Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Manitoba auditor says disease response lacking

Manitoba’s auditor general has issued a report criticizing the agriculture department for lack of preparations and capacity to deal with a disease outbreak.

But the province’s chief veterinarian, Janelle Hamblin, said “they’ve been highly engaged and they’ve given everything that they can.” 

“I think that if we had more time, more people, more funding, we probably could do more,” she said. She is also manager of swine health programs with Manitoba Pork. “We’re working with what we have, and I think that we have done a very good job.”

But auditor general Tyson Shtykalo found that “significant more needs to be done.”

He wrote that no emergency response plans were in place for most diseases of interest. 

The exception was avian influenza; there were partial plans for another seven of the 36 diseases of interest, he found.

The report recommends the department prepare a complete response plan for each disease “identified as significant to Manitoba.”

This should be based on risk assessments done to determine which are priority, the report said.

The Ontario auditor-general has never issued a report on this aspect of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.