FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 25, 2020
QUEEN’S PARK – In the wake of National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Day last Saturday, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett raised the issue of Chronic Wasting Disease in the Ontario Legislature during Question Period yesterday.
Barrett started by highlighting the $560 million hunters spend and $1.6 billion anglers spend each year, pointing out our wildlife needs to be protected.
“We know that a disease that takes hold in animal populations can upset the balance in an ecosystem, threaten the safety of our food supply and hurt businesses and livelihoods for many who work in agriculture, hunting and resource-based tourism,” he said.
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski outlined the threat Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) presents for the province’s deer, moose, elk and caribou.
“The health of our wildlife and rural economies affects the food supply chain for people in cities, from Ottawa to Toronto and Windsor,” he said.
Pointing out there is CWD in neighbouring provinces and states, Barrett asked what the ministry is doing besides testing 13,000 deer and elk the past 20 years.
Yakabuski said this summer new measures were put in place as part of the CWD strategy that prohibit the importation of live cervids in most circumstances.
“The newly proposed changes would enhance protections that are already in place,” the minister said. “These measures will protect Ontario’s wildlife and support sustainable hunting, which creates jobs and makes an important economic contribution to our province.”
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Sept. 23, 2020
Mr. Toby Barrett: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. As we know, here in Ontario, we have a thriving resource-based tourism sector. In normal times, we draw tourists from around the world, who come for the pristine wilderness in the northern parts of our province. Hunters and anglers spend more than $560 million and $1.6 billion, respectively, each year in Ontario to support jobs in many of our rural and northern communities.
We know that a disease that takes hold in animal populations can upset the balance in an ecosystem, threaten the safety of our food supply and hurt businesses and livelihoods for many who work in agriculture, hunting and resource-based tourism. Minister, what is our government doing to ensure that we’re on top of this threat posed by disease in wildlife populations?
Hon. John Yakabuski: I want to thank the great member from Haldimand–Norfolk for that question. He’s right to the point on the importance of monitoring livestock and wild animals.
Our government gets it. We represent people in every corner of the province and understand the interconnectedness of our ecosystems and our economy. The health of our wildlife and rural economies affects the food supply chain for people in cities, from Ottawa to Toronto and Windsor. Earlier this year, we took action to further protect wildlife populations from chronic wasting disease, CWD, and ensure continued hunting opportunities in the province. CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects members of the cervid family—deer, elk, moose and caribou.
Speaker, I’ll have more to say in the supplementary.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Thank you, Minister, for that response. It’s one thing to say that we’re on top of things when the going is good, but it’s great to hear that we’re being vigilant with respect to this threat of chronic wasting disease and other similar diseases.
I was pleased to find out that in Ontario we’ve tested over 13,000 deer and elk over the past two decades and all the tests have been negative. But as we know, we can never take things for granted. There have been cases in neighbouring states and neighbouring provinces.
My question to the minister is, what are we doing here in Ontario to ensure that we continue to keep our cervid populations safe?
Hon. John Yakabuski: Thank you again to the member for the question.
I have attended the testing facility at Trent University in Peterborough, as well, to see the great work they do.
While CWD has not been detected in Ontario, as you say, it is important to remain vigilant. CWD was discovered in 2018 on a deer farm in Quebec, close to the Ontario border, and has been found in all five states bordering Ontario.
In December 2019, our government announced a CWD prevention and response plan to ensure that approaches are in place to minimize the risk of the disease entering or spreading within our province.
Additionally, this summer we proposed to prohibit the import of live, captive cervids from outside of the province, in most circumstances.
The newly proposed changes would enhance protections that are already in place. These measures will protect Ontario’s wildlife and support sustainable hunting, which creates jobs and makes an important economic contribution to our province.