Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada

December 15, 2008 19:51 ET

Statement by the Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P. Minister of Natural Resources

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 15, 2008) - Our Government's top priority has always been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of Canadians.

Since being appointed Minister of Natural Resources less than 60 days ago, ensuring that the Canadian medical community receives a consistent and reliable supply of medical isotopes has been of critical importance to me. I have been actively engaged with both my departmental officials, and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), to determine how best to continue meeting this objective.

In the short time that I have been Minister, I have taken a number of steps to ensure that Canadians have a secure supply of medical isotopes over both the short and the long-term:

- First, our Government has asked AECL to determine the requirements for pursuing an extension of the NRU's licence beyond 2011 and I am committed to ensuring that this is completed in a timely manner;

- I have instructed my officials to work with their counterparts at Health Canada to open a dialogue with isotope distributors so that the impact on Canadians is minimized during times of uncertainty in global isotope supply. While the reactor at Chalk River produces isotopes, it is private sector processors and distributors that ultimately direct the flow of isotopes to the global medical community;

- In January, at Canada's request, a meeting of governments and industry focused on isotope security of supply will take place in Paris, France. This is a global issue which warrants a global response, and I will ensure that Canada plays a leadership role in the planned discussions;

- My colleague, the Minister of Health, and I have agreed that she will instruct her officials to assess alternative medical and diagnostic procedures that could alleviate demand for medical isotopes; and

- Finally, I have asked for an internal review of research that our Government has funded in the past year which examines alternative methods to conventional medical isotope production.

It must remain clear that the reactor at Chalk River continues to produce isotopes reliably. In fact, our Canadian reactor has been producing 40% more isotopes than its average for the past several months in order to help alleviate supply issues caused by the extended shutdown of a European reactor.

In addition, prior to required maintenance outages, AECL produces additional isotopes within the reactor, allowing it to maintain delivery of isotopes to its customer, MDS Nordion throughout the outage period.

Ensuring the conditions for a reliable supply of medical isotopes in Canada continues to be a priority of our Government. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, Canada's medical community, and our global partners to further address this matter.

NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at

Contact Information

  • Office of the Hon. Lisa Raitt
    Minister of Natural Resources Canada
    Jasmine MacDonnell, Press Secretary
    613-943-0010 (FAX)