Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — Change is Coming

Pending Federal Changes to Address Antimicrobial Resistance

The increase of antimicrobial resistance is a global concern and its effects on human and animal health have been raised by experts at local, national and international levels.

The federal government is working to control antimicrobial resistance and promote improved antimicrobial stewardship in both humans and animals. Health Canada has announced how it is taking action to help reduce the use of antimicrobials in animals and enhance veterinary oversight: 

Growth promotion claims will be removed from all veterinary products containing antimicrobials that are important to human medicine by December 2018.

Enhancement of veterinary oversight by moving all antimicrobials that are important to human medicine to the Prescription Drug List. A veterinary prescription will be required for purchase of these products by December 2018. This means that producers (including beekeepers) will no longer be able to purchase them over-the-counter at Livestock Medicines Outlets. They will need to have a relationship with a veterinarian, obtain a veterinary prescription and purchase these products via a veterinarian or pharmacist. Antimicrobials will still be available at feed mills in mixed feed with a prescription. Producers should discuss delivery options with their veterinarian if there are concerns about distance or timely treatment. 

Products containing the following active ingredients will require a prescription:

  • Apramycin
  • Bacitracin
  • Erythromycin
  • Lincomycin
  • Neomycin
  • Penicillin G
  • Spectinomycin
  • Streptomycin/Dihydrostreptomycin    
  • Sulphonamides
  • Tetracycline/Chlortetracycline/Oxy tetracycline
  • Tilmicosin
  • Tiamulin
  • Tylosin/Tylvalosin
  • Virginiamycin
  • Or their salts or derivatives
Ionophore products and coccidiostats will NOT be affected by this change.

Approvals and access to low-risk veterinary health products such as ‘nutraceuticals’ will be improved to give producers greater access to a broader range of products for animal health and welfare by November 2017.

“Own Use Importation” of products containing antimicrobials that are important to human medicine will no longer be permitted by November 2017. National producer organizations will be consulted on products that would be exempt, but no products containing antimicrobials will be eligible for exemption.

Active pharmaceutical ingredients/drug components will only be available to import by those licensed to compound drugs by May 2018. Producers will no longer be able to import active ingredients to mix on farm.

Reporting of veterinary antimicrobial sales will be mandatory from manufacturers, importers and compounders of veterinary antimicrobials beginning with sales year 2018.

For more information about changes to federal policy and the regulations related to antimicrobial use and resistance, please visit:

Government of Canada’s response to antimicrobial resistance

To comment on the switch for Medically Important Antimicrobials to the Prescription Drug List by September 18, 2017, please visit:

Notice of Consultation – Prescription Drug List Veterinary and Human Antimicrobials

To review OMAFRA’s evolving approach to complement federal changes to address antimicrobial resistance, please visit: Antimicrobial Resistance in Agriculture