Vet says new provincial job isn't enough
A new provincial veterinary position has been created on P.E.I. by the the Department of Agriculture and the Atlantic Veterinary College, but one of the province's top vets worries it doesn't go far enough.
Kim MacDonald is the president of the PEI Veterinary Medical Society and for the past two years, she's been calling on the province to employ a full or part-time chief veterinary Officer.
P.E.I. is the only jurisdiction in Canada without one.
"I've been in communication with Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada and quite frankly, it's been considered quite an embarrassment," said MacDonald.
Since the 1980s, P.E.I. has been the only province without a chief veterinary officer.
MacDonald said a chief veterinary officer would be responsible for food safety issues, disease outbreak management and attend national chief veterinary meetings.
"To get continual updates on disease surveillance and risk management, to be able to put measures in place to prevent a disease outbreak from happening here," MacDonald said.
Enforcing animal protection laws
A chief would also enforce animal protection laws.
Macdonald pointed to animal cruelty cases like the Bud Wheatley case, an online pet seller who sentenced to jail time for cruelty to animals.
"The Department of Agriculture has been called out to deal with these instances and they're scrambling to find a veterinarian to go out and inspect the animals and make those judgement calls. If we had a chief veterinary officer in place, we'd have one person to make those judgement calls and perhaps would've happened a little more quickly than it has in the past," she said.
The province recently signed an agreement with the Atlantic Veterinary College to try and address the lack of a chief veterinary officer.
The AVC has agreed to provide a provincial veterinarian to handle disease control and provide advice on animal health and welfare.
Macdonald isn't convinced that move will be enough.
"I think it's definitely a great step in the right direction," MacDonald told CBC News.
"I'm not sure if they are going to encompass all of the duties of a chief veterinary officer and attend all of the meetings where all of this valuable information would be coming back to P.E.I."
Handling disease control
MacDonald heard about the new provincial veterinarian Tuesday.
She said its still unclear what powers the provincial vet will have, whether it's a full-time or part-time position, or even who it is.
Agriculture Minister George Webster nor a representative from his department would accept request from CBC News for an interview.
She said right now, there are national level meetings happening and there is no vet from P.E.I at the table