These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Avian Flu

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, last week I wrote a letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food urging him to address the avian flu crisis by announcing a compensation plan that would cover more than just the cost of the birds. It needs to address the farmers' lost revenue. It should address the concerns of other dependent industries impacted by the government's depopulation order. Finally, we need it now, not months or years from now.

Everyone's first priority is to get rid of the disease. Now, after two months, can the minister tell us the details of the compensation plan that he has designed to help all of those affected by this outbreak of the avian flu?

Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is aware, I am in the process of depopulating some 18 million birds. This is a very large undertaking. I want to give my appreciation to his province, the Government of British Columbia, for its help in this matter.

As he knows, under the Health of Animals Act, I do have the ability to compensate farmers for the value of that. In fact, to date, some 54 cheques have gone out, in the neighbourhood of some $2.4 million.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, here is an example of one of the problems. It turns out that the pigeons ordered destroyed in the valley were not diseased, cannot carry the avian flu, and were in no danger to either poultry or humans.

Yet the CFIA carried out a depopulation order that affected Doug and Susan Rudnisky's family which lost 16,000 birds for no reason. Neville Eccles lost thousands of dollars worth of birds for no reason. These birds were not diseased and were not a problem. Now the CFIA has reversed its position.

What compensation will these people receive for what will break their industry and break their farms if the minister does not address their concerns?

Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is aware, this is an issue being dealt with on the best science that we know. In fact, at the time, we believed that we needed to depopulate all of the birds in that area.

In terms of specific cases such as that, the CFIA will be speaking with those people and will be working with them.

In terms of broader compensation, the Government of Canada is now talking with the industry and the province of British Columbia. We are trying to find out exactly what is happening on the ground now in terms of what the need will be.

Once those discussions are completed and once we are through this area of depopulating, then we will be in a better position to talk about the longer term--

The Speaker: The hon. member for GanderóGrand Falls.