These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Avian Flu

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the avian flu has created a serious economic crisis. Over 19 million birds are scheduled to be slaughtered and the flu is still spreading.

The government says that it will pay the cost of the birds they are killing but will the government help compensate for the cost of neutralizing the manure, shipping the material, downtime at the farms for extensive periods and other related costs?

Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, albeit it has been a month and a half and this is the first question on this issue from the opposition.

I do want to say that we are working very closely with the government of British Columbia, with the producers and with the processors to help work through this terrible situation that is going on in the area of the Fraser Valley. I do want to assure all hon. members that the Prime Minister has had an opportunity to talk with the premier and I have been in close contact with my colleague, the minister of agriculture. We are doing everything we can to control this disease.

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, CPC): I think the farmers are expecting a lot more of an answer than that, Mr. Speaker.

Let me quote the Prime Minister in Victoria, British Columbia: “We cannot allow...issues in British Columbia to be relegated to the sidelines as regional issues”. A week later in Quebec he said that the avian flu is “a problem hidden behind the Rockies”.

I would like the minister to stand up and commit seriously to the farmers in British Columbia on a compensation package for all related costs and a comprehensive plan for all provinces.

Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we will be holding this disease in British Columbia. There should be no worry to the rest of Canada, in fact, that this disease will spread across the country.

In terms of compensation, we are working through a number of different departments to work with the provincial government and both the producers and the processors. We do not know at this stage, because we are working through this kill process now, what the overall impact of this is, but I can assure all hon. members that we will be working with the province, with the processors and with the producers to make sure that the impact this has on British Columbia--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Lotbinière—L'Érable.