Canada’s medical technology sector is one of the finest in the world. With more than 35,000 men and women working in the industry and over 2,000 companies operating in the nation, Canada’s medtech market is the eighth largest globally, representing a total Canadian market value of $7.8 billion and growing.
Although competition is fierce within the industry, this sector is reaping the rewards of coming together to advance its interests in the interests of all Canadians through an active national medtech association.
With a history going back 50 years, Medtech Canada is the sole national trade association in the country focusing exclusively on the medical technology industry. Governed by a board of directors representing the unique perspectives of members nationwide, Medtech Canada represents about 120 medtech companies, from small and medium-sized Canadian-owned businesses to multinationals.
Working closely with various levels of government, health professionals, patients, and stakeholders “to deliver a patient-centred, safe, accessible, innovative, and sustainable, universal healthcare system supported using medical technology,” according to the association, Medtech Canada’s mission remains steady: developing and advancing the country’s dynamic medical technology industry.
When it was created in 1973, Medtech was originally called the Canadian Association of Manufacturers of Medical Devices (CAMMD).
“It was founded primarily to engage with the Canadian government on matters relating to the regulatory environment for medical devices,” says Gerry Frenette, Vice President of Public and Member Relations. “It was beneficial for the government and industry to be able to engage through a single body, and the association was born out of that.”
From 1987 to 2019, the Association was called MEDEC (Medical Devices Canada). In 2019, it was rebranded as Medtech Canada, “a brand identity that better reflects the evolving nature of the industry, including the growing digital health offerings from the industry,” says Frenette.
Although regulatory affairs remain an integral focus of the Association to this day—especially engagement with Health Canada—Medtech’s mandate expanded, with the Association striving on behalf of the industry “to optimize the environment in Canada for medical device / technology adoption and the growth of the industry in Canada.”
With five membership categories—full members, allied members, associate members, emerging medical technology (EMT) and honorary members—it makes sense for anyone associated with the industry to join Medtech Canada.
All membership levels (full, allied, associate, and emerging technology) receive weekly e-Pulse bulletins with valuable news and information on important industry issues, stakeholders, advocacy and other industry information, along with member savings programs, business solutions, discounts on Medtech Canada educational seminars and conferences, and much more.
Many of Medtech’s Canadian members and multinational member companies have manufacturing facilities in Canada, making every conceivable product used in the delivery of healthcare. These include pacemakers, MRIs, glucose monitors, wound care products and orthopaedic implants, to name a few.
“In addition to our medical technology company members, we also have membership categories for allied business members, which are companies that provide services to the medical technology industry, and associate members, composed of organizations that are partners to our association,” says Frenette.
Medtech’s mission is “to develop and advance Canada’s innovative medical technology industry.” Some of the many ways the Association speaks for the industry are through advocacy, regulatory affairs, education and information, and Medtech Canada committees.
By working closely with its many members through committees, Medtech learns their needs, develops positions, and promotes their interests to federal and provincial governments, health care organizations, and other stakeholders across Canada.
“We’re an advocacy association which allows members to get involved in improving the environment for the adoption of medical technologies in Canada and ensuring the business environment is conducive to a vibrant industry through engagement in areas such as regulatory and supply chain,” says Frenette.
“Medtech Canada’s staff, often in concert with our members, regularly engages with government officials to ensure that government policies and investment are taking advantage of the benefits offered by medical device technologies to ensure the health of Canadians, create health system efficiencies, and grow this sector that provides meaningful employment to thousands of Canadians.”
Medtech has addressed and provided advice for some of the regulatory issues about the nation’s medical device regulations. These include medical device funding and reimbursement, the performance of the therapeutic products directorate, and other areas.
“We pride ourselves on taking a highly collaborative approach when we engage with government,” says Frenette, “aligning many of our initiatives to help achieve the goals they’re seeking to achieve.”
Through whitepapers, position papers, and government submissions, Medtech Canada informs others about information essential to the medical technology industry in its Whitepapers, Position Papers & Government Submission section (medtechcanada.org/our-work/whitepapers-position-papers-government-submissions.html).
The past few months have seen pre-budget submissions made to Alberta, Ontario, and other provinces, along with position papers and white papers including Innovation and Medical Technology Adoption to Address Medical Services and Surgical Backlogs in Canada, Wound Care in Ontario – Call for Collaborative Action, Addressing the Global Supply Chain and Shipping Crisis, and other important subjects.
Medtech Canada’s advocacy efforts are wide-ranging, with the association working on multiple fronts. On the supply chain side, according to Frenette, Medtech continues advocating that healthcare purchasers allow for increased flexibility in contracts with medical device companies to allow for situations where manufacturers are facing significant cost increases. “We’re pleased that some purchasers have now done this,” he says, “but there’s more that can be done.”
Medtech keeps pressing for increased data from healthcare systems across Canada, which would allow medical device companies to better plan for surgical and procedural volumes. “This is crucial for our members to be able to ensure that the Canadian healthcare system will have the necessary products to enable the delivery of care,” he says.
“We’re optimistic that the recently announced 10-year funding deal between the federal government and the provinces will address this, given that the deal includes a data transparency element.”
Medtech continues to advocate that procurement in Canada be improved. This would shift purchasing away from a disproportionate focus on the lowest price to focusing on the broader value a technology brings to patients and the health care system (value-based procurement).
“Our industry provides immense opportunities to make healthcare systems more efficient and reduce burdens on a strained Canadian healthcare workforce and we’ve highlighted examples through a microsite at www.medtechinnovation.ca/medtechsolutions.”
All industries faced shortages and supply chain issues during the COVID-19 crisis, including members of Medtech Canada.
In the early days of COVID, governments and healthcare systems across the nation were woefully unprepared with regard to stockpiles of necessary pandemic-related products. Nations, including Canada, were competing with other countries for products in short supply. Still, companies and governments alike quickly mobilized and worked together to address these challenges.
“Domestic medical device manufacturers increased their production or adapted their product lines and multinationals brought pandemic product-related manufacturing to Canada—in many instances with the financial support of the government,” says Frenette.
“From a regulatory perspective, Health Canada showed tremendous nimbleness in adapting regulatory pathways for these products to help ensure sufficient supply.
“From Medtech Canada’s perspective, we worked tremendously hard to facilitate connections between companies and governments as they sought products. We helped convey information on regulatory matters, and acted to ensure that medical device company representatives had ongoing access to healthcare facilities to ensure that products were supplied and technical / clinical support was maintained.”
Today, three years after the start of the pandemic, global supply chain challenges and product shortages continue to affect the industry. Still, there is growing recognition of the vital importance of the sector, and Medtech Canada is pleased to be a part of a product shortages group at the federal level seeking to address some of these issues, according to Frenette.
“We also welcome recent investments from the federal government in transportation infrastructure to help address some of these challenges,” he adds.
To increase awareness, Medtech Canada both participates in and hosts regional events across the nation—often in partnership with its regional life science association partners—along with hosting educational webinars throughout the year, some of them open to non-members. The Association will also host its annual Medtech Conference (May 11 in the Greater Toronto Area), and a Regulatory and Quality Medtech Conference this fall.
This year marks Medtech’s 50th