Letter to the Honourable Navdeep Bains regarding the protection of intellectual property

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
C.D. Howe Building 235 Queen Street
Ottawa, ON K1H 0H5

Dear Minister Bains,

On behalf of Montréal InVivo, BIOQuébec, Life Sciences Ontario and LifeSciences BC, we are writing to express our common vision of a diversified, knowledge-based Canadian economy with progressive public policies to support innovation. In particular, we wish to address the important role of Intellectual Property (IP) protection in our knowledge driven economy and express our concerns regarding the implementation of the IP provisions of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

By signing CETA, Canada committed to improve protections for IP rights holders. We believe that the proposed regulations need to follow the spirit of the negotiated CETA outcomes for Canada. For many of the members of the life sciences sector in Canada, this translates in regulations that effectively introduce a right of appeal for biopharmaceutical innovators and to provide a period of patent term restoration to compensate for delays in obtaining marketing approval. We also need that the proposed regulatory package provides the stability and predictability for business and investment that all stakeholders have been seeking throughout this process.

We are concerned by your Department’s imposition of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that aims to keep confidential all relevant consultative materials after almost two years, especially in light of the recent Royal Assent of Bill C-30. Despite the importance of CETA for our sector’s future competitiveness, very few of the members of our ecosystem have been privy to business-critical information about its implementation in Canada.

The details of these regulations are important. The confidential nature of the consultations is an impediment to our membership’s ability to prepare for and comply with the impending regulations in a timely and equitable manner. It is particularly unfortunate from our perspective that it will be the smaller and less-well represented members who will tend to be the least informed of the affected stakeholder groups.

In light of these concerns, we recommend that your offices act immediately to ensure appropriate due diligence around these consultations with the life science ecosystem. We propose that all stakeholders be provided with the reasonable opportunity to review and comment on the draft regulations through the normal consultation process of the Canada Gazette Part 1 or with a pre-Gazette Part 1 consultation. Only an open and transparent process will allow all stakeholders to assess and comment on the implications of the regulations.

As was emphasized by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk in her address to Departmental officials appearing before the May 4, 2017 Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and in her Committee’s official observations, it is crucial that the affected stakeholders be both heard and listened to during the drafting of CETA implementation regulations, as they are the ones who will be key to its implementation.

Considering Canada’s ambitions for a world-class, globally competitive life science component of its Innovation and Skills Strategy as stated in Budget 2017, and given the urgency of moving forward with implementing CETA, we would be grateful if your office could provide us with an update on the progress of these requests at your earliest convenience.


Frank Béraud, CEO of Montréal InVivo

Anie Perrault, Executive Director of BIOQuébec

Jason Field, CEO of Life Sciences Ontario

Lesley Esford, President of Life Sciences BC