Madam Speaker, it is getting a little late in the evening. I was pleased that the hon. member who just spoke outlined some of the valuable work of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on the ground in relation to the outbreak of avian flu.
As the member pointed out, it is a serious outbreak. I am not so sure his comments that the federal government has not done anything, cannot do anything, does not want to do anything, is responsible for western alienation, et cetera, are on the mark. It actually sounded quite clichéd.
The fact of the matter is the federal government is on the ground, very much so, visibly so, conspicuously so, and just as importantly is working with its partners provincially and municipally. To suggest otherwise is simply not an accurate reflection of the reality out there.
The first objective is to stop the outbreak, stop the spread and to achieve a status on the ground where we are 21 days free of the virus. We are still seeking that threshold. The accepted technique internationally of dealing with this type of an outbreak is depopulation and slaughter of the poultry involved, and that process is being followed. Although not spreading in a major way, it is frustrating to see the outbreak spread, but the efforts to contain it have not reached their total end game of fully and finally stopping the spread.
Because this type of flu affects other types of birds, there may have to be other steps taken in relation to those birds. While that does not seem to be a major issue, it could be. On the ground there has been very conspicuous cooperation by all the producers. It is in their interests and the interests of the Fraser Valley itself to ensure that the outbreak is contained and terminated.
There is a compensation regime which will thus far apply to the 23 producers who have been affected by this. The compensation mechanism involves payment of market value for the slaughtered flocks.
There is a plan for recovery. It has been designed and put in place in consultation with the entire producer group in British Columbia and beyond. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is also currently working with the industry to encourage all eligible B.C. producers to sign up for the Canadian agricultural income stabilization program for disaster relief coverage for the year 2004. They will benefit from this coverage if the production margin for the individual farm is down 30% or more. Of course that is looking into the future. That may be the case for many affected farms. Four information sessions are currently being scheduled for the week of April 26.
The plan for recovery has been developed and is in the process of being implemented. Of course we do not get to recovery until we have terminated the outbreak. However, the long run goals should be obvious and are embedded in that plan. They goals are to bring the B.C. producers, the processing and local economy back into the market conditions that existed previously, helping market conditions, and to restore the status of our poultry production and regional and international high standards and reputation, as has been the case for B.C. and the Fraser Valley.
The federal government's main actor on the ground here has been mentioned and thankfully outlined--I will not do it here--by the member who just spoke. The essential work of the CFIA has been recognized. That work could not carry on alone. It of course happens through and with the cooperation and on the groundwork of the other partners in the zones affected.
While it is sometimes difficult from this place in the House to reach out and provide absolute assurance to people on the ground across Canada when situations like this develop, I want to assure colleagues in the House that my colleagues on this side and, I am sure, colleagues on the other side are prepared to encourage the government officials, government departments and agencies to ensure that the procedures now in place are fully implemented, the goals accomplished and the B.C. producers in the Fraser Valley are back in business, with the workers fully employed again and producing the quality poultry that they have a good reputation for producing.