Quebec’s provincial government will set up a working group to draft a strategy for animal health and welfare, and will also renew its rural veterinary service program.
The province on Tuesday pledged $2.5 million over five years for the development of a strategy focused on monitoring and prevention and bringing the province’s livestock operations into compliance with what it said will be the highest international standards.
The province said its working group will include representation from a number of different stakeholder partners, to prepare a plan that will consolidate the province’s efforts on the animal health and welfare file.
Tuesday’s announcement also included a pledge of $45.6 million over the next three years to renew the provincial program for enhanced animal health (Programme d’amelioration de la sante animale au Quebec, or ASAQ), which is meant to help ensure farmers’ access to rural veterinary service.
ASAQ is meant to provide direct cash support for access both to veterinary treatment and illness prevention services for livestock producers provincewide, and to provide veterinary drugs at a uniform cost for all farmers across the province.
The program pays up to 38 per cent of the cost of eligible veterinary work, up to a newly-increased cap of $5,000 per year, per eligible farmer.
The renewed ASAQ will also include financial aid to help provide relief veterinarians in specific regions of the province where such services are limited, the province said. It also has provisions to maintain vet service in areas of relatively low livestock density.
ASAQ also pegs the provincial agriculture ministry’s contribution at 75 per cent in cases of animals hospitalized at the University of Montreal’s veterinary teaching hospital.
The program’s provisions also include mechanisms for veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal illness that could endanger animal health or public health, and for monitoring and surveillance of certain diseases in Quebec’s livestock.