The government said 28 February, that it will launch "a competitive procurement process," for the management of AECL’s Nuclear Laboratories in the coming months. It plans to use the services of financial and nuclear advisors as part of the process.

Natural Resources Canada is seeking to implement a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model, as is used in the United States and the United Kingdom.

"In doing so, the Government is demonstrating its commitment to fairness and the responsible use of taxpayers’ dollars," a statement said.

The move comes in an effort to "ensure the best possible management…by bring in private sector rigour and efficiency," Joe Oliver, Canada’s minister of Natural Resources said in a speech to 2013 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show.

Following the restructuring the Nuclear Labs will focus on three key objectives:

  • Managing its radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities;
  • Performing science and technology activities to meet core federal responsibilities and;
  • Supporting Canada’s nuclear industry through access to science and technology facilities and expertise on a commercial basis.

At this stage, it is unclear whether more long-term nuclear innovation work will continue. The government said that it is "still assessing the value of investing federal tax dollars in longer-term nuclear innovation," and that over the coming months it would assess the business case for a nuclear innovation-driven agenda.

The Nuclear Laboratories, comprised mainly of Chalk River Laboratories in Chalk River, Ontario, and Whiteshell Laboratories in Pinawa, Manitoba, are responsible for nuclear science and technology priorities for safety, security, health, the environment, waste management and clean energy technologies, as well as the production of medical isotopes.