The mink are gone, but not the legal challenges.
The first livestock sector shut down by the province is continuing its fight against a November 2021 order that immediately ended breeding activities and require the removal of all live mink from the province’s nine farms by this past April. The industry, which produced 318,000 mink a year at the time of the order, must cease all operations by 2025.
Five producers shut down by the ban have filed suit against the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the province’s top vet at the time, Dr. Rayna Gunvaldsen, seeking damages related to the abrupt and sudden loss of their multigenerational family businesses.
These include damages for economic and business losses stemming from the ban, the cost of winding down their businesses and “emotional pain and suffering.”
The statements of claim filed by the producers allege that the “the decision was not related to animal health or public health as required under the legislative scheme, but rather that it was for political, social and public opinion or an otherwise improper purpose.”
The claims note that BC is the only province to have banned mink farming, whereas Nova Scotia proceeded with a vaccination program designed to protect both mink and humans.
In the case of BC, the province required vaccination of mink farm workers (something Henry now urges for those working with poultry in view of the ongoing avian influenza outbreak) but ignored suggestions that mink be vaccinated.
Instead, it banned mink farming altogether – something it had been lobbied to do for months by the BC SPCA and the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, including just three weeks before the ban was announced.
The claims by producers follow an industry action filed in February 2022 by the BC Mink Producers Association and Canada Mink Breeders Association challenging the province’s ban. That case is currently with the BC Court of Appeals and may eventually come before the Supreme Court of Canada.