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Biosafety Programs and Resources

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Center for Biosecurity (CB) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (HPTA) and the Human Pathogens Importation RegulationsExternal Link (HPIR). As part of its efforts to promote compliance and reduce the risk to public health and safety, CB provides biosafety training and tools to those who work with human pathogens and toxins. Providing these programs helps standardize procedures and mitigate risks, contributing to a biosafety and biosecurity regime that strengthens safe handling of pathogens and toxins which, in turn, protects the general public.

Pathogen Safety Data Sheets

CB has approximately 200 Pathogen Safety Data Sheets (PSDS) (formerly Material Safety Data Sheets) for infectious substances available. These technical documents provide detailed descriptions of the hazardous properties of specific human pathogens or toxins and recommendations for work practices involving these agents. The PSDS have been under revision and the updated material is posted as it becomes available.

Canadian Biosafety Standards and Guidelines

The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have worked together to create an updated set of Canadian Biosafety Standards and GuidelinesExternal Link (CBSG) in an effort to streamline biosafety requirements and lessen the impact on stakeholders regulated by both Agencies. The 1st edition of the CBSGExternal Link is now available for facilities handling human and terrestrial animal pathogens, prions and biological toxins.

Biosafety Learning and Knowledge

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers biosafety and biosecurity learning materials to support regulated parties under the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act and promote a common understanding of the principles and practices of biosafety and biosecurity. These resources are available through an e-learning portal.

Biosafety Advisories and Special Biosafety Notifications

Biosafety Advisories are developed when the data obtained from a Risk Assessment of a new or emerging pathogen of interest indicates that new physical and/or operational requirements are required for persons to work with the pathogen safely. The new operational and/or physical requirements need to be disseminated to interested parties as soon as possible for the safe handling of the material; in order to ensure accuracy they are reviewed frequently as more information becomes available.

Special Biosafety Notifications are developed when the data obtained from a Risk Assessment for a particular pathogen indicates that no changes will be required to the pre-existing physical and operational requirements. The notification is created to emphasize these requirements to limit the spread of the particular pathogen.

Biosafety Directives

In general, the risk group of a pathogen and containment level required for handling the pathogen are the same number. Biosafety directives are developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada when the containment requirements for a specific pathogen, or group of pathogens, are different from their risk group. Biosafety directives provide regulated parties with a comprehensive overview of the customized containment level requirements for activities with the pathogen (e.g., derogations) as well as other biosafety considerations. It is important to note that biosafety directives are to be utilized in conjunction with the requirements outlined in the Canadian Biosafety Standards and GuidelinesLien externe (CBSG).

For more information about the work of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Center for Biosecurity (CB), please call (613) 957-1779 or send an e-mail to biosafety.biosecurite@phac-aspc.gc.ca.

Center for Biosecurity (CB)
Public Health Agency of Canada
100 Colonnade Road, P.L.: 6201A
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9