The PHO Public Health Laboratories (PHL) provide clinical and environmental laboratory testing, related expert advice and research in support of the prevention and control of infectious diseases and the protection and promotion of the public's health in Ontario. PHL provides these services in Ontario for Medical Officers of Health, all hospital and community laboratories, long term care facilities, clinicians in private practice and private citizens. Approximately 700 employees manage and operate 12 fully accredited medical laboratories throughout Ontario, including a central laboratory in Toronto and regional laboratories located in Windsor, London, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Orillia, Peterborough, Ottawa and Kingston. The PHL performs over 4 million laboratory tests annually. The majority are clinical tests for the diagnosis of infectious and communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, SARS, Legionnaire's, influenza and West Nile Virus infections. The PHL performs all the HIV and syphilis clinical testing in Ontario, and operates the largest diagnostic mycology laboratory in the country (one of the largest diagnostic mycology laboratories in the world) and one of the largest tuberculosis laboratories in North America.
The Laboratory Renewal Project is a multi-year project to strengthen and enhance PHO public health laboratories. The project will refine and modernize test menus, improve test turnaround times, continue to meet evolving public health needs, and add value through the clinical and epidemiological interpretation of test results. This initiative continues the modernization and renewal work initiated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care prior to the transfer of the public health laboratories to PHO in December 2008. Its goals are to:
- transition the public health laboratories from a data producer to a trusted and respected knowledge producer that supports more informed decisions and actions in public health
- allow Ontario to undertake advanced analysis, research and surveillance activities and to innovate
- improve Ontario’s surge capacity so that we can better deal with outbreaks
- help Ontario to continue to respond to emerging public health needs