The pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of Canada’s healthcare systems and demonstrated the central role that the life sciences sector plays in health and economic well-being. It has also underlined the critical importance of building future resiliency based on a coherent approach to aligning cutting-edge research with the enhanced adoption of health innovations, an interoperable health data infrastructure, and a more robust and globally integrated manufacturing footprint and supply chains.
Building a resilient health and life sciences system can be achieved through public-private partnerships and a committed strategy inspired by a bold vision and alignment and shared purpose between all levels of government, industry, and universities.
To support this, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has partnered with public and private sector leaders to create a globally-competitive, integrated life sciences sector that spans the entire spectrum of activities from research through manufacturing to the commercialization of innovations. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the gaps we need to address but also highlights the extraordinary opportunity to position Canada as a global leader. Other nations with similar health systems are investing in life sciences strategies as an important driver of economic recovery and growth as well as public health emergency preparedness and security. Canada must not be left behind.
The ingredients needed to articulate and implement such a strategy are known. Canada must strengthen pandemic preparedness and health system resilience, promote improved health outcomes for Canadian patients, and foster a world-class life sciences ecosystem as a driver of jobs and growth.
Fostering a robust domestic life sciences industry will also require leadership and buy-in will at the highest political levels, policy integration across ministries, collaboration and integration across Federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions and sufficient scale for global competitiveness.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its members are committed to making recommendations on a Canadian life sciences policy and its implementation to ensure that Canada’s economy is more resilient in the face of future health threats. To this end, the life sciences sector becomes a vibrant ecosystem that will unleash the full potential of this strategic sector, improve outcomes for Canadians and be prepared for future health crises.
Launched in early 2022, the Council draws upon a diverse and inclusive group of public and private sector leaders to advance policy solutions in support of a globally competitive life sciences sector. In particular, the Council has worked to leverage and help implement the Federal Government’s 2021 Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy (BLSS), making progress on both short and long-term issues.
The Life Sciences Strategy Council is continuing work throughout 2023 to support knowledge sharing, networking, research and advocacy aimed at bolstering Canada’s standing as a world-class, secure and sustainable life sciences ecosystem. The Council will inform life sciences policy through continuous engagement, research, and thought leadership.
For more information on the Life Sciences Strategy Council, please contact Kathy Megyery, Senior Vice-President, General Manager, Quebec.
Strategic Imperatives and Tactical Recommendations
- Health Security: As health risks converge, be vigilant and more responsive, to enhance collaboration with global partners, and to be a leader with solutions for future and emerging challenges.
- Increase Canadians access to world class innovations: Take the necessary steps to improve health outcomes for Canadians, supported by all levels of government.
- Clear commitment to a shared, “team Canada” vision for the sector: Be clear about what we want to achieve (and why) for our health and our economy.
- More than manufacturing: Pursue public-private partnerships that can contribute to domestic capacity towards: (1) Research (2) Commercialization (3) Manufacturing and Supply Chain resilience (4) Delivery of Care.
- Enhance Canada’s global position: Secure and expand our role in global R&D, commercialization/launches, supply chains while improving health system performance on key indicators.
- Develop Canada’s digital infrastructure: Government should define and financially support Canada’s aspirationsrelated to digital infrastructure to enable the development and timely introduction of innovative products and systems into Canada.
- Create an organization in government with Deputy/Senior ADM level accountability for delivering on BLSS and developing BLSS 2.0, coordinating investments and policies (ie, health, economic development, procurement) and engaging stakeholders through a permanent table to ensure Canada’s effectively addresses current and future health security threats.
- Working with Provinces and Territories, identify and deploy supports needed to reduce the barriers to hiring highly skilled foreign talent while enhancing the system for foreign credential recognition and further enhance domestic skills development programs.
- Work with the sector to identify and pursue opportunities to integrate Canadian companies into global supply chains, targeting areas most relevant to national health security, and by pursuing an increased and diversified Canadian manufacturing footprint (local and global industry collaboration).
- Announce new innovation support programs in Budget 2023-24 that can vest in future years (i.e. renew existing envelopes plus new, more nimble streams as well as streams adapted for higher risk ventures) (2) Launch FPT collaboration on wider framework for improved and aligned business supports; (3) Establish an agile procurement implementation process to work with Canadian and multinational producers focused on piloting/deploying promising products and technologies to increase health system security.
- Focus on regulatory agility in relevant review processes (ahead of or under the new Canada Drug Agency) with a focus on adapted processes and engagement opportunities for patients and other stakeholders.
- Define Canada’s aspiration related to digital infrastructure to enable development and timely introduction of innovative products/systems into Canada; provide funds to support the digital health strategy and enable data-driven advances in health care, including the development and use of real-world evidence.
Life Sciences Strategy Council Co-Chairs
Lesia M. Babiak
Johnson & Johnson