Statement by the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources and the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health
The Government of Canada has been working to solve the critical shortage of medical isotopes caused by an extended shutdown at the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) research reactor in Chalk River. This shutdown has caused the delay or cancellation of certain medical procedures in Canada and abroad.
We understand and are concerned about the stress and worry that this situation is causing to patients and their loved ones.
The Government has been in constant contact with AECL and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to ensure that they work together to find a solution to this critical shortage. Resuming this production is an immediate priority for the Government of Canada and we are exploring all options at our disposal that would lead to such a resolution.
We have been working with our officials as well as national and international partners to identify alternative sources of supply in other countries; other isotopes that can be re-applied; and other diagnostic options which may be available.
We can report actions in the following areas:
Health Canada has initiated a data collection process which includes contacting 800 hospitals and clinics which will allow all of us to determine next steps that may be necessary to address the situation.
Government has asked both Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and the CNSC to continue to work together to develop a go-forward strategy such that AECL National Research Universal reactor can be safely restarted as quickly as possible. Government has confirmed that the parts and equipment required to complete the upgrade maintenance on the Chalk River facility has been expedited.
This is a situation that affects all Canadians and we are committed to working with our partners to bring it to a speedy resolution.