While governments around the world take steps to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic, work continues to ensure plants in Canada remain free of disease.
Design and construction contracts have been awarded for the new Centre for Plant health in Sidney, which is currently set to open in 2024. Construction is set to begin later this year with $80 million allocated in the 2017 federal budget.
Operated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the centre ensures the cleanliness of plant material destined for growers, all exports of plant material and handles diagnostic services.
The centre played a key role in addressing plum pox virus in Ontario and rebuilding that province’s tender fruit industry. It is also a partner in ensuring clean exports of strawberry plants, a business worth nearly $20 million annually.
In the interim, a recent infusion of federal funding will provide for the hiring of three full-time equivalent positions to expand the centre’s research capacity.
The funding is part of a $40 million increase in the CFIA’s annual budget designed to support its efforts protect the integrity of Canada’s food supply.