Official Records for 02 December 2008
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Mrs. Carol Mitchell: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Minister, there has been some media attention lately associated with the sale and distribution of raw milk. Ontario has required pasteurization for over 70 years in order to kill pathogens which can flourish in raw milk if it’s not properly handled. Advocates have suggested that our law banning raw milk is antiquated, as new technologies are now in place that could allow raw milk to be safely produced, sold and distributed to consumers across the province.
Minister, can you explain the government’s policy on raw milk and why we should continue to not allow it to be sold in this province?
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: I’m delighted to have the opportunity to address this issue that we have been reading about in the media a good deal in recent weeks and months. Food safety is a priority of the government of Ontario. I appreciate the arguments that have been made about consumer choice, but I think it is very important that the government take the responsibility very seriously.
In order to reduce the presence of food-borne bacteria, we do require that all milk that’s sold in the province is to be pasteurised. A little bit of history on this: It was the rural women in Ontario, through the Ontario Women’s Institute, who went to then-Premier Mitch Hepburn-and I know you know that great character in Ontario history-and convinced the Premier of the day why it was important to reduce illnesses and deaths of Ontario citizens by requiring that milk in the province of Ontario be pasteurized before-
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mrs. Carol Mitchell: I certainly appreciate that the government strives to protect the health of all Ontarians, and I think all members of this House stand united behind support for government doing all that it can to protect public health. However, these same people will argue that times have changed and that things are different now from when Premier Hepburn was in power. They will also say that they have the ability to sell and distribute raw milk, and it could open up new market opportunities for our farmers. Minister, does the government have any plans to study this issue before closing the door on raw milk products?
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: I’d like to make two points on that. First of all, I’d like to quote from Dr. Murray McQuigge, who is the medical officer of health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit, who said, “To be blunt, there were no good old days when it came to the harm that raw milk inflicted on thousands of people…. To bring in legislation to allow the sale and distribution of raw milk would be tantamount to manslaughter” in the province of Ontario. That’s from the chief medical officer of health.
The other thing I think that people in Ontario need to be aware of, one thing that has not changed, is that E. coli bacteria is deadly, and we in the province of Ontario don’t have to look back very far in our history to know that. It is for that reason that our government remains absolutely committed to ensuring that we have legislation in place that will make sure that all milk and milk products sold in the province of Ontario will have been pasteurized before they are made available to the public. This is good sense.
Who are these people and how can you get in touch with them?
|Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
777 Bay St, 17th Flr
Toronto ON M5G 2E5
Tel : 416-585-6768
Fax : 416-585-6777
|49 – 50 Albert St
Clinton ON N0M 1L0
Tel : 519-482-5630
Fax : 519-482-3149
322 Lambton St
Prince Edward-Hastings, Liberal
|Ministry of Agriculture and Food
77 Grenville St, 11th Flr
Toronto ON M5S 1B3,
Tel : 416-326-3074
Fax : 416-326-3083
|15 Dairy Ave
Napanee ON K7R 1M4
Tel : 613-354-6630
Fax : 613-354-0232
Toll Free : 1-877-536-6248
81 Millennium Parkway, Unit C
Michael Schmidt thought it was interesting that it was a Liberal who was raising this question. [Ed — I guess that’s in reference to the role of the Liberal government in defeating MPP Bill Murdoch’s private member’s bill to study questions around raw milk, back in 2006. Bill Murdoch is a conservative MPP from Grey Bruce.]
The Bovine notes that Murray McQuigge is no longer the medical officer of health for Grey Bruce. And we are encouraged to see that people like Carol Mitchell are getting the message that raw milk could be a major growth opportunity for Ontario’s dairy industry — presuming of course, the kind of deep, process-based quality assurance that’s being pioneered at Glencolton Farms. We think there’s some progress being shown here.