INFLUENCING POLICY & PRACTICE

The CWHC is a trusted partner in wildlife health, being sought after to facilitate and lead national plans and local strategies, enable and support program design, evolution and coordination, and provide expert advice and leadership on some of the most pressing and perplexing wildlife disease issues confronting Canada.

A key role of the CWHC is to provide evidence and expertise to support policy and decision making to ensure: a safe, secure, sustainable Canada; market access; transparent, accountable and responsive programs; sustained economic and cultural opportunities; and international engagement.

The full spectrum of CWHC activities are incorporated in support of this key role, from discovery and information gathering to knowledge mobilization to facilitation and advocacy. For instance CWHC members contribute to numerous working groups and committees: representing Canada at international meetings, serving as national sources of expertise and supporting management programs. CWHC produces risk assessments, knowledge reviews, policy assessment and research that informs policy and practice. This includes being an OIE Collaborating Centre that builds international wildlife health capacity that subsequently reduces external risks to Canada.

Given the role and reputation of the CWHC as a trusted and neutral knowledge broker, the CWHC facilitates and enables teams to turn knowledge into management action. Based on its position and partnerships, the CWHC serves as a focal point to coordinate and link federal, provincial and territorial programs, priorities and information. This includes our role as a spearhead, a secretariat and facilitator of national strategies and plans to address wildlife health challenges. The national strategies for White Nose Syndrome (WNS) and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) are two examples.

Further examples at the program level include Canada's National Avian Influenza Surveillance program for wild birds, conceptualized, designed and lead by the CWHC this program is intended to identify gaps in national capacity for situational awareness regarding pandemic risk levels and detection of novel Avian Influenza strain incursions.

In addition to a CWD national strategy, the CWHC was also first to detect cases of CWD in the wild in Canada. Moving from detection and surveillance the CWHC identified and conducted priority research identify spread and risks, and finally facilitated and lead international working group and helped to develop the national strategy.

Similarly, the CWHC response to WNS, a devastating disease of North American bats, ranged from the diseases first detection in Canada to include ongoing tracking, to a coordinated and harmonized national approach to encourage change.