Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

March 18, 2015 12:31 ET

Medical Isotope Production an Essential Service, Say PIPSC and Expert Witness

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 18, 2015) - The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), members of its Chalk River Professional Employees Group (CRPEG) and nuclear medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Ross maintain that the production of medical isotopes at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL, formerly Atomic Energy of Canada - AECL) National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River should remain an "essential service" until an alternate supply is securely in place.

"The health and safety of the public can't be anything less than the top priority," said CRPEG President Jonathan Fitzpatrick. "Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford's recent announcement to extend the reactor's capacity to produce the materials needed for medical isotopes from the originally-scheduled shutdown in 2016 to 2018 reinforces the important role that the NRU reactor plays in this regard."

The Institute's position is supported by Dr. Ross, President of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine (CANM). "In order to maintain the supply of medical isotopes and ensure patient safety, it is vital that the NRU maintain its production until such time as world, and especially North American, supplies become more robust."

Over the past 3 days, CRPEG and CNL representatives have been meeting with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) in an effort to resolve the issue of whether or not the production of medical isotopes from the NRU reactor in Chalk River should still be considered an "essential service", as it has been since a 2001 CIRB ruling. The federal government, through CNL, has taken the position that producing the medical isotopes used to diagnose and treat millions of patients in Canada and abroad is not essential.

"This is a critical health issue not only for Canadians, but for patients across the world," concluded Fitzpatrick.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents some 55,000 professionals across Canada's public sector, including approximately 700 engineers and scientists in Chalk River who are responsible for the design and safe operation of CANDU nuclear reactors, radioactive waste management across Canada, and the operation of nuclear reactors that produce medical isotopes used for diagnostic purposes.

Contact Information

  • Pierre Villon
    (613) 228-6310 extension 2228 (office)
    (613) 794-9369 (cell)