Public Health Agency of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Share this page

About the Centre for Biosecurity

Role of the Centre for Biosecurity

The Centre for Biosecurity administers and enforces the HPTA and the HPIR, and provides training and tools to promote safer biosafety practices and more secure laboratory environments. These responsibilities, outlined below, contribute to the Agency’s ongoing efforts to anticipate and respond to public health challenges and protect the health, safety and security of Canadians.

Regulatory Affairs

  • Administering and enforcing the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act and the Human Pathogens Importation Regulations
  • Developing regulations under the HPTA to promote biosafety and biosecurity
  • Establishing an Advisory Committee for Human Pathogens and Toxins to provide expert science advice on the HPTA Schedules and other issues related to human pathogens and toxins

Biosafety Programs and Resources

Outreach, Engagement and Consultation

  • Conducting cross-Canada consultations for the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act program and regulatory framework
  • In conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency External link, conducting national consultations on the harmonized Canadian Biosafety Standards and Guidelines
  • Developing strong and sustainable relationships with stakeholders to promote shared knowledge of best practices

Registration, Permits and Inspection Operations

  • Registrations under the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act
  • Issuing permits to persons importing human pathogens or toxins and certifying facilities with higher risk human pathogens or toxins under the Human Pathogens Importation Regulations
  • Inspections under the HPIR and HPTA

History of the Centre for Biosecurity

The Office of Biosafety (OBS) was established within Health Canada in 1980. Its mission was to carry out effective, evidence-based biosafety interventions on a national basis through regulatory control, surveillance, applied research, and timely dissemination of information. In June 2000, the OBS was amalgamated into the Office of Laboratory Security (OLS) within the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response at Health Canada. Responsibility for the safety program of Health Canada’s laboratories, a network of 10 sites across the country providing specialized testing and research, was transferred to the OLS in November 2000.

To strengthen its ability to protect the health and safety of Canadians, in September 2004 the Government of Canada established a new Public Health Agency of Canada and appointed a Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones. The creation of the Agency and the subsequent establishment of the Centre for Biosecurity (formerly the Pathogen Regulation Directorate) marked the beginning of a new approach to federal leadership and collaboration with provinces and territories on public health and human pathogen regulation.

As of April 1st 2013, some programs at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Office of Biohazard Containment and Safety were transferred to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). As a result, a single office issuance of import permits for human and most terrestrial animal pathogens, as well as requests for CL2 compliance letters and High Biocontainment certification of laboratories handling these types of pathogens, and the transformation from PRD to the Centre for Biosecurity.

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