The Ontario government is taking steps to further protect the health and safety of Ontarians by consulting on details of an animal health strategy, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky announced.
"We are working with farm industry leaders to strengthen Ontario's position as a leader on animal health issues," said Dombrowsky. "With an enhanced strategy for addressing animal health issues in Ontario, we will be better able to protect the health and safety of Ontarians, as well as the economy."
The province currently has a number of animal health programs in place including diagnostic and technical support for private veterinarians, livestock inspection at abattoirs and market auctions and foreign animal disease response plans. In 2005, the Ontario government established the Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario to examine existing programs and develop a strategy for continued improvement. These consultations are the next step in the process.
"The consultations will examine a broad range of issues," said Dr. Deb Stark, Chief Veterinarian for Ontario. "Discussions will include suggestions for moving forward in our efforts to address serious animal diseases, such as avian influenza and BSE, and broader issues such as animal welfare and co-ordinating efforts between the animal and human health communities."
Starting in October, meetings will be held with stakeholder groups. The meetings will focus on the tools needed to implement a more comprehensive approach to animal health, including infrastructure, resources, and legislation, and examine the roles and responsibilities of government partners in safeguarding provincial animal health.
For others wishing to comment, a detailed paper outlining proposed enhancements will be available this fall on the OMAFRA website at www.omafra.gov.on.ca, along with contact information for providing feedback.