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Simon Shields, Lawyer

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Since 2005

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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Public Health Act (Manitoba)

(current to 01 September 2016)

Note Re Application of the Public Health Act ('PHA')

Like most provincial public health statutes, the concern of Manitoba's Public Health Act ('PHA') respecting animals is in their potential role as vectors of zoonotic diseases (diseases transmissible between animals and humans). The definition of an 'animal or other organism' simply as 'not including a human being' [PHA 1(1)], makes it plain that the PHA makes no distinction between domestic and wild animals, though in practice it can be expected that it is applied overwhelmongly to domestic animals (particularly livestock) and in rodent control.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • HUMAN HEALTH
  • EXTERMINATION
  • SALE
The full current text of the Public Health Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Manitoba statute website.

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1. Overview

The primary operative concepts of the PHA, both generally and as they relate to animals, are defined as follows [PHA 1(1)]:
  • 'communicable diseases' "means an illness that is caused by the transmission of an infectious agent or its toxic products directly or indirectly from an infected person, animal or plant, an inanimate object or the environment" [PHA 1(1)]; and

  • 'health hazard' means "a plant, animal or other organism ... that presents or might present a threat to public health".

2. Medical Officer of Health and Other Orders

Appointed medical officers of health ('MOHs') [PHA 18] may make health hazard Orders if "necessary to prevent, eliminate, remedy, reduce or otherwise deal with it" [PHA 24(1)]. Such Orders may be made to "a person who owns or is in charge of, or appears to be in charge of, a plant, animal or other organism" [PHA 25]. Other PHA functionaries (inspectors and health officers) may make similar health hazard Orders [PHA 24(2)].

Such Orders may require "a person to do or cause anything to be done, or refrain from doing anything, that the person making the order reasonably considers necessary to prevent, eliminate, remedy, reduce or otherwise deal with the health hazard", including to [PHA 26(1)]:
  • "isolate, hold, contain, remove or destroy a plant, animal or other organism, a substance or thing, or a solid, liquid or gas";

  • "eliminate or reduce the number of animals or other organisms — whether intentionally kept or otherwise found in a place or on premises — that might transmit a communicable disease";

  • "quarantine a place or premises that is occupied or has been occupied by an animal or other organism that might transmit a communicable disease";

  • "refrain from using, or limit the use of, a plant, animal or other organism, a substance or thing, or a solid, liquid or gas";

  • "refrain from or limit manufacturing, processing, storing, handling, displaying, transporting, selling, distributing, or the offering for sale or distribution of a plant, animal or other organism, a substance or thing, or a solid, liquid or gas";

  • "treat or quarantine an animal".
As well, an MOH may seize, for examination and prevention purposes, "any plant, animal or other organism, substance or any other thing, or a representative sample of any of them, that he or she reasonably believes is a health hazard" [PHA 30(1)].

And, where there is a "serious and immediate threat to public health", MOHs may make emergency health hazard Orders or take direct emergency action as required to "prevent, eliminate, remedy, reduce or otherwise deal with it" [PHA 33].


3. Duty to Report Health Hazards

Citizens generally may, but health and veterinary professionals must, report suspected health hazards, reportable diseases and zoonotic diseases to PHA health authorities [PHA 40-41].

Full details of these duties, including the listed zoonotic diseases of concern (particularly rabies) [see ss.11-18 and Schedule B, Part 2], are set out in the Reporting of Diseases and Conditions Regulation.


4. Some Species-Specific Rules

The Disease Control Regulation ('DC Reg') sets out a couple of species-specific duties, as follows [DC Regs 6-7]:
  • retail sale of small and moderately-sized turtles (shells less than 6 inches) must be accompanied by a posted health pecautions warning (hand-washing, no contact with food, and a caution re children);

  • raccoons and skunks may only be kept in zoos and medical or research facilities, with an exception for raccoon rehabilitation conducted under proper Wildlife Act-issued permit.

5. Pest Control

The Fumigation and Pest Control Regulation ('FPC Reg') contains PHA rules respecting fumigation and other pest control operations, including permit issuance and technical fumigation requirements. It does not define 'pests' as such, but does refer to "rodents and other pests" [FPC Regs 1], and it's provisions make it plain that it is directly primarily at rats and mice.


6. Civil Liability

"(T)he minister, the chief public health officer, a director, a medical officer, an inspector, a health officer, a public health nurse or any other person acting under the authority of this Act", or anyone assisting them, are immune from liability for "for anything done or not done, or for any neglect", in the performance or exercise of duties and powers under the PHA [PHA 106(1)].

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