The Paleo-DNA Laboratory is accredited under the following standards:
1. Standards Council of Canada CAN-P-4D and ISO/IEC 17025, the
Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories.
2. Standards Council of Canada CAN-P-1578, the Guidelines
for the Accreditation of Forensic Testing Laboratories.
View our Scope of Accreditation
Our Laboratory is also ASCLD compliant.
About the Standards Council of Canada
Council of Canada ("Council") is a crown corporation
established by an Act of the Canadian Federal Parliament in 1970
to foster and promote voluntary standardization in Canada. It is
independent of government in its policies and operations, although
it is financed partially by Parliamentary appropriation. The Council
consists of members from the government and private sectors.
The mandate of the Council is to promote the participation of Canadians
in voluntary standards activities, promote public-private sector
cooperation in relation to voluntary standardization in Canada,
coordinate and oversee the efforts of the persons and organizations
involved in the National Standards System, foster quality, performance
and technological innovation in Canadian goods and services through
standards-related activities, and develop standards-related strategies
and long-term objectives.
In essence, the Council promotes efficient and effective voluntary
standardization in Canada in order to advance the national economy,
support sustainable development, benefit the health, safety and
welfare of workers and the public, assist and protect consumers,
facilitate domestic and international trade and further international
cooperation in relation to standardization.” (SCC Guidelines
for The Accreditation of Forensic Testing Laboratories)
History of Forensic Accreditation in Canada
Forensic Science is the application of science to the law, without
distinction between civil and criminal proceedings. The Canadian
Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) is incorporated to promote the
study, raise the standards, and to enhance the status of forensic
science as a distinct discipline. In pursuit of these goals, in
March, 1994, the CSFS approved the formation of a committee to study
accreditation processes available to Canadian forensic laboratories
and identify the best means for them to become accredited. The SCC's
primary interest is to accredit laboratories that provide analytical
results of documented quality to the Canadian Courts of Law in both
criminal and civil proceedings. The assurance that a laboratory
adheres to recognized practices and standards can be achieved through
accreditation in the Program Specialty Area - Forensic Testing (PSAFT)
using the Guidelines for the Accreditation of Forensic Testing Laboratories
(CAN-P-1578), which can be applied to all types of testing performed
in Canadian forensic science laboratories. The ultimate goal of
an accreditation program is to enhance the reliability and the comparability
of test data generated from individual laboratories. The members
of this committee worked with the Standards Council of Canada (SCC)
to develop the following document as a framework for accreditation
of forensic laboratories within Canada under the auspices of the
Standards Council of Canada.
In September of 1994, the Canadian Department of Justice released
a consultation paper entitled "Obtaining and Banking DNA Forensic
Evidence". This document, which mentioned that the Canadian
government was investigating various aspects of forensic deoxyribonucleic
acid (DNA) analysis with a view to developing legislation, asked
the question "should forensic laboratories conducting DNA analysis
be accredited?" Despite its high profile, forensic DNA analysis
constitutes only one part of the broad field of forensic science;
most Canadian forensic laboratories are multidisciplinary in nature.
The CSFS accreditation committee strove to ensure that the guidelines
in the following document embraced the entire Canadian forensic
science community and that they were in place prior to passage of
legislation demanding accreditation. To ensure that they were complementary
with the legislation under consideration, the CSFS Accreditation
Committee augmented its membership with representatives from the
CSFS DNA Advisory Committee and the Department of Justice Working
Group on DNA Legislation.
How Forensic Laboratories are Classified
The services of forensic testing laboratories in Canada are generally
organized into the following divisions or sections: toxicology (drugs,
alcohol and poisons), firearms and tool mark identification, questioned
documents and counterfeit examinations, biology (serology and DNA),
and chemistry/trace evidence analysis.
These divisions of work are often referred to as forensic science
"specialty areas" or "disciplines." Within a
forensic testing laboratory, they may be organized as sections.
The activities of forensic testing laboratories generally take place
within the laboratory itself. There are, however, occasions when
attendance at a (crime) scene is necessary in order to best provide
the services required. In most instances, scene attendance and any
evidence recognition and collection are carried out by specially
trained personnel who also deal with other forms of evidence such
as fingerprints, footprints, and tire prints. These evidence types
may not be directly included in a Forensic Testing Laboratory.
How Canadian Standards Relate to International Standards
Rather than creating its own “stand-alone” standards,
the Standards Council of Canada designed its standards to harmonize
with and complement International Standards. The Standards Council
of Canada CAN-P-4D, "General Requirements for the Accreditation
of Calibration and Testing Laboratories", which is ISO
17025. In the development of these standards, the committee
relied on the International Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation
(ILAC) Forensic Working Group document.
(Click here to visit
the ISO website).
What Achieving Accreditation Entails
Accreditation requires on-site assessment of the laboratory and
continued participation in proficiency testing programs, where available.
The accreditation program is operated and managed by the SCC through
its Program for Accreditation of Laboratories - Canada (PALCAN).
PALCAN is operating in accordance with ISO/IEC Guide 58 Calibration
and Testing Laboratory Accreditation Systems - General Requirements
for Operation and Recognition.
What Accreditation Means
The Standards Council of Canada offers accreditation to laboratories
that undertake forensic testing. Forensic labs are involved in the
testing of physical evidence from potential crime scenes. In addition
to testing the evidence, forensic scientists often issue reports
and give expert court testimony on the test results obtained and
the conclusions that might be made based on this information.
To ensure that this evidence stands up to scrutiny in court, it
is imperative that the testing methods used by the laboratory have
proven and documented credibility. Accreditation provides an assurance
that a forensic laboratory has adhered to recognized practices and
Accreditation under the CAN-P-1578 program is the formal recognition
by the Standards Council of Canada of the competence of a forensic
testing laboratory to manage and perform this type of activity.
It is not a guarantee that test results will conform to standards
or agreements between a testing laboratory and its clients; business
transactions between an accredited testing laboratory and its clients
are legal matters between the two parties.