Thank you very much, and good afternoon. My name is Peter Singer. I'm a professor of medicine at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health at the University Health Network and University of Toronto. I'm speaking as an individual.
I became involved in biosecurity in 2003 when I joined the committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which released a report on globalization biosecurity and the future of the life sciences. I've been a member of the biological threat reduction project of the Center for Strategic and International Security in Washington. I'm currently an advisor to the UN Secretary General's office on the Secretary General's biotechnology initiative.
In January 2009 I wrote an editorial in The Globe and Mail entitled “Is Canada ready for bioterrorism?” In short, my answer was that I'm not sure. In contrast to at least five independent committees that studied that question in the U.S., there's been no comprehensive independent assessment of that question in Canada to my knowledge.
Bill C-11, the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, does make us more secure, which is why I support this legislation. In these remarks I wish to make two points related to the act, leading to specific recommendations.
First, the act will succeed in making us more secure only if it's implemented in close partnership with the scientists whom it regulates. I want to pick up from some of your discussions on Tuesday, when you delved into this area.
Secondly, the act is only a part of the web of protection needed to make Canada more secure and prepared for bioterrorism, especially when it comes to next-generation threats.
In making these points I think it's very helpful to emphasize how different biosecurity is from nuclear security. Nuclear security has a single choke point, namely the control of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Nuclear security is achieved by keeping secret the means of producing these weapons-grade materials. The technologies are capital intensive, require state support, and if you control the highly enriched uranium and plutonium, you get nuclear security.
Not so with biosecurity. Pathogens are ubiquitous, knowledge is freely disseminated, technology is not capital intensive. Non-state actors, therefore, are a key issue. In short, the cooperation of scientists and a web of protection is needed to gain true biosecurity.
I want to elaborate on those points.
The first point has to do with implementation in close partnership with scientists. The act must be implemented in close partnership with scientists. As you discussed previously, the social well-being and economic prosperity of Canada will depend on scientific discovery. Imagine if a regulatory regime got in the way of Banting and Best's discovery of insulin, or the commercial production of insulin in bacteria, the insulin that's used by all of Canada's patients with diabetes.
I think the proposed act does strike a reasonable balance between scientific openness and the mitigation of risk, but this calculus will play out initially in the regulations, and it will need constant attention and rebalancing that can be done only through ongoing dialogue with the scientific community.
Because biosecurity does not equal pathogen security, what this act does do is really raise the barriers to those who would seek to misuse pathogens. It lowers the background noise of what's happening in laboratories so the signal of aberrant activity can stand out better. But we also need the help of the thousands of scientists in those laboratories, very few of whom, if any, intend to misuse human pathogens, to make sure that 99.99% constitute a network of vigilance to bring that signal to the attention of authorities. Because biosecurity is achieved by winning the scientists' hearts and minds, not through legislative compulsion but by fostering a scientific culture of awareness and responsibility, it's extremely important to have them on side.
I've reached out to a university, a provincial health prevention agency, and an industry association to ascertain whether they feel they've been consulted in the process of developing this legislation. I was pleased to hear a generally favourable response, but the important question, which was raised in your committee on Tuesday, is how to ensure that dialogue continues. This leads me to my first recommendation, which is that the committee recommend the creation of an external advisory group to the minister consisting of representatives of universities, provincial public health agencies, private industry, and others--possibly CIHR--to ensure that the regulations and the subsequent implementation of the act beyond that two years of regulation work proceed with the input and the support of the scientists they regulate.
I think I emphasized in these comments why that's needed even more with respect to an act around pathogen security than it would be with respect to many other acts in terms of implementation.
The second area and the second point I want to make is about the web of protection and next-generation threats. Biosecurity has several moving parts, which all need to work well, and they need to work together. There are the military aspects of biodefence, regulated by the biological weapons convention, and in the non-military area, there's law enforcement intelligence and national security, where there probably is a need for better interaction between those communities and non-governmental communities than there currently is. There's the public health response, which is really the final common pathway of defence. Unfortunately, we had a dress rehearsal with SARS, but for that reason, I think it's likely we're reasonably well prepared in the public health domain. There are the pathogen security and laboratory biosecurity and biosafety issues, the focus of this bill. We need that; that's why I support it. See remarks about implementation above.
But the one piece that hasn't really been attended to, and the one I'd like to focus on, is the idea of next-generation threats. This is about how life sciences can create new and far more serious threats, and I'd like to discuss it and suggest a way to deal with that.
Tomorrow's threats are not going to be the pathogens and toxins in the schedules of this act. A key recommendation of the report of the U.S. National Academy, which I was on, was to adopt a broader perspective of the threat spectrum. We highlighted how terrorists could use techniques like DNA shuffling or synthetic biology to design bacteria resistant to antibiotics. A procedure called RNA interference could be used to switch off genes that protect us from cancer. Systems biology could identify ways to disrupt the body's immune system, making us vulnerable to infection or to wipe out memory. Nanotechnology could figure out better ways to deliver bioweapons, which is actually the Holy Grail of bioterrorism. There's a whole spectrum of next-generation threats, not necessarily only pathogen-related, that need a focus.
At the same time, our committee recommended we maintain, to the maximum extent possible, free exchange of information in the life sciences, because the bioterrorists win without launching a single attack if we choke off these future advancements. Open science is also important to the development of countermeasures. This balance means making sure universities and companies promote a common culture of awareness, a shared sense of responsibility to prevent misuse within the community of their scientists—another recommendation of our National Academy committee. This is done using codes of ethics, teaching role modelling—also not a particular focus of the biosecurity agenda in Canada yet.
An earlier National Academy committee issued a 2004 report entitled Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism, identifying, for instance, experiments of concern, like showing how to render vaccines ineffective, or turning non-pathogens—which aren't anywhere on your schedules—into pathogens. We need to make sure medical journals and granting agencies are sensitive to these matters and have processes for dealing with them.
Also, these threats change extremely quickly with the progress of science, so that our National Academy committee recommended creating by statute an independent science and technology advisory group to the intelligence community. To my knowledge, there is no group in Canada attending to these next-generation threats in a comprehensive, systematic way, the way I've seen in the communities in the United States, or attending to how the working parts that I mentioned form a web of protection together and how those various communities work together. If there's one thing I've learned, how those pieces work together is at least as important as the individual pieces, not just the coordination within government, which you talked about on Tuesday, which is also important, but the relationship between the government communities and the non-government communities in the universities, the private sector, etc.
In my Globe and Mail piece, I proposed that the federal government request an assessment of the question of whether Canada is ready for bioterrorism from the Council of Canadian Academies, working with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Canadian Academy of Engineering—the top academics in the country. These national academies of scientists were created, and in the case of the Council of Canadian Academies, funded to conduct just such an assessment. The mandate of such a study, which could complement the pathogen security focus in this act, would be to evaluate whether Canada is prepared for bioterrorism, with an emphasis on next-generation threats and the overall web of protection about how these pieces move together.
I won't go through in detail the specific questions that such a mandate might include, but I could do that in the discussion period.
To take a couple of examples, what is the nature of the threat, including the next-generation threats? How well do the pieces work together to form a web of protection? Do we have the capacity in Canada, outside of the government, to engage in these biosecurity issues? Is the public adequately involved in biosecurity issues? It's questions like those.
In closing, I would like to propose my second recommendation, which is that the committee recommend to the minister that PHAC request from the Council of Canadian Academies, working with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Canadian Academy of Engineering, a study to evaluate whether Canada is prepared for bioterrorism, with special emphasis on these next-generation threats and the web of protection--how the various pieces and communities work together. That is really what leads to biosecurity, not just the control of the pathogens.
It's a good act, but we don't want to have a false sense of security around the act. We want to look at biosecurity, generally.
I want to thank you very much for your attention. It's been my honour to address you, and I look forward to your comments and questions.
My name is Marc Ouellette and I work at the Infectious Diseases Research Centre at Laval University. I hold a Canada Research Chair in resistance to anti-microbial agents, which my colleague has just talked about. We can treat micro-organisms, whether they be viruses, parasites or bacteria, but they are all becoming resistant to anti-microbial agents, and that is one of my specialities.
One of the reasons why I am pleased to be here today—my thanks to the committee—is that I was the academic representative who contributed to the drafting of guidelines for biosafety. This is the archetype document that researchers in Canadian universities must abide by when they import or export human pathogens. I know the topic quite well. We were consulted extensively when the document was being drawn up.
Each university in Canada has a biosafety committee. Having the approval of those biosafety committees is an indispensable condition for obtaining research funds. I am on the Université Laval's committee. I will come back to that later. But I am going to speak today as an individual and especially as a frequent importer and exporter of Risk Group 2 pathogens.
I am on page 2 of the document you have before you.
I would like to acknowledge the people who invited me here. It has actually been quite enlightening to read Bill C-11, and even more enlightening to read the transcript of the debate that the MPs had about Bill C-11. I was quite amazed. The quality of the interventions was wonderful. There was a very good understanding of what was going on, and that was very useful for me.
We were informed by PHAC but we were never consulted by PHAC, whereas when this was written we were consulted and then the writing happened. Bill C-11 arrived from almost nowhere, and we were fairly surprised. The research community, as a whole, was actually very surprised by the predecessor, Bill C-54. We were caught by Bill C-54, but now I am quite happy to see that there is consultation. Now I am here at the Standing Committee on Health in the House of Commons to discuss biosecurity and I thank you.
The first message I want to convey is that biosecurity matters, at least within all of the universities in Canada. I'll give you a few examples. First of all, there are three national agencies that fund research. There is CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC, which is for social sciences and doesn't work that much with micro-organisms--the only one is probably a virus they have in their computers, but the bill is not directed at that.
When we write a proposal for NSERC and CIHR, we have to pick a box about the biocontainment of the organism we have. We say yes, it's level 2, level 3, or level 4. Level 1 is actually the usual, and I'll come back to that, but level 2, let's say, is frequent. By good luck we get the grant. It is a 20% success rate, so we're not always a winner, but when we get it, we now have to get the institutional okay. Every university has its own committee looking at the grant and saying if it is level 2 or level 3, and only then, when you have the okay of the committee, can you get the funds. There is already a structure in place to look at that.
Now you have the money. Now you can start doing some work. So you want to import pathogens that you don't have in your lab. The first thing you have to do is work on a permit from the Public Health Agency, PHAC. This is what we have to fill out to get the okay from the Public Health Agency of Canada. I can provide this to the committee in both languages. Almost every human pathogen is also a pathogen of animals, and CFIA is also interested in that, so we also have to file for a permit from CFIA. This is the permit, and this is the extra paper we have to write. This is the real paper because French and English are on the same form.
Once we have that, it's often a dialogue. They will say, we are missing that piece of information, we are missing this protocol. What I'm saying is you cannot just get a pathogen like this. You have to go through paperwork to be able to do that, and once you have it, then you get your organisms. But now the people who work with this organism need training. The students, the personnel, have to be trained to be able to work with this, and it is the institution that is also responsible for that.
The message I want to convey is that the importation and manipulation of human pathogens is already under competent administrative scrutiny. Now, of course, we're all in favour of increasing the strategy to increase public health, for sure--nobody can be against that--but it is to find the best strategy to be able to have a dialogue, and with that I totally agree, between the legislators, the civil servants, the national agencies, and the people who are doing that on a day-to-day basis.
On the third page there are some comments.
One of the problems with this document, Bill C-11, which, incidentally, is very well done, is that Level 1 micro-organisms are not even mentioned. Level 1 are those that pose no threat to humans, except in huge quantities, but the quantity of micro-organisms is another factor. E. coli, for example, is one of those Level 1 micro-organisms. Everyone has heard of Escherichia coli. In the list, it appears as a Level 2 pathogen, but the biology laboratories in Canada that work with E. coli, who take pieces of a gene and put them somewhere else, are all working with non-pathogenic E. coli.
So, we must be very careful because, with E. coli, or any of the micro-organisms shown here, there are kinds that are pathogens and kinds that are not. It would complicate research enormously if there were no distinction between pathogenic forms of E. coli and the other forms.
Believe me, I sit on a number of committees, and everyone in Canada is worried and wondering if the things we have done for years and years are going to become a problem eventually.
One of the unique features of the bill is that there are Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 pathogens. The bill makes no distinction between them, but the risks for the community from Level 2 are virtually nil. Level 2 organisms must not be considered in the same way as Levels 3 and 4. So, as to security clearance, I feel that those working with Level 2 pathogens should not be required to have a security check.
All university laboratories are Level 2. Professors' offices are laboratories. So how would students wanting to see their professors go about it if they had to have a security check first? These are things we have to think seriously about.
Six pages of this document deal with the role of the inspector, a position that does not presently exist. This individual (or more than one) will have a lot of power. We will need to see how we can limit that power to prevent an abuse of power, to prevent the person going on a power trip and end up hurting...
First of all, I'd like to thank the committee for allowing me this opportunity to give some feedback on the bill. What I'm really going to be talking about is what's written in the bill here and my interpretation of it.
Just to give you a bit of background, I'm the chairman of the department of microbiology at McGill University. I teach microbiology and immunology, but more important for this committee, I also do research, and I practise microbiology and immunology. My research has contributed to over 90 publications. I also sit on advisory committees for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the National Institutes of Health, in the United States; the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, in the United States; the World Health Organization, in Geneva; the United Nations; and Médecins Sans Frontières.
I have sat on these committees to deal with infectious diseases and microbiology over the years, and I continue to sit. So I feel competent in addressing the people here concerning this bill.
Like the Public Health Agency of Canada and the people on this committee, my concern is for health and the protection of people from infectious diseases. Because of that, I am largely in agreement with this bill, but there are some modifications that have to be made before it is passed. So I am only going to focus on that aspect and give you my reasons for that. I'm not being overly negative. I just want to focus on what needs to be changed.
The best thing to do to change this bill is to remove level 2 pathogens from this bill. They should not be linked. This is the same point Marc just made. Level 2 pathogens should not be linked with level 3 and level 4 pathogens.
Let me explain. Level 2 pathogens generally pose a low risk to public health. They are unlikely to cause serious disease, and the risk of spread is low. Completely different are level 3 and level 4 pathogens, which pose a high risk and are likely to cause serious disease. The risk of spread for level 4 pathogens is high. Therefore, the way you work with these pathogens is very different.
With level 2 pathogens, you work one way. You work with a biological safety cabinet, in which air can't get in or out, and you work with your hands like this. With level 3 and level 4 pathogens, you need a completely different infrastructure, which is a multi-million-dollar infrastructure, with a completely different negative pressure room and so forth.
So to work with these pathogens, you have to work under very different conditions. Therefore, the administrative and security levels also have to be different. This bill links them together. The administrative and security issues link level 2 and level 3 and level 4 together. That cannot work. You have to separate them just the way you separate working with these pathogens. You can't have them linked together. If you link them together, the consequences are enormous for this country.
For example, from a scientific point of view, a lot of research on level 3 and level 4 pathogens, the most dangerous pathogens, is actually performed using level 2 pathogens as a model system. For example, mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is passed through aerosol, is a pathogen that gets into the lungs, survives in the lungs, and causes tuberculosis. It's a fatal infection. Mycobacterium smegmatis is a very similar organism. It looks the same under the microscope. It has the same genes, or virtually the same. It has the same biochemical pathway. But it has evolved slightly differently to survive only in the soil, and there's very low risk of it infecting people. It is a level 2 pathogen because of its low risk of infecting people.
Drugs that kill mycobacterium smegmatis will also kill mycobacterium tuberculosis, so working with a level 2 pathogen reduces the risk and, as important, reduces the cost as well. So if this bill is passed the way it's written, it will link level 2 and level 3 together in an administrative way, and you'll lose that advantage. Working with the level 2 and level 3 pathogens will become equally administratively difficult and you will lose that ability, that advantage, of working on a level 2 pathogen.
That's a very important point to take away. Marc gave a very good overview of the administrative point of view, so I won't go into that. I'll just give one example. If I had a sample of mycobacterium smegmatis--a very safe organism to work with in a laboratory--and I gave it to my colleague next door, I couldn't do that with this bill. I would have to get a permit from Ottawa first, which would take an enormous amount of time.
I'm not sure if I understood correctly, but according to this bill, if I did do it, I would be criminally responsible and could be fined $250,000 and put in jail for three months. And that has really scared my colleagues across the country. My colleagues across the country have been calling me and asking me to clarify whether in fact this is what is true within the bill.
Another point is that Canada has to be able to compete globally on a scientific level. Something very good that's occurring in Montreal is that Merck Pharmaceuticals, which is one of the major pharmaceutical companies in the world, has recently developed a very good vaccine against the human papilloma virus.
They're relocating their research in infectious disease from the United States to the facility in Montreal. This will be a multi-million-dollar research facility. They will have to be supported by Canadian science in microbiology and immunology. We will have to be able to train students and graduate students to be able to support a facility like this. I've spoken to them already, and they want to be able to work with McGill University, the University of Laval, and the University of Montreal, because they want that academic interaction.
The way Bill C-11 is written it will slow our ability to conduct this research and our ability to interact with companies like Merck. If Merck can't survive in Montreal because of the effect this bill could have on research in Canada, other companies may not come in. I think it will really hurt us economically as well as scientifically if our ability to interact scientifically is impaired.
Marc brought up the important point that we have to be able to teach our students. We have 350 undergraduate students in microbiology and immunology at McGill. We teach them how to use level 2 pathogens. The way this bill is written we couldn't teach them any longer. We would no longer be able to train the students because they wouldn't have the proper security clearance. That has to be changed within the bill.
Another point is that in Canada, most professors' offices are in the laboratory. If I give a lecture in the morning, a student could not come to ask me a question in my office because the office is in the laboratory and the student wouldn't have the proper clearance. That's a problem with the bill.
We have visiting scientists coming into McGill University every week, and we like to talk science with them. They would not be allowed in my laboratory. We couldn't actually get into the lab and discuss results there the way the bill is now.
I'd like to finish by saying something that I think is quite important that I'm quite passionate about. Doing research in Canada has been wonderful. The Canadian Institutes of Health is as good an institution as there is anywhere in the world. They funded my research on Leishmania for over 15 or 20 years.
Leishmania is a level 2 pathogen. It's transmitted by sand flies, so it can't cause disease in Canada, but it does cause disease in the developing world, particularly in Peru, where it causes a severe form of leprosy. With the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research we've developed new treatments for this infection. We've taken it from the laboratory and we're now doing clinical trials in Peru. We're able to actually treat people before they get that form of leprosy. This is supported by the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières. It's because of the wonderful research environment we've had in this country that we can actually do this kind of research.
I can honestly say that if Bill C-11 had been passed the way it's written here to include pathogen level 2 organisms, we would not have been able to make that progress. We would not have been able to make those contributions and compete on an international level.
I think there are many positive things about this bill, but the thing that worries the Canadian scientific group is that linking level 2 pathogens with level 3 and level 4 pathogens is a mistake. It can be easily rectified by just removing level 2 pathogens and focusing on level 3 and level 4 pathogens. This should focus only on level 3 and level 4 pathogens. That's the message I'd like to put across today.
Thank you very much for your patience in listening to me.
Let me deal briefly with the coordination question, and then come back to the level 2 issue.
On coordination, I heard the question that I think you asked, and I heard Frank Plummer's response from Tuesday. It sounded to me like Frank Plummer presented a pretty good case for a lot of table-top exercises and coordination within the government.
My point is that coordination within the government is necessary, but it's not sufficient to achieve biosecurity. The governmental communities, the life science communities in the universities, and the private sector communities all need to be working together and on the same page.
When I was on this National Academy committee--and I'm not proposing this for Canada--it started with people talking about their conflicts of interest. These were all scientists like these guys, from Stanford, etc., and every single person went around and said, “I'm on the XYZ committee of the Defense Intelligence Agency.” There was real outside-of-government input into government. That's the sort of coordination or interaction I don't see in Canada. Maybe the Americans have taken that too far, but maybe there's a middle road.
So that's what I mean by how the pieces are working together, the web of protection. I think you need a detailed look at that, and I'm suggesting the Council of Canadian Academies can do that.
With respect to the issue of level 2, very briefly, I think what you're facing is this--and I don't want to do their job for them; they're doing such a great job themselves, the PHAC people, in their comments. But I'm sure they'll come and say, “Look, we've guaranteed to you that in our regulations, level 2 will be different. Most of the scenarios that Greg raised we'll deal with through regulations. They won't be a problem. We won't require security clearances for level 2.” And so on.
So I think the choices for this committee are.... On the one hand, do you say it's enough to leave it to regulations, the distinction between level 2 on the one hand and levels 3 and 4 on the other? At the other extreme is what these guys are saying, which is to take level 2 completely out of the bill. And I think you'll want to ask them what the harm of that would be.
In the middle, should you decide not to take either extreme, is exactly why I've proposed the advisory committee mechanism. Because that's a user committee that provides ongoing input at the level of the minister into implementation issues even beyond the regulatory period, where there are other mechanisms for input.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I want to thank the witnesses today, because you've certainly been thought provoking for the committee members, I can tell.
I do want to get you to elaborate a little bit more and also ask if you will be staying afterward, because we're having the officials come forward. As Dr. Singer mentioned, there may be some really good responses to the questions you brought up, and I'm looking forward to that.
But again, I want to look at the level 2 pathogens, how you suggested that perhaps we need to take them out entirely. I do see a little bit of a conflict here.
You were saying, Dr. Singer, that a good microbiologist, even with regular research, may be manipulating a pathogen that might start off as a level 2, but may become a level 3 or level 4, even. The lab that would be working on that may not be prepared to handle that type of scenario, and there are biosecurity issues.
I had a recent conversation with the nuclear people, and they were talking about the heavy water incident. With nuclear waste you can make dirty bombs, which are not as bad as a nuclear bomb, but there are different regulations for that.
Would you be able to comment on the balance part of it? I'll ask each of you to elaborate a little bit more, because this is a challenge we're facing here on committee.
Dr. Singer, could we start with you?
It's really important for committee members not to be trapped in metaphors, which is why I said what I said about nuclear. Nuclear security—real nuclear bombs, not dirty bombs, which are a little easier—are at one end of the spectrum. You can get nuclear security by controlling highly enriched uranium and plutonium. At the other end of the spectrum is cyber-crime. Some 12-year-old in your basement can do a lot of damage with a virus—it's so disseminated.
Close to cyber-crime, but a little bit closer to nuclear, you have chemical, and just to the left of chemical is about where biological sits. What I was really saying is, don't get trapped into the nuclear metaphor and think that just because you have pathogen security you have biosecurity. It's necessary, but not sufficient.
I thought that was really important for the committee to understand, because then you're not going to go to the nth degree on every last little thing in pathogen security. It won't get you to where you need to be anyway. You need the support of the scientists, because of the “needle in the haystack” problem, and you need to deal with the other issues, such as the life sciences outside of this bill.
So that's the spectrum.
In fact, the first recommendation from our National Academy committee was a broader perspective on the threat spectrum. Scientists who had lived in the United States with the select agent rules—the analog of these rules—for five years said stop being so pathogen-centric; don't only think of pathogens.
You must think of pathogens, but the extreme version of those guys wouldn't have any select agent rules at all. I disagree with that, especially when it comes to level 3 or level 4. But very clearly what they're saying is, don't be pathogen-centric alone; think about these other things. I was exaggerating a little, but not too much, about going from level 0 to level 3.
I wanted to give you that context, so that you're looking at that balance: you realize you're getting some stuff, but you're not solving the problem; hence the parallel process and the need to engage scientists.
Does that help as an elaboration?
Yes, and I think Canadians remember most the SARS virus, which has now been eliminated from the human population through a global effort.
In Beijing, China, the SARS virus came from infected laboratory workers who infected their family members. So if that type of situation isn't contained, the SARS virus could re-emerge in our population, and nobody wants to repeat that scenario.
That is something that luckily has not happened in Canada. But let me stress that after the elimination of SARS circulation in Canada, there are probably a number of laboratories that host the SARS virus. We would like to know which laboratories these are, but there's no formal, systematic mechanism to find that out. You can do surveys and things, but we have no authority to ask who possesses the SARS virus.
On another example, salmonella is a risk group 2 pathogen, but in Oregon it has been used to spike salad bars. Someone put salmonella in the salad bar, and that is an act of bioterrorism. Another example is the anthrax letters in the United States. But in the former Soviet Union there was a release of anthrax that not only affected lab workers but was distributed in a plume because of the winds, and it infected people outside the laboratory in the community itself.
So many of these agents are in the risk groups 3 and 4. They are the ones we worry about the most, but people can use salmonella, E. coli, or other viruses.
Another thing that people may know about is the polio virus. The polio virus is undergoing eradication. It has been eliminated from the Americas. As part of our responsibility to the World Health Organization--and we signed on to this--we should know where polio viruses are in Canada. Save trying to do some surveys, we have no authority or ability to actually figure this out. So we were not able to complete our reporting to the WHO to the extent we would have liked. We did the best we could, but this bill will allow us to really track who has the polio virus, the SARS virus, etc.