Thank you, Mr. Chair and good day to all the members of the committee.
I am Dr. Brian Evans, as the chair has indicated. I am the current treasurer of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. As such, I also serve as an ex officio member of the CVMA executive and the CVMA council. It was my honour and privilege to previously serve as Canada's chief veterinary officer for 15 years, as well as Canada's chief food safety officer and executive vice-president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency prior to my retirement from the public service in 2013.
I was subsequently very fortunate to serve for a number of years as the deputy director general at the World Organisation for Animal Health, known globally as the OIE, based in Paris.
I'm pleased to be accompanied today at the committee by Dr. Henry Ceelen, the chair of the CVMA's national issues committee and a highly respected food animal practitioner from eastern Ontario. It's our pleasure to lend our collective experience and perspectives to assist you in your consideration of this private member's bill, Bill C-205, an act to amend the Health of Animals Act.
Briefly, the CVMA was incorporated by an act of Parliament in 1948. Our association is the national and international voice for Canada's approximately 13,000 veterinarians and 9,000 veterinary technicians and technologists. We provide leadership and advocacy for the veterinary medical community. The strategic priorities underpinning the work of the CVMA include leadership on national and international veterinary issues, animal welfare advocacy and support for members in building successful careers and maintaining balanced lives.
Canada's veterinarians make critical contributions to support the well-being of Canadians and the Canadian economy in a wide variety of roles. This includes the health and welfare of aquatic, terrestrial farm and companion animals; food security and food safety inspection; policy development in animal and public health domains in federal, provincial and territorial governments; scientific research; laboratory diagnostics; technical support for the animal health industry; and many others.
Canadian veterinarians embody the real-world application of the principles of One Health—that is, we work to address risks that emerge at the interface of animal health, human health and ecosystem health. We are qualified to assess and advise on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and response to animal and zoonotic diseases, which are those diseases that affect both animals and humans, including those of livestock that have the potential to spread rapidly and widely, affecting herds and flocks over vast areas, often with significant adverse welfare, social and economic impacts.
Likewise, we understand the role of the environment as a potential source of disease and exposure to contaminants of many sorts, and the ability of hazards to spread through environmental contamination from affected premises to others in the surrounding area and beyond.
Overlying our roles and responsibilities in One Health is the essential role veterinarians play in contributing to the Canadian economy through trade and market access by working with producers and in close collaboration with the CFIA and provincial governments to produce healthy animals and safe food, respecting societal values and meeting consumer expectations.
In the area of animal welfare, Canadian veterinarians work through the CVMA with the National Farm Animal Care Council to develop and maintain codes of practice for all farm animal species that fall under animal care programs managed by industry.
In the area of animal and public health, Canada's veterinarians are trusted advisers in designing and implementing strict on-farm voluntary biosecurity protocols that are focused on managing natural, incidental and deliberate threats and are specifically aimed at prevention of disease and illness in animals. Veterinarians are well aware that prevention of an animal or zoonotic disease outbreak is much more cost-effective than managing the consequences.
This proposed amendment to the Health of Animals Act would “make it an offence to enter, without lawful authority or excuse, a place in which animals are kept if doing so could result in the exposure of the animals to a disease or toxic substance that is capable of affecting or contaminating them”.
The CVMA acknowledges that authorized or unauthorized entry of individuals onto premises where animals are raised or housed is one way that diseases or other contaminants could be introduced onto the premises. It is for this very reason that many livestock operations have strict entry and exit controls, in many cases including decontamination shower-in and shower-out protocols.
Biosecurity procedures incorporate controls to mitigate risk from other potential disease entry points as well. For example, strategies are used to ensure that herds are closed to the introduction of live animals, vaccination programs are in effect, and wildlife and insect vector populations are controlled—