The Government of Canada to invest over $2.1 million in wildlife disease surveillance across the country
February 9, 2023 – Gatineau, Quebec
Canada’s wildlife species contribute to the well-being of Canadians and the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Wildlife diseases can affect the balance of national animal populations and have implications for human health, food security, and the country’s agricultural and economic prosperity. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of wildlife to ensure that healthy interactions between wild and domestic animals, and the Canadian public, are maintained.
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced today that the Government of Canada is investing $2.1 million over three years to support projects to improve our knowledge and management of issues related to wildlife diseases. The projects are being led by the national office of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, based at the University of Saskatchewan.
These projects include the development of new tools to track wildlife health and the risks of emerging infectious diseases. Work is also planned for identifying and predicting the impacts of climate change on wildlife health and will include avenues for action. In addition, education and outreach programs will be provided to non-governmental organizations, Indigenous groups, the provinces and territories, and Canadians, to encourage their participation in wildlife health surveillance.
A contribution was also made to address urgent coordination and data management needs related to highly pathogenic avian influenza in Canada. The objective is to consolidate communications and management of the cooperative, which includes many partners.
A project dedicated to bat health is also being funded. More specifically, this includes the effective coordination of surveillance programs for white-nose syndrome and emerging zoonotic diseases, and the identification of the potential critical habitat for three endangered species: the Little Brown Bat, the Northern Bat, and the Tri-colored Bat.
“Climate change and the deterioration of our ecosystems are having an impact on the emergence and spread of wildlife diseases. Recent years have shown us that these diseases can have serious implications for our health and economy. We need to continue to expand our wildlife disease surveillance and management activities. Our government has committed to protecting 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030, and will continue to work with its many partners to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for both wildlife and Canadians.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The Government of Canada's investment in wildlife disease surveillance is vital for protecting the health of our country's wildlife, and the health of Canadians and our domestic animals, as the two are closely linked. We are grateful for this support for our collaborative work on wildlife health, which is increasingly important in the face of changing climate, habitat loss, and our increasingly interconnected world."
– Damien Joly, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
“Monitoring emerging diseases to gain a better understanding of their distribution among wildlife populations and develop strategies to manage them, are critical activities that the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative provides for Canadians in collaboration with university and government partners. The University of Saskatchewan and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are excited to work with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative on these challenges. We welcome this significant investment in wildlife disease surveillance that fits in with our university’s commitment to developing solutions for One Health issues affecting animal, human, and ecosystem health.”
– Dr. Gillian Muir, Dean, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative provides a pan-Canadian perspective on wildlife health, while helping to identify and assess emerging issues at the local level.
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative brings together internationally recognized wildlife health researchers and diagnosticians, population health experts, and experienced educators. It works with partners to ensure that this knowledge is applied in a timely manner.
Founded over 30 years ago, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative is a collaborative effort from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Montreal Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Ontario Veterinary College, the Atlantic Veterinary College, and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
The viruses that cause COVID-19 and avian influenza are examples of zoonotic infectious diseases.
Globalization, climate change, and habitat loss are factors increasing the emergence of wildlife diseases.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
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