Agriculture minister refutes accusations about Animal Health Act

Agriculture Minister Don McRae says journalists won't be muzzled — or imprisoned — for reporting diseased animals at fish farms.

Comox Valley MLA/B.C. Agriculture Minister Don McRae says journalists and activists won’t be muzzled — or imprisoned — for reporting diseased animals at fish farms or other agricultural operations, as suggested by

critics of the Animal Health Act (Bill 37).

“Some people wish to interpret the act as if they were to speak about it as private citizens to the media that they would go to jail, and that wasn’t in the act at all,” McRae said of the legislation, which was not passed before the

spring legislative sitting expired last week.

He notes Section 16 of the act says ‘person,’ which refers to those who inspect or administer

the act. The next section lists five categories of people.

“Everybody else is totally fine,” McRae said. “We also do have a Charter of Rights

and Freedoms which kind of trumps a whole bunch of laws anyways.”

McRae said the Animal Health Act, which has not been updated since 1948, does

not reflect modern disease and government’s ability to react to it.

Rather than invent a new process, the Province looked to places where the act is working, such as Alberta and Ontario, and created a law to ensure the act is “effective and met the needs of animals and humans, according to


“It wasn’t like this was just popping up in British Columbia on its own,” McRae said, noting the Province consulted with the likes of provincial chief veterinary officer Dr. Paul Kitching and B.C.’s chief

medical officer Dr. Perry Kendall, as well as industry.

He added most diseases affecting land or ocean, such as IHN (infectious

haematopoietic necrosis), fall under federal jurisdiction.

“The reality is, by having an Animal Health Act, if there were a disease outbreak and the federal government wasn’t responding in a way the B.C. government felt was appropriate, with the act we could take course of action to protect people and animals as we see fit,” McRae said. “Without the Animal Health Act we rely on the federal government to do it. And they’ve done a good job but we don’t know the disease that’s going to come next, and that’s what it’s all about — preventing diseases

that maybe we haven’t seen yet.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Starthcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Numerous Comox Valley projects get CERIP grants

Numerous Comox Valley projects have received grants through the Community Economic Recovery… Continue reading

Thrifty Foods. (Black Press file photo)
Thrifty Foods confirms staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Courtenay

The company currently lists 12 stores within B.C. with confirmed cases

Comox Valley Schools’ distance learning program, Navigate (NIDES), which saw some large gains in enrolment this year, could see a return to normal numbers come September. Image, screenshot
Comox Valley Schools expects enrolment drop come fall

Decline projected online, as more students return to ‘bricks-and-mortar’ classes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Most Read