Government strengthens Canada’s leadership role in medical isotope production

Accelerator and nuclear reactors, in partnership with First Nations and biomanufacturing, to receive up to $35 million to support the development, production, advancement and distribution of medical isotopes used in fight against cancer and in diagnostic imaging

June 27, 2023 – Tiverton, Ontario

The Government of Canada continues to deliver on its promise to rebuild and strengthen the biomanufacturing and life sciences sector across the country. Since March 2020, major achievements have been reached, with over $2 billion invested, resulting in 36 major new and expanded projects to boost the Canadian biomanufacturing and life sciences sector’s capacities. Health care professionals need access to the proper tools and therapies to address all kinds of medical challenges, treat diseases and care for their patients. That is why the government is investing in the medical isotopes sector to ensure that Canada remains a global leader in medical treatments and that Canadians have access to the best health care possible. Canada has played a key leadership role in the development and use of medical isotopes for over 70 years, positioning the country as a global leader in the production and supply of medical isotopes.

Today, Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Member of Parliament for Oakville North—Burlington, Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced the official launch of the new Canadian Medical Isotope Ecosystem (CMIE). The CMIE will be under the oversight of the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC) and TRIUMF Innovations, supporting projects with Bruce Power, BWXT Medical, McMaster University and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. It will receive up to $35 million over a five-year period to develop initiatives focused on the production, advancement and distribution of medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals in Canada. Through this investment, the Government of Canada is taking another step in advancing Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, which is designed to improve the long-term resilience and promote the growth of Canada’s life and sciences sector.

Demand for medical isotopes worldwide is increasing, and today’s investment will ensure that Canada has access to a steady supply. The CMIE will encourage the domestic production of medical isotopes, an important component used in the health care sector for medical diagnoses and therapies, including cancer and heart diseases. This new ecosystem will advance Canadian expertise on medical isotopes and make Canada an attractive hub for investment in the medical isotopes sector.

The CMIE will help fund new tools and therapies that can improve the lives of Canadians who receive medical treatments, while also helping health care workers provide the best care that they can. The ecosystem will attract over $75 million in investments, create or maintain over 600 highly skilled jobs for Canadians, and create 30 internship opportunities.

This funding responds to the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council’s report, Isotopes for Hope: Canadian Leadership Needed Now More Than Ever, calling on the federal government to invest in the growth of Canada’s medical isotope ecosystem.

As part of the funding announced today at Bruce Power, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) will take the next step in their partnership with Bruce Power to jointly produce, advance and market new isotopes in support of the global fight against cancer, marking a significant contribution to economic reconciliation within the SON territory.