February 20th, 2014

NDP calls for urgent study of spread of deadly pig virus

New Democrats are calling for Parliamentary action in the wake of the spread of a deadly pig virus to three Canadian provinces. Eighteen cases of the PED virus have now been confirmed on hog farms in Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. The NDP is calling on the House of Commons Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food to immediately study the issue.

“This virus poses a significant threat to the pork industry here in Canada,” said Agriculture Committee Vice-Chair and NDP deputy Agriculture critic Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier—Maskinongé). “Since the Minister refuses to take real action, it is crucial that Parliamentarians step up for our pork farmers.”

The Conservative government has so far dismissed any responsibility to act on the issue. But PED is not yet a federally reportable disease in Canada, which means there is no single set of protocols to help prevent it from spreading. Previously seen in parts of Asia and Europe, PED only arrived in the US last spring, but has already been confirmed in 24 states and killed millions of pigs. Ontario Pork has estimated the cost of the spread of the disease throughout Canada at $45 million within one year.

“As we’ve now said repeatedly, viruses don’t respect borders – national or provincial,” said NDP Agriculture critic Malcolm Allen (Welland). “The federal government must take action to ensure a cohesive and cooperative approach to dealing with this outbreak.”

The full text of the NDP motion is as follows:

“That, in light of the recent and rapid spread of the PED pig virus to three provinces, the Committee immediately (a) study (i) any prompt actions which need to be taken to limit the spread of the virus, (ii) the potential impacts of the spreading virus on Canada’s pork producers, (iii) mechanisms for the federal government to support farmers and aid in the mitigation of the outbreak, and (iv) the factors contributing to the spread of the virus; (b) make recommendations based on its findings; and (c) report these recommendations to the House of Commons.”