR assessment project referred by the government so as to advise and inform the Panel deliberations.”

Under the guidance of the CCA’s Scientific Advisory Committee, a multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral expert panel is being assembled for this assessment. The CCA’s Member Academies—the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences— also provide key guidance and input throughout the assessment process, including expert panel nominations and dissemination processes. The expert panel will be appointed in the coming months with a first in-person meeting expected in early 2018. It is anticipated the final report will be released in 2019.

For more information about the CCA or its assessments, please visit


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