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Canada names new top veterinarian

Canada names new top veterinarian

Dr. Mary Jane Ireland has many years of experience working to promote animal and human health and protect Canada’s food supply 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer 

Dr. Mary Jane Ireland will take over for Dr. Jaspinder Komal as Canada’s chief veterinary officer (CVO) and delegate to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). 

She joined the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as executive director of the animal health directorate in 2020, prior to which she spent 15 years working at Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate. 

“As the CVO and OIE Delegate for Canada, as well as the executive director of the Animal Health Directorate at the CFIA, I am responsible for representing Canada internationally at the OIE on issues related to animal and veterinary public health,” Ireland told

“Over the last 4 years, Dr. Komal has shown extraordinary leadership and made major contributions as the CVO and OIE Delegate,” she said.  

“Representing Canada at the OIE is an important role that I am stepping into following Dr. Komal. The international standards set by the OIE are important for ensuring safe and fair trade for our livestock sector, animal health and welfare, and transparent global disease reporting,” she explained. “I look forward to working closely with our partners in Canada in the standard setting process and continuing Canada’s active engagement with the OIE to address the challenges of the future.”

Ireland will take over work on specific challenges, such as African swine fever (ASF) prevention and preparedness and maintaining Canada’s new negligible Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk status. 

“Addressing the threat of ASF has been a major area of work both nationally and internationally. I will continue to contribute to the incredible collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments and industry representatives to address the risk of ASF introduction and establishment in Canada,” Ireland said.  

“Canada was recently recognized by the OIE as a country with negligible risk status for BSE; an important milestone for our cattle sector,” she added. “As the delegate, I will be working with partners to ensure Canada maintains this status by continuing to meet the requirements of the OIE’s annual reconfirmation process.”

Longer-term priorities for Ireland’s role as CVO include “taking a critical look at Canada's veterinary infrastructure for the long-term and its ability to respond to national and global threats to animal and human health. This is essential to maintaining international confidence in Canada’s inspection and certification systems in support of market access,” she explained.

“We will also continue our active engagement with the OIE and ensuring international standards are based on sound science (and) work with like-minded countries to help influence the international standard setting body in its efforts to ensure safe trade of products and protect against animal diseases,” she added. 

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