Animal Health and Welfare Branch

The Animal Health and Welfare Branch (AHWB) advances farm animal health and welfare and veterinary public health through education, inspection, surveillance, programs, research and emergency preparedness. While the health and welfare of animals is a shared responsibility with others including industry and the federal government, the AHWB plays a leadership role for Ontario in efforts to effectively manage the prevention, detection and response to animal health incidents of public concern, the outcomes of which include:

  • Ontario's agriculture, agri-food and agri-product sectors seize opportunities to respond to market and public demand, including the attainment of a higher level of recognized standards and codes of practice
  • Animal and plant disease, pest, and food safety hazards and antimicrobial use along the supply chain is anticipated, detected, mitigated and/or reduced

Veterinary scientists and staff develop standards, deliver technical support to inspectors and veterinarians, and deliver preventive programs. They also provide inspection services in licenced livestock auction markets, dead stock facilities, animal research facilities and livestock medicine outlets.

The AHWB is made up of three units. The work of three units work focuses on the achievement of the branch's vision of the proactive and effective management of animal health and welfare risks in Ontario:

Veterinary Science

The goal of staff in the Veterinary Science Unit (VSU) is to advance animal health and welfare and protect public health. Veterinary staff assess the risks related to emerging animal health and welfare threats and hazards, collaborate with industry stakeholders, private veterinarians and federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) government partners, and participate in provincial and national efforts to advance animal health and welfare issues. VSU staff engage in veterinary practitioner and producer education and outreach activities to facilitate animal health and welfare improvements in the livestock and poultry industries and to support and strengthen the veterinary infrastructure in the province.

Veterinary Services

The Veterinary Services Unit (VSvU) delivers the regulatory programs related to a variety of animal health and welfare statutes that support public health, animal health and animal welfare in the province, including the Livestock Community Sales Act, the Food Safety and Quality Act (disposal of deadstock), and the Bees Act. The unit also contributes to branch emergency preparedness planning and supports response activities which may include responding under the Animal Health Act, 2009.

VSvU field inspectors, including part-time bee inspectors, are deployed throughout the province to deliver inspection services based on a combination of risk-based analysis and public complaints . They apply Modern Regulator principles with the aim of gaining voluntary compliance and providing education where needed; regulatory enforcement is engaged as a last resort.

Strategy, Programs and Issues

The Strategy, Programs and Issues Unit (SPIU) leads or supports a broad range of branch initiatives. Focus is on the development of various strategies and frameworks, development and delivery of programs, and coordination of the issues management process. The SPIU provides resource capacity to the branch with analytical, project management, communications and facilitation skills. The unit works closely with branch colleagues, in the planning, development, delivery, review and evaluation of the branch's animal health and welfare programs.

Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario

The Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario (OCVO) is embedded in the Animal Health and Welfare Branch. The Chief Veterinarian for Ontario is appointed by the Minister under Ontario's Animal Health Act to provide leadership on significant animal and human health incidents and farmed animal emergencies in the province. Emergency response efforts involve close collaboration with the livestock industry, veterinarians, the federal government, other ministries and municipalities as appropriate.

The Chief Veterinarian for Ontario is a liaison with other agencies including:

  • Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management;
  • Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada; and the
  • Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).

General Inquiry:

5th Floor NW, 1 Stone Road West
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
N1G 4Y2
Phone: (519) 826-4180
1-888-466-2372 ext 6-4180 (Ontario only)
Fax: (519) 826-4375
INFO GO (Office Directory)


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca


Author: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Food Safety Environmental Division, Animal Health and Welfare Branch
Creation Date: November 2008
Last Reviewed: February 2018