Today during Question Period I pressed the Liberal government to work with Manitoba Pork producers to curb the outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). In the last month, there have been 9 new cases of the virus reported in Manitoba. The virus is often fatal to new-born pigs under 7 to 10 days of age and is primarily transmitted through feces. Clinical signs include excessive scouring, wasting, vomiting, and new-born mortality.
In the Minister of Agriculture’s answer to the question, the Liberal Minister was clearly confused about the nature of the virus and the recent outbreaks, even though the Manitoba Pork Council has been repeatedly been in contact with his department. The Liberal Minister talked about food safety in his answer; however PEDv is not transmitted to humans or other animals and also not a food safety risk. Furthermore, the Minister said that the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency is monitoring “this product”, including product recall, however the answer was incoherent as there is nothing to recall as the virus only affects live pigs.
It is deeply troubling that the Liberal Minster of Agriculture doesn't understand PEDv. The Liberals have long ignored Manitoba pork producers and now it seems the Minister is completely unaware of what the virus is and its potential to devastate swine herds. Because of their inaction, the virus continues to spread and puts the livelihoods of Manitoba farm families at risk.
I have continued to call on the Liberal government to reintroduce the biosecurity measures that they eliminated last year. The previous Conservative government had allowed livestock transport trailers to have their trailers washed and disinfected in disease-free, certified Canadian facilities, instead of being forced to use American facilities where PEDv is widespread. According to the Manitoba Pork Council, the Liberals have ignored advice from practicing veterinarians, all the major swine producer groups, the chief veterinary officers of the three Prairie Provinces, and swine health researchers.
Pork producers and livestock transporters have stated that the regulations forcing them to clean their trailers in unregulated, disease infected wash stations in the United States needs to be changed. Many believe that by being forced to wash in infected American wash stations, adds unnecessary risk as that is where the virus is most rampant.
I know pork producers are pleading with the Liberals to stop procrastinating and their blatant inertia. Western Canadian farmers expect that when they ask for help, the federal government will listen and act - however the Minister of agriculture has shown a total disregard by expressing that he will not intervene on their behalf.
Since last year, livestock transporters and pork producers have raised this issue with the Liberal government but nothing has been done, however, the Government of Manitoba has given the Manitoba Pork Council the authority to regulate the transportation of swine in the province, including penalties for any infractions.
It is the Minister of Agriculture's job to stand up for Canadian farmers, and to work with pork producers towards a solution. This is just another example that this Liberal government is out of touch with farm families. I will continue to stand up for Westman's interests and be a strong voice for our region.