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e-3015 (Health)

Initiated by Melissa Matlow from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Prime Minister

  • 75% of new and emerging infectious diseases affecting human health over the past decade originated from animals, principally from wildlife including MERS, SARS, Ebola, Monkeypox, HIV/AIDS, HPAI H5N1;
  • A wildlife market played a significant role in the COVID-19 outbreak and the 2002 SARS outbreak;
  • The wildlife trade increases the likelihood that a diverse array of wild animals will come into contact with each other and spread infectious diseases which can then be transmitted to humans;
  • Canada imported at least 320,081 wild animals in 2019. Over 75% of the animals imported were not subject to any import restrictions, including pathogen screening and 80% were destined for the exotic pet industry;
  • Despite existing regulations, Canada fuels the supply and demand for wildlife and wildlife products and contributes to the growth in this trade;
  • Current border measures are not sufficient in protecting public health;
  • A One Health approach to curbing the wildlife trade is one of the most effective and cost-efficient strategies to prevent the next pandemic;
  • 75% of Canadians want the Canadian government to support a ban on wildlife markets; and
  • 70% of Canadians want the government to support a global ban on the commercial trade in wild animals and stronger laws to reduce the wild animal trade in Canada.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Prime Minister to support and encourage the closure of wildlife markets globally that could become sources for future pandemics and to commit to end the international and domestic trade in wild animals and their products that could aid in the spread of zoonotic diseases.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

The Government of Canada acknowledges that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade in wildlife species has been a focus of public attention and more so in the context of the strong interconnection between humans, animals and the shared environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the many complex relationships between biodiversity and human health, and significant public attention is focused on the trade in wildlife and wildlife products. No one knows with certainty what circumstances led to this current pandemic. Nevertheless, it has been widely assumed that the spread of COVID-19 started in a wildlife market (also known as “wet market” or “live animal market”) in Wuhan, China. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) undertook an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus in China, and in March 2021, the WHO reported that while the study advanced our understanding the source of the virus has not been found, all hypotheses remain on the table, and that continued work is necessary.

Consideration of specific risk management measures to prevent disease, epidemics, and pandemics is needed. In this regard, we are mindful that the term wildlife refers to both animals and plants, and that many communities rely on the consumption and trade of wildlife, including international trade of wildlife products. A focus solely on wildlife trade will not address all the root causes of zoonotic diseases and may have unintended consequences for the nutrition, culture, and livelihoods of local communities or Indigenous people. Additionally, a general ban on wildlife trade may result in increased illegal wildlife trade, making it more difficult to ensure wildlife conservation or to protect human health.

Canada strongly supports biodiversity conservation and the sustainable harvest and use of wildlife domestically and internationally, and supports actions taken by other countries to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of their wildlife, as well as strong sanitary measures.

The Government of Canada acknowledges the critical importance of strengthening multi-sectoral approaches to integrate disease prevention, detection, surveillance and response. The Government of Canada is committed to a collaborative approach that involves and mobilizes partners across human health, animal health, and the environment. As a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),  Canada recognizes the importance for countries to ensure strong regulatory mechanisms to support the sustainable harvest and use of wild plants and animals, including taking action to regulate or restrict wildlife trade and wildlife consumption when necessary for conservation or human safety. The Government of Canada is committed to working with partners, including through the G7 and G20, as well as through One Health initiatives to prevent the spread of diseases. We also look forward to discussions with CITES Parties on the role CITES could play in global efforts to reduce the risk of future zoonotic disease emergence associated with wildlife trade.

The government of Canada will continue supporting biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of wildlife domestically and internationally, and supporting actions taken by other countries to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of their wildlife. We recognize the need to integrate the benefits of sustainable and legal wildlife trade with food security and human health.



Open for signature
December 3, 2020, at 2:33 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 2, 2021, at 2:33 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Michelle Rempel Garner (Calgary Nose Hill)
May 5, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00910)
Government response tabled
June 18, 2021
Photo - Michelle Rempel Garner
Calgary Nose Hill
Conservative Caucus