- Who – Swine Health Ontario, Ontario Pork, Ontario Pork Industry Council, and Associated Industry Partners
- What – An emergency management system to increase industry capacity to manage significant swine health and industry incidents
- Where – Based out of Guelph, the OSICC coordinates efforts across Ontario
- When – Conceptualization of OSICC began mid 2018 and is ongoing in development, implementation and continuous improvement
- Why – To ensure a coordinated and effective industry response to significant swine specific diseases and industry incidents
Rapid detection and response to emerging incidents (e.g. disease or non-disease related market interruptions) are critical to animal agriculture. Incidents can threaten animal health and welfare, food security, and public health. They can also impact the livelihood of producers and industry partners and may limit access to important markets. This is particularly critical in the Ontario swine industry, which is highly export dependent.
Pork production is a major contributor to the economy of both Ontario and the Canada. Ontario’s “farm to fork” pork industry generates $2.8 billion in economic output and 14,274 in full-time equivalent jobs. A large scale incident would have widespread impact on the pork sector, aligned agricultural services and suppliers (such as feed, equipment, veterinarians, transportation), pork processors and further processors, rural communities, and the overall Ontario economy. If such an incident was not dealt with in an effective and timely manner, there would be significant financial losses. In addition, if export markets were closed to Canadian animals or meat products due to a disease or other trade issue, we could quickly be faced with a humane slaughter situation.
Industry has a role to play in incident response, whether it is in a supportive role with government partners or a lead role when the incident does not fall under governmental jurisdiction. Disease-related incidents may include those with multi-species impact or diseases with zoonotic potential, which would involve additional response partners (other commodity groups for the former and human health ministries and agencies for the latter).
However, there are unique challenges in the Ontario swine industry as a non-supply managed industry; voluntary industry participation and coordination between stakeholders is required. Some of these challenges were highlighted in the industry response to the PEDv outbreak in 2014. Those learnings resulted in the development of Swine Health Ontario (SHO).
SHO is a leadership team comprised of representatives from Ontario Pork, the Ontario Pork Industry Council (OPIC), along with ex-officio representation from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). SHO was formed to facilitate a collaborative approach to improving and better coordinating the pork industry’s efforts to prevent, prepare for and respond to serious swine health threats in Ontario. SHO subsequently identified the development of an Ontario Swine Incident Command Centre (OSICC) structure for industry disease response, following the principles of Incident Management Systems (IMS), as a key strategic goal.
IMS is a standardized approach to emergency management encompassing personnel, facilities, equipment, procedures and communications operating within a common organizational structure. Having a standardized structure and articulated functions for managing incidents allows all pork supply stakeholders and government agencies to work together using a common approach and understanding. Everyone understands roles, what they and others are responsible for and what they should be doing (and not doing).
The implementation of an OSICC structure is focused on improving the industry’s capacity to respond to large scale incidents in a coordinated, collaborative fashion. The two end goals of the OSICC are clear communication and improved emergency response both on farms and by the associated swine industry.