June 11, 2009 (6:30 p.m. EDT)
No. 156

Statement by Ministers Day and Ritz on H1N1

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, today issued the following statement on the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) concerning the spread of the H1N1 influenza virus, and on the virus’s impact on trade:

“Today the World Health Organization raised the influenza pandemic level to phase 6, meaning that the H1N1 virus has caused sustained community-level outbreaks in more than one continental region. The WHO announcement is based on the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness it causes. In general, the H1N1 virus is causing moderate illness. Most affected people recover at home without medical treatment.

“While the situation is serious, the WHO has recommended that international borders remain open and that trade and commerce continue to move freely.

“The phase 6 designation is not a reason to further restrict trade. Unfortunately, some trade partners are still maintaining restrictions on Canadian imports, without any scientifically justifiable evidence to support their actions. We will continue to work with these countries to help them make an informed decision and reinstate all trade in pork and live hogs.

“Canadian farmers produce safe, top-quality pork. It is important for consumers to remember the international scientific community agrees that H1N1 cannot be transmitted by properly cooked meat. It is also important to refer to this flu virus by its proper name, H1N1, to make sure there is no confusion about the safety and quality of Canadian pork.

“Canada’s missions abroad have been extremely active in communicating with our trade partners and highlighting the safety of Canadian products. Their efforts have produced real results. Along with the good work of our officials, we have personally intervened with other countries to make this point and to get agreement from them to lift restrictions.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with all our partners to ensure the safety of Canadians and Canadian exports.”

In 2008, total Canadian pork exports were valued at $2.7 billion, including nearly $527 million worth of Canadian live swine exports.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
www.internationaltrade.gc.ca

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
613-759-7972
1-866-345-7972

Meagan Murdoch
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
613-759-1059