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LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services | Services | History | What LifeLabs Does | In the Community

LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services

LifeLabs is a Canadian company with over 40 years' experience working with physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers to deliver better outcomes in patient care.

Each year, LifeLabs provides more than 100 million laboratory tests to approximately 19 million patients in Canada from a base of more than 360 Patient Service Centres and 17 laboratories. In total the company employs more than 5,400.

Test results are used by physicians and other healthcare providers in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of disease and illness in patients.

Laboratory testing is integral to the healthcare system. Some reports have estimated that lab results constitute about 70% of a patient’s medical record, while up to 80% of all clinical treatment decisions are based on results from laboratory tests. The company's test results play a critical role in assessing individual patient needs and identifying the most effective course of action.


LifeLabs offers the following services:

  • A broad range of community laboratory tests
  • National access to highly specialized clinical tests
  • Laboratory testing and management for hospitals
  • Occupational health services for employers, insurers and government agencies
  • Collection and testing services in support of clinical studies

Community Diagnostic Laboratory Services

Together with its hospital and healthcare partners, LifeLabs operates the largest community-based patient service centre network in Canada. These labs serve the diagnostic testing needs of outpatients, homebound patients and patients in long term care facilities. The routine clinical tests performed in the labs are used to predict, diagnose, treat and monitor disease.

Specialized Clinical Laboratory Testing

LifeLabs is the largest provider of specialty laboratory testing services in Canada. Together with its partners, the company provides national access to specialized clinical tests that range from early detection of cancer to diagnosing allergies, from measuring testosterone to providing DNA parentage testing.

Hospital Lab Services

LifeLabs provides laboratory services within hospital and regional healthcare systems. The company collaborates with hospitals to enhance patient care through efficient and effective laboratory operations. It brings laboratory testing expertise, management experience and an objective business perspective to the hospital environment.

Backed by a team of experts in each of the laboratory disciplines, the company's Hospital Services Team has immediate access to broad-based resources. Its laboratory services support hospital administrators and medical staff in achieving and maintaining excellence in their laboratory services. LifeLabs offers:

  • A full range of routine testing for hospitals
  • Collection and transportation support
  • Day-to-day operations management
  • Pathology services
  • Patient Results On-line (PRO)
  • Point-of-Care Testing (POCT), and
  • Quality Assurance Program

Occupational Health Services

LifeLabs offers a range of occupational health services to meet today’s complex demands for employee health monitoring. Services are provided in:

○ Medical Surveillance

LifeLabs supports employer health and safety programs by providing clinical tests to monitor employee health and exposures to toxic or harmful substances, in accordance with local health and safety regulations.

The company’s service offering includes testing for exposure to arsenic, benzene, lead, mercury and vinyl chloride.

○ Drug and Alcohol Screening

LifeLabs provides drug and alcohol monitoring and testing services.

  • The company's highly-trained, certified technicians adhere to confidential chain-of-custody processes and can provide DOT and non-DOT sample collection, with collection done at patient service centres across Ontario and British Columbia and at third-party collection sites across Canada
  • Specimens are screened for adulterant compounds using state-of-the-art secondary testing methods, and specimen validity test results are reported to the Medical Review Officer for interpretation
  • All positive results are reviewed by a certified scientist and confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)

○ Employee Wellness

LifeLabs offers customized test panels corresponding to specific workplace demographics. Panels can include routine assessment, evaluation of cardiac health, hormone balance and risk of chronic disease.

Working with the client’s Occupational Health physician, the company can set up a customized diagnostic testing program and can provide on-site sessional collection services to minimize disruption to employee schedules.

Clinical Studies & Services

LifeLabs provides collection services and local and central laboratory testing services to the academic research community, to the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries, to medical device manufacturers and to contract research organizations. These services support individual Phase I through IV clinical trials and research needs. The main elements are:

○ Collection and Logistics Support

National specimen collection is done through LifeLabs' own community laboratory network and courier system. Shipments are tracked in real time and comply with all transportation and laboratory regulations, requirements and guidelines. Both domestic and international logistics management services are provided.

○ Project Management

With a dedicated project management team assigned to each project, LifeLabs works closely with clients or sponsors and sites to provide custom training services. Services include protocol-specific investigator training manuals, ongoing study monitoring and customized collection kits.

○ Testing and Reporting

LifeLabs provides a broad menu of routine and specialized tests. The clinical safety test menu includes biochemistry, coagulation, drugs of abuse screening, hematology, histopathology, microbiology, serology, urinalysis, diagnostic imaging, and electrocardiograms. Clients can receive reports via automated processes, fax, and/or printed documents. LifeLabs also provides Data Management Services with the ability to produce customized reports in a number of electronic formats through documented planning processes.

○ Quality

LifeLabs complies with the Standards Council of Canada's Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) principles and Good Clinical Practice (GCP).


LifeLabs' business was founded in 1969 by former IBM co-workers who saw an opportunity to provide business support to healthcare professionals. In 1973, the company expanded into laboratory services.

Over the years, the company has grown to become the largest provider of laboratory services in Canada, working closely with provincial governments and healthcare professionals to support the needs of patients across Canada, particularly in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Québec.

In 2007, the company was sold to Borealis Infrastructure, a global leader in infrastructure investing, with investments in energy, transportation and infrastructure, including long-term care facilities, hospitals, school buildings, pipelines, electrical power generation and distribution, bridges, tunnels, port operations, high-speed rail, and satellite communications.

In April 2013 the company acquired BC Biomedical Services Ltd. As a result of this acquisition, LifeLabs was able to serve British Columbia residents with a total of 125 patient service centres in addition to in-home and long-term patient care.

CML HealthCare Inc., a publicly-traded community laboratory services provider, was acquired by LifeLabs in October 2013. The acquisition greatly enhanced LifeLabs' coverage by adding CML HealthCare's extensive network of locations in Ontario. In late 2014 LifeLabs commenced the rebranding of CML HealthCare collection centres as LifeLabs patient service centres.

What LifeLabs Does

LifeLabs' goal is to provide caring, efficient, reliable and high quality services that contribute to advanced patient care throughout the testing process from collection to reporting. To achieve this goal, LifeLabs:

  • Provides cost-effective, convenient access to laboratory testing services
  • Builds a culture that is focused on delivering high quality and good service
  • Invests in and applyies new processes and new technologies
  • Collaborates with others to support continuously evolving patient needs

Supporting Access to Care

LifeLabs’ extensive infrastructure means patients and physicians can access its services quickly, conveniently and close to home — and receive their results just as quickly and conveniently.

With more than 5,400 professionally-trained staff members and an extensive network of courier services, collection centres, testing facilities and medical professionals, LifeLabs is able to provide local access to regional expertise in laboratory testing.

Patients and physicians in rural and remote areas are served through LifeLabs' physician pick-up and courier services. In fact, a large portion of the company's patients are served in rural communities. This ensures common access to a provincial testing capability.

LifeLabs also supports efforts to care for an aging population by providing mobile collection and testing services for long-term care, retirement and housebound patients. Through the company's “homecare” services, these patients receive the same access to lab testing as mobile patients without ever leaving home.

Most standard test results are available to physicians and caregivers within 24 hours of specimen collection, and by providing results electronically, they can access this information as soon as it is available.

In 2012, online booking services were instituted at LifeLabs patient service centres across the country. These services facilitate the work of physicians’ office staff, who can book lab test appointments and follow-up physician visits before patients leave the office.

A Focus on Quality

With an internationally experienced team, LifeLabs is enhancing business practices using LEAN to deliver greater value to its patients, physicians and other clients.

Medical quality is promoted by the company's team of medical scientific experts. This widely respected medical team guides the testing services provided by LifeLabs and provides consultation services to assist in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients.

In Ontario, LifeLabs was the first lab to be accredited under the Ontario Laboratory Accreditation (OLA) program. In British Columbia, LifeLabs is accredited under the province’s Diagnostic Accreditation Program (DAP) and in 2010 earned the ISO 15189 international accreditation.

The significant investments the company has made in new methodologies and state-of-the-art testing platforms have led to improvements in quality, access and timeliness. Together with the company's healthcare partners, it supports the development of clinical practice guidelines for the community laboratory sector and performance improvements through industry-wide key indicators.

As a result of LifeLabs' focus on quality, not only does the company meet the same rigorous accreditation standards as Canadian hospital laboratories, but unlike many other areas of the healthcare system today, it measures wait times in minutes, not days.

An Innovative Approach

LifeLabs invests in new technologies and has developed novel methodologies and approaches that support improvements in patient care.

One example of this is in the area of e-health. In the 1990s, the company envisioned a patient-centred future where lab results would be available electronically to caregivers, pulling data from multiple lab sources to provide a single cohesive report. LifeLabs has been an e-health pioneer within Canada’s lab sector, providing test results to physicians electronically for more than 25 years.

Today, LifeLabs is contributing to the creation of a provincial electronic healthcare database through its role as a founding partner of the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS). This is an integrated repository of lab tests and results that will help feed the new e-health records system and provide practitioners with timely access to information used in clinical decision making.

In 1999, LifeLabs and BC Biomedical Services partnered to create Excelleris, a software and services health information management company dedicated to providing healthcare professionals with fast, accessible patient information by integrating and developing efficient and cost-effective electronic distribution solutions.

More than 15 years ago, LifeLabs recognized that the future of laboratory diagnostics would be shaped by emerging genetic technologies and developed molecular diagnostics as a core capacity to improve the quality of lab diagnoses. Today LifeLabs offers more than 2,000 genetic tests including molecular diagnostics, biochemical and metabolic testing. With the opening of its new genetics laboratory in Toronto in 2015, LifeLabs enables patients and their healthcare providers to access genetic testing from where they live, with the support of experts familiar with the Canadian healthcare system.

Partnering for Better Results

LifeLabs is part of a national organization with the capacity to collaborate broadly across the country. Its position as a major laboratory services provider makes it an ideal partner to government, academia and industry.

The company works with research institutions and other healthcare providers to identify the best possible diagnostics tools and is collaborating with organizations to raise standards in patient care.

LifeLabs also works closely with patient advocacy organizations and chronic disease groups to support advancements in disease management and an improved quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses.

Today, LifeLabs is a major supporter of cancer-related causes and, through its testing expertise, it contributes to cancer prevention initiatives, including ColonCancerCheck, a screening program designed to detect colorectal cancer at an early asymptomatic stage and reduce the rate of mortality. LifeLabs supports ColonCancerCheck through the provision of Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) collection kits to physicians and pharmacists, the testing of FOBT kits and the delivery of results. LifeLabs has also partnered with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to establish a national database of genomic profiles of various cancers.

In the Community

LifeLabs sponsors and donates to health care services-related programs, with an emphasis on direct services to individuals and communities in need.

Many LifeLabs employees are engaged in fundraising and volunteer work for non-profit and charitable organizations in their communities. LifeLabs supports employee activities through its Corporate Giving Guidelines, which match funds that are donated to worthy organizations on behalf of employees who fundraise or volunteer.

The company is a sponsor of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and has been an active supporter since 1999. Relay for Life is the Canadian Cancer Society’s major fundraising event and raises money in support of cancer research, support programs, advocacy and assistance to those living with the disease. Open to all regardless of age or fitness level, and scheduled for any time of the day or night, a Relay for Life event is run as a relay race, where participants pass their batons to others at the end of their laps. In 2014 nearly 400 Relays took place across Canada.

Starting as a supporter in 1999, the company became an event sponsor in Mississauga, Ontario in 2001. It then became the Provincial Luminary sponsor in Ontario. LifeLabs’ corporate commitment has since grown with the expansion of events across Canada. Over the years, LifeLabs and its employees, together with family and friends, have raised funds and formed many Relay teams in communities in this country.

LifeLabs was a proud supporter of the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto. The company collected samples and performed laboratory tests as part of the medical and health care team which supported participating athletes, coaches and officials. It also provided phlebotomy services in support of the anti-doping program at the Games.

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