Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate this opportunity to speak to the efforts being taken to prevent African swine fever from coming into Canada.
Let me touch upon three important points when it comes to African swine fever, or ASF. First, ASF is not in Canada. Second, our approach to keeping ASF out of Canada focuses on prevention and preparedness. Third, we are working with domestic and international partners to finalize a framework and an associated action plan to address ASF.
To begin on my first point, Mr. Chair, the CFIA has recognized from the beginning the importance of keeping ASF out of Canada. In fact, it's a disease we've been watching for years, even before it appeared in China, because an important part of our mandate is safeguarding animal health in Canada.
ASF is a contagious viral swine disease that can cause high mortality rates in infected domestic and wild pigs. To date, there have been no reported cases of ASF in North America, but the disease is spreading rapidly in other parts of the world.
ASF was first discovered in Africa in the 1920s and spread outside of Africa beginning in 2007. Since the summer and fall of 2018, ASF has spread to a significant extent in areas of Europe and Asia.
I want to make it clear that there are no human health risks associated with ASF. Food is safe, and there is no risk of transmission of the disease to humans. However, its entry into Canada could have a devastating impact on the health of the swine population and therefore on Canada's pork industry, as you heard just before Jaspinder and I joined the table.
Canada is the third-largest pork exporting country in both value and volume, representing about 20% of the world pork trade. ln 2017, 1.2 million tonnes of Canadian pork, valued at $4 billion, were exported to over 100 different countries. The Canadian pork industry contributes to more than 100,000 jobs, which in turn generate close to $24 billion.
As you heard this morning, we've been working with representatives from other levels of government and industry both domestically and internationally to minimize the risk and protect Canada's swine population. Our efforts have very much been taken in a partnership approach with industry.
Given that Canada and the Americas are currently free of ASF, we've been taking a leadership role in acting decisively and collaboratively to increase awareness around ASF and fill in gaps that have been identified, in order to aid in our approach to the disease.
This brings me to my second point. Prevention and preparedness have been our major concern. We must be ready for any eventuality. That's why Canada continues to take steps in both of these areas.
Mr. Chair, a big problem with ASF is there's no treatment or vaccine, so this makes the focus on prevention and preparedness most important.
As I said, we've been engaging a broad range of representatives, especially industry, in this country—on both the producer and the processor side—to do all we can to prevent the introduction of ASF into North America, and also to be prepared in the event that the disease reaches this continent. That includes working with government and industry to develop and implement a national action plan, and working closely with both the United States and Mexico, recognizing the integrated nature of our industries. lt also includes working closely with our QUADS partners in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., with international partners like the World Organisation for Animal Health, or OIE, with the European Union, and with a wide range of other participants from industry to academia.
Another valued partner, whom you'll hear from shortly, is the Canada Border Services Agency. Up to $30 million has been allocated to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports, to help prevent undeclared pork products from entering Canada. This was recognized early on as one of the vectors we had to be worried about. These dogs are an extremely effective means of quickly searching large amounts of baggage, and they are very successful in finding undeclared imported meat products.
ln addition, a ministerial declaration by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has placed additional import controls on plant-based feed and feed ingredients arriving at certain Canadian marine ports from countries where we know ASF is already established.
We are also working on tools such as zoning, because that's effective in facilitating safe trade from unaffected areas in the face of an outbreak. We are working with our key trading partners to have zoning recognized in the event of an outbreak in Canada.
This brings me to my final point. ASF knows no boundaries. It cannot be solved by any one country or any one stakeholder. What I know for sure is that we need to work together—industry and all levels of government—to make sure we keep ASF out of this country.
Also, we need to work globally. That is why, earlier this month, an international forum was held in Ottawa, organized by Dr. Komal and co-hosted by Canada and the U.S. Over the course of two days, we worked with colleagues from around the globe to address the risks of ASF. There were 150 leaders and decision-makers from government and industry, from 15 countries, who shared their experience and expertise, engaged in productive discussions and contributed to developing strategies to address ASF.
Jointly, we are finalizing a framework and associated action plan that will support ongoing international collaboration and action in the areas of preparedness planning, enhanced biosecurity, business continuity and coordinated risk communications. This framework and associated action plan will build on existing foundations for a high state of readiness to swiftly control ASF should it enter the Americas region, strengthening biosecurity measures to prevent the entry of ASF and mitigate its spread, establishing arrangements in the swine sector to mitigate trade impacts, and having effective communications.
Through our domestic and international dialogues, we have also identified several key opportunities to collaborate and advance the implementation of the joint framework, once finalized.
The framework was not the end of our work together. Our discussions are set to take this important work further. We have found areas where more exploration is needed, and there will be more discussions on next steps based on the finalized framework, which will take place later this month at the World Organisation for Animal Health.
We are looking forward to our continued collaboration with both domestic and international representatives in industry and all levels of government as we continue to explore how best to address the potential impacts of ASF in Canada. What I do know is that we all need to work together to be successful here.
Thank you again for having me speak about this important issue.