McGill University and its Affiliated Hospital Research Institutions (RI) are committed to the protection of animal subjects involved in teaching and research. In support of this commitment and the obligation to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), the Quality Assistance Program (QAP) was established in 2009, with the primary goal of ensuring animal welfare and assuring the integrity of the Animal Care and Use Program.
The aim of the QA Program is to work in collaboration with, and in support of research and teaching staff members as a collegial approach to achieving regulatory compliance. It serves to review procedures, educate researchers on best practices and facilitate the scientific needs of the researcher. In addition to animal welfare, the QAP also encompasses safe work practices, animal importation, biosafety, as well as controlled substance regulations.
New CCAC requirement to report all major incidents of animal welfare or non-compliance within 10 days of its occurrence
The report is sent by the Facility Animal Care Committee (FACC) Chair and copied to the VP (Research and Innovation). A major animal welfare incident refers to an event that leads to the unanticipated death of research, teaching and testing animals, or poses an immediate and significant threat to animal health or welfare. A major incident can refer to a:
- catastrophic failure of critical life support system(s) that leads to the death of research, teaching or testing animals, or poses a significant threat to animal health or welfare;
- disregard of, or unintended failure to follow, practices or procedures that leads to the death of research, teaching or testing animals, or poses a significant threat to animal health or welfare;
- significant and unanticipated morbidity or mortality unrelated to the above; or;
- serious or continuous noncompliance with CCAC standards that leads to the suspension by the animal care committee or the institution of an animal-based activity that threatens animal health or welfare.
Please ensure that all major incidents are immediately reported to the Veterinarian and/or FACC Chair as well as remind your research/teaching team members of the importance of following the approved animal protocol and applicable SOPs as well as report to the appropriate person all major incidents promptly.
For more information, consult the CCAC's item 4 in the Frequently Asked Questions of their policy on Certification of Animal Ethics and Care Programs.
- Ensure animal well-being.
- Ensure adherence to the Animal Use Protocol.
- Ensure compliance with McGill and CCAC regulations, policies and guidelines.
- Serve as a resource for the research and teaching community.
- Identify educational and training needs.
- Identify strengths and needs for refinement within McGill’s Animal Care and Use Program.
- Keep the Facility Animal Care Committees informed of animal-based activities.
The Quality Assistance Subcommittee of the University Animal Care Committee convenes at least twice annually or as needed to share processes and knowledge among QAAs* and other key members.
Reports on trends are submitted to the University Animal Care Committee. The UACC will refine processes, revise or create guidelines and policies within its Animal Care and Use Program when applicable and in view of being proactive in preventing non-compliance.
For more details, see the Quality Assistance Subcommittee Terms of Reference.
*Quality Assistance Advisor is used as a generic reference to define the person mandated for post-approval monitoring in the McGill University and Affiliated Hospitals Research Institutes and does not reflect the actual position title.
The QAP assists the Facility Animal Care Committees (FACC) with its obligation to provide oversight of animal care and use as required by CCAC regulations. It is driven by Quality Assistance Advisors (QAAs)*, a team of qualified professionals dispersed throughout the various McGill and Affiliated Hospitals Research Institutes. The QAAs serve to review all animal-based activities, identify risks and report observations and concerns to the FACC. Suitable corrective action plans to manage any identified risks are communicated to the researcher and their implementation is ensured by the QAAs*.
Specific to McGill University campuses, Downtown and Macdonald, the 3 Facility Animal Care Committees have a Policy on Quality Assistance Program for McGill FACCs - Version 2 - Aug 2020 related to the implementation of the Quality Assistance Program. The timeline for the execution of corrective measures correspond to the classified risk level as defined in the Definitions of Recommendations for McGill Quality Assistance Program - Feb 2021.
Note that the affiliated Research Institutes may have a different terminology and associated timelines.
One crucial component of the Quality Assistance Program is to observe the methods employed by researchers as well as the conditions in which the animals are handled. This is challenging for protocols involving wildlife that take place in the field or overseas. Since the Quality Assistance Advisor (QAA) cannot go out in the field and conduct a traditional assessment, the Facility Animal Care Committee (FACC) will be requesting the submission of photos and/or videos, at full renewal, to illustrate the animal-based procedures, environment and equipment used (e.g. capturing, handling, restraint, holding areas, injections, etc.). The protocols/ studies will be identified and communicated by the QAA a few months prior to the submission of the full renewal in parallel to an assessment interview.
For McGill University *ONLY* If researchers, staff or students have concerns about the care and use of animals or are concerned about a procedural or ethical breach, please contact the animal.qa [at] mcgill.ca (subject: Concerns%20) (McGill Quality Assistance Advisor )- or - if want to remain anonymous, complete and submit the McGill “webform” (you will need to log into it using your McGill email and password but can remain anonymous once in it). All allegations will be discreetly investigated. For non-McGill University staff and students, please contact your local Quality Assistance Advisor (see coordinates in the section below).
Please refer to the Policy for Animal Welfare and Compliance Concerns for information on the responsibility and processes to report animal welfare concerns.
For additional information on the Quality Assistance Program and its processes, please visit the following related links or send your questions/comments to the appropriate Quality Assistance Advisor*.
McGill University, Downtown and Macdonald Campuses: animal.qa [at] mcgill.ca (Quality Assistance Advisor)
McGill University Health Centre Research Institute (RI-MUHC), Glen and MGH site: ard.qualityassistance [at] muhc.mcgill.ca (Compliance Administrator)
Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI): compliance.mni [at] mcgill.ca (Compliance Officer) For more information, please visit the MNI Web site
Douglas Mental Health University Institute: guylaine.gadoury.comtl [at] ssss.gouv.qc.ca (Douglas Quality Assistance Advisor)
Lady Davis Institute of the JGH: ychery [at] jgh.mcgill.ca (LDI-JGH Quality Assistance Advisor)
Shriners Hospital for Children: ard.qualityassistance [at] muhc.mcgill.ca (Shriners Quality Assistance Advisor)