New measures will help prevent, detect, and respond to animal diseases and other related health events to better protect the people, animals, and economy of Ontario.
The Animal Health Act, 2009 was passed last week by the Ontario legislature.
Once proclaimed, the act will provide important tools to help support government and industry partners, including:
•enabling the use of quarantine orders, surveillance zones, and animal health control area orders to help control the spread of any detected disease or hazard; and
•supporting a future traceability framework for the quick identification and control of disease and food safety hazards.
The bill’s passage comes after consultation with industry partners and the public on an animal health strategy for the province, which began in 2006.
In the new year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs plans to establish an ad hoc committee, with representative industry partners, to guide development of initial regulations that will come under the bill.
“This important legislation establishes a framework that will protect our animals and make our agri-food sector more competitive,” said Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs minister Leona Dombrowsky.
“I look forward to working with industry partners as we develop regulations under the act that will further enhance our ability to protect Ontario’s livestock and poultry,” she added.
“The Animal Health Act provides us with new tools to help keep Ontario’s livestock and poultry healthy, and to quickly address any potential risks to their health,” echoed Dr. Deb Stark, chief veterinarian for Ontario.
“This legislation is an important step in strengthening Ontario’s animal health system,” she noted.
“The Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council members are very pleased that Bill 204 has passed third reading and will soon come into effect as the provincial Animal Health Act,” said Gord Coukell, chair of the Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council.
“This act is an essential component to enable industry and government to work together on animal health as it relates to biosecurity and emergency preparedness initiatives.
“We have advocated for the development of animal health legislation for a number of years, and we commend the Ontario government on passing this bill,” Coukell added.
Ontario is home to Canada’s most diverse livestock and poultry industries, with the largest poultry industry, second-largest swine and dairy industries, and third-largest beef industry.