The Potential Impacts of Antimicrobial Resistance in Canada

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

The Question

  • What is the socio-economic impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) for Canadians and the Canadian health care system?

Progress Report

The CCA’s Board of Directors has approved the assessment and preliminary background research has begun. The chair and expert panel members are being identified with guidance from the CCA’s Scientific Advisory Committee and input from its Member Academies ― the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. It is expected that the first in-person meeting of the expert panel will occur in early 2018, with a final report released in 2019.


The era of antimicrobial use began in the 1920s, with the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming, who cautioned even at that time against the inevitability of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As anticipated, antimicrobial effectiveness has declined over time, and AMR is emerging. Although AMR occurs naturally, with pathogens’ innate ability to adapt to antimicrobials, it is increased by other factors, such as inappropriate use of antimicrobials, emerging mutations, and colonization.

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. As the prevalence of resistant bacteria increases, they become the prominent agents causing human infection. Even common infections are less treatable with available drugs. In spite of the rapid development of AMR, few new antimicrobial agents are being developed.

As antimicrobial resistant organisms become more prevalent, it is important to understand how this impacts Canadians, particularly vulnerable populations. As such, this assessment will examine the socio-economic impact of AMR for Canadians and the Canadian health care system.

Expert Panel

Under the guidance of the CCA’s Scientific Advisory Committee, a multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral expert panel is being assembled. The expert panel process ensures that an objective, credible, and authoritative response to the question will result.

For further information, please contact:

Emmanuel Mongin, Project Director, at 613-567-5000 ext. 284 or   

For media inquiries, please contact:

Samantha Rae Ayoub, Communications and Publishing Director at 613-567-5000 ext. 256 or