Dr. Swann in Question Period on Chronic Wasting Disease – 8 December 2016

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, December 8, 2016

Chronic Wasting Disease

Dr. Swann: I’m shifting topics to the Alberta prion institute, that just received $11 million from Genome Canada to trace chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, and moose in Alberta. We need to act now to prevent a catastrophe not only in wildlife but in our agri-culture community. CWD is a fatal brain disease like mad cow disease. It’s spreading across western Canada since its introduction in game farms, and 15 years ago, the experts said that BSE, mad cow disease, would never cross species. Now, several hundred people have died from BSE.

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. member. [interjection] Your time is allocated, hon. member. Is there a minister who would like to announce . . . [interjection] Hon. member, your time is up. Please proceed, hon. minister.

Mr. Carlier: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the very important question. You know, as a government we absolutely recognize the importance of keeping our livestock – our tame livestock, our domestic livestock, wild livestock – safe from any form of disease. It’s important for biosecurity reasons, for our markets, for everything. We’re continuing to work with the industry – the farming industry, the wildland farming industry, other livestock industries right across the province – on all our biosecurity issues and continue to be working with the member with the question as well on making sure we can do all we can. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Dr. Swann: It’s been a decade since I started raising these issues. When will you ban the movement of all potentially wasting-disease-infected carcasses, live animals, products, equipment, or other sources of infectious materials across this province?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Carlier: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and the member for the question. The odd time that, you know, those biosecurity issues do come up in the province, the department takes it very seriously and reacts very quickly. Those operations do happen not that often, but we do take action on it. Continuing to work with the member, we welcome the member’s input in going forward to do much more if we could.

Dr. Swann: No action. No action in 10 years. Given there’s now evidence that thousands of citizens are unknowingly consuming infected animals, including First Nations, will the minister mandate and implement now convenient, cost-free testing of all animals harvested in the CWD-affected areas?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Carlier: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the question. The member I think does realize that there is testing going on. It is true that we have over the past few years, you know, picked up a couple of incidents when this has happened. It isn’t the doomsday scenario that he’s trying to make us believe. Incidents do happen. We have control of it. We continue with those controls. I have all the confidence in our public servants to do what they do best, and that is to make sure that we’re all safe. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.