The COVID-19 crisis is a devastating example of the risks we take as a society when we fail to actively prevent the emergence and spread of wildlife disease. The virus is currently spreading among Canadian white-tailed deer, creating the need to track and monitor the virus in the wild. At the same time, cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza are on the rise, decimating domestic poultry farms and killing individuals of many species of wild bird. These and other health challenges have highlighted how Canada’s federal and provincial programs to detect and respond to wildlife health threats lack sufficient capacity and coordination.
Internationally, Canada supported the G7 Joint Statement in February 2021 and the Rome Declaration of May 2021 calling for strengthened implementation of the One Health approach to the prevention and control of diseases that can transfer between animals and humans. Domestically, however, Canada is ill-prepared to deal with existing and emerging threats. The current approach to wildlife health is under-resourced and reactive. Consequently, problems are rarely addressed in their early stages when response options are greatest. Demands for wildlife health services and expertise are growing due to the need for assurances for trading partners, the need to ensure a safe food source for Indigenous peoples and other Canadians who rely on wildlife for sustenance and livelihoods, and the increase in emerging diseases that threaten public health and agriculture.
To address these challenges, the Green Budget Coalition recommends the federal government fund the Pan-Canadian Approach to Wildlife Health.
$120 million over five years
- $45 million for the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative and other non-government coordinating bodies, to build professional capacity within Canada, coordinate monitoring and surveillance, and provide access to diagnostic, data management and synthesis of information that is accessible across the country [ECCC];
- $20 million for application-based program funding to support non-government partners to deliver wildlife health programs including a Northern Wildlife Health Program [ECCC, PHAC];
- $45 million to build federal/provincial/ territorial government capacity to implement wildlife health programs that collaborate with livestock and public health sector partners [ECCC, CFIA]; and
- $10 million for governance, targeted Indigenous hunter communication tools, professional exchange programs, research fellowships, and State of Wildlife Health reports. [ECCC]