A historic day for Canada’s medical isotope industry

October 26, 2021: On Oct. 21, a historic Private Member’s Bill was introduced into the Legislature by Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. The bill asserted Ontario’s global role as a leader in the supply of medical isotopes to fight COVID, keep hospitals safe, and fight cancer.

The motion asks government to:

“Recognize the supply of medical isotopes used to diagnose and treat cancer and the sterilization of medical equipment as a key strategic priority for the Province in its health, economic, export, inter-provincial, energy, research and infrastructure planning and policies as Ontario recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the Province leverage its existing strong foundation in nuclear technology, isotope production and supply chain, and cancer and health research to position itself as a global leader in supply of ‘Made in Ontario’ life-saving medical isotopes to the world.”

The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) recognizes the opportunity presented by continued cross-country leadership in isotope development to lead the global medical isotope charge. The motion tabled last week presents the need to integrate and support Canada and Ontario’s leading role in the supply, distribution, and development of isotopes for medical and industrial applications and addresses inter-provincial barriers to further leverage Canada’s leadership position in this sector.

“The potential for growth in the isotope space provides an invaluable opportunity to leverage Ontario’s established nuclear supply chain that has developed over the past several years,” said MPP Walker, who is championing this motion. “The landscape of medical isotope production in Ontario is diverse, due in part, to the long-standing and world-class research into reactor and accelerator research and will continue to positively make a difference in the healthcare of people around the world.”

James Scongack, Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council, added, “Canada and Ontario have a unique position that is recognized internationally – it is the world’s largest supplier of several isotopes, it is renowned around the world for developing new applications, and it hosts all of its supply chain partners within its borders, as well as  a long tradition of collaboration. The growing demand for isotopes presents a strong opportunity to expand and cement Canada’s leadership position in this innovative industry. This motion is an opportunity for Ontario to come together and work toward a common goal that helps fight cancer and saves lives.”

The importance of nuclear medicine and medical isotopes in our daily lives – and Canada and Ontario’s global leadership position in this sector – admittedly flies under the radar for most people, and their significance has never been more vital than in this past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular production of radioisotopes first began in Canada in 1947, and since then, application of these life-saving innovations has continued to expand. From treating cancer and other diseases, to the sterilization of single-use medical devices, medical isotopes save lives every day and protect health care workers around the world.

“Every day, 27 Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour and they all face limited treatment options,” said Susan Marshall, CEO of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. “This is why the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is so encouraged to be participating as part of the CNIC and supports this isotope Motion. We hope that this motion will provide more hope in the form of innovative treatments for not only brain tumour patients but all patients whose lives are changed every day through the use of various types of medical isotopes.”

As demonstrated in the work and the success stories of the CNIC and its many partners, Ontario and Canada can succeed with a focused strategy that prioritizes investment by using an evidence-informed, expert-driven, targeted and collaborative approach.

The CNIC stands ready to work with the government to ensure we truly maximize Canada’s superpower potential and continue to improve health care around the world.

About the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council

The CNIC is a coalition of science, health care and nuclear sector organizations to ensure Canada remains a world leader in the production of life-saving isotopes by bringing awareness and supporting long-term policies at the domestic and international level that will save countless lives and support health-care innovation for decades to come. To learn more about the CNIC visit www.CanadianIsotopes.ca and follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

For more information, please contact:

Andrew Thiele
Executive Director
Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council