The Sidney Laboratory

Renewing the Sidney Centre for Plant Health

The Government of Canada is investing in the renewal of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) Sidney Laboratory (Centre for Plant Health) on Vancouver Island.

The Sidney Laboratory is located on the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, which include the W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip), the W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum),the SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout), the BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) and the MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat) First Nations.

About the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is a science-based regulator with a mandate to safeguard the food supply, protect the health of plants and animals, and support market access. The Agency relies on high-quality, timely and relevant science as the basis of its program design and regulatory decision-making. Scientific activities inform the Agency's understanding of risks, provide evidence for developing mitigation measures, and confirm the effectiveness of these measures.

CFIA scientific activities include laboratory testing, research, surveillance, test method development, risk assessments and expert scientific advice. Agency scientists maintain strong partnerships with universities, industry, and federal, provincial and international counterparts to effectively carry out the CFIA's mandate.

Sidney Laboratory building

The Sidney Laboratory, also known as the Centre for Plant Health, is Canada's only post-entry quarantine (PEQ), research and diagnostic facility for virus testing of all fruit-bearing trees, grapevines and small fruit (e.g. berries). PEQ facilities ensure the safe introduction of foreign plant material into Canada.

A renewal project at the Sidney Laboratory will build a new world-class plant health diagnostic and research facility that will provide CFIA scientists and partners with state-of-the-art amenities to advance plant science. Having the right tools is essential to help develop and partner on new ideas and opportunities to protect Canada's plant resources and to grow the agriculture and agri-food sector.

What we do


  • Pathogen testing of imported tree fruits, small fruits and grapevine (i.e. bacteria, virus and virus-like organisms).
  • Export certification for the trade of tree fruits, small fruits, and grapevine.
  • Elimination of virus infections from valuable fruit and grape varieties.
  • Maintenance of the national repository of Generation 1, virus-tested tree fruit and grapevine varieties for Canadian export certification and domestic distribution.
  • Support trade through participation on international panels to develop harmonized standards for the movement and testing of plant materials.

Plant-related research

  • Develop and validate methods for supporting quarantine and virus testing activities.
  • Validate and apply new technologies such as Next Generation Sequencing.
  • Identify and characterize new viruses and virus-like diseases.
  • Develop rapid, sensitive, molecular diagnostic tests to support the implementation of the Plant Protection Act.

Scientific techniques

Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)

  • ELISA determines the presence of a particular substance (e.g. food allergens, toxins, or pathogens) using antibodies that bind to specific target protein(s). A subsequent reaction producing a detectable signal such as colour change shows the presence of the target substance. The strength of the signal gives an indication of the amount present in the sample.

Polymerase Chain Reaction assay (PCR)

  • PCR is a technique that can detect a pathogen in a plant sample by targeting nucleic acid (e.g. DNA or RNA) that is specific to the pathogen of interest. It then amplifies the target until it is detectable. The presence of the amplified nucleic acid indicates the presence of the pathogen in the original sample.

Woody-host bioassays

  • Bioassay of a woody-host (i.e. plant that produces wood as its structural tissue) starts with an indicator plant that is disease-free and is then inoculated with a sample from a plant with an unknown health status. The indicator plant is then monitored for any symptoms of disease. If symptoms are observed, then the original plant that was used for the inoculation harbours a pathogen.

Herbaceous-host bioassays

  • Bioassay of an herbaceous (i.e. non- woody) disease-free indicator plant is inoculated with sap from a plant with an unknown health status. The indicator plant is then monitored for any symptoms of disease. If symptoms are observed, then the original plant that was used for the inoculation harbours a pathogen.

Quality management

All CFIA laboratories are accredited in accordance with the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) provides accreditation for routine testing, test method development and non-routine testing, as identified on the laboratory's Scope of Accreditation on the SCC website. Accreditation formally verifies the CFIA's competence to produce accurate and reliable results. The results are supported by the development, validation and implementation of scientific methods, conducted by highly qualified personnel, using reliable products, services, and equipment, in a quality controlled environment. Participation in international proficiency testing programs further demonstrates that our testing is comparable to laboratories across Canada and around the world.

Physical address

Sidney Laboratory (Centre for Plant Health)
8801 East Saanich Road
North Saanich, British Columbia
V8L 1H3

More information

Learn about other CFIA laboratories.