Thank you, Karen Chad for the kind introduction. Greetings to everyone.
It is a real honour to be here today on this campus with so many distringuished guests, officials and academic leaders. In particular my thanks go to those who showed me around this morning - to President Peter MacKinnon, Dr. Andy Potter and Cam Ewart.
Greetings also to Peter Brenders of Biotech. Greetings also to Premier Wall, to Mayor Atcheson, as well as to my colleagues, Minister Lynne Yelich and also your Members of Parliament Kelly Block and Randy Hobak. I can tell you, they are doing great work on your behalf in the Parliament of Canada, so please them all a hand.
Biotec Canada could not have chosen a better event at which to kick-off National Biotechnology Week. Canadian advances in life sciences can only make our economy stronger. Of course, the economy is the top priority of this government, and we all know that you simply can’t build a modern economy without investing in world-class research.
That is why I am so proud of the stellar work being done by Canadian scientists here in Saskatoon and all over our great country.
As this government moves forward with our Economic Action Plan, we will continue to create and protect jobs by keeping taxes down, by expanding trade, and by investing in training and in research - research that creates new technologies and creates new opportunities for Canadians.
That’s why I’m so excited that InterVac is opening today. It builds on the expertise that can already be found in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. This organization has made a strong contribution to academic research and to our economy - research leading to 80 U.S. patents and eight commercial vaccines.
So there’s already a great tradition of research right here on this campus
at the University of Saskatchewan. I am confident that InterVac will take it to the next level. This new, modern facility represents the largest investment in vaccine and infectious disease research ever made in Canada. It is a great example of a successful partnership between the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Province, the City and of course, the University.
InterVac will contribute to Canadian research, to Canadian agriculture,
to the Canadian economy, and ultimately, to Canadian health and well-being. What makes InterVac special is that it is one of only a handful of labs of it’s kind in North America - one that is big enough to study larger animals. To put the technology into layman’s terms, InterVac can put cattle under the proverbial microscope in the most secure, air-tight environment.
The ability to study diseases and to test vaccines on livestock, is absolutely critical to protecting our food supply. I want to emphasize this point. The stakes are enormous. One small outbreak of disease can destroy whole herds. It can ruin the lives of scores of ranchers. And it can cost the taxpayers massive amounts of money:
As Canadians we saw 18 cattle infected with BSE lead to industry losses
of about six and a half billion dollars. That’s why we are so determined
to catch disease before disease catches us.
So the economic benefits are critical - not only to the research community -but also to farmers, to meat producers and to everyone whose job depends
on the success of Canadian agriculture. That’s why we are counting on InterVac to find more new vaccines.
As we learn more about how to keep livestock healthy we can use that knowledge to keep people safe too. After all, nearly 80 percent of newer infectious diseases affect both animals and humans. These include emerging strains of afflictions like SARS, HIV, avian influenza, H1N1 and West Nile.
As a centre at the leading edge of research, InterVac will thus help
reduce the risk of world-wide pandemics. This is a first-class laboratory. It will attract leading researchers from the world over, and it will train the students who will help keep our livestock healthy and our food supply secure for generations to come.
This is a facility and an investment that all people in this province, and all Canadians can take pride in.
To sum up, this investment in research and in training at InterVac, is a perfect example of how our jobs strategy will keep Canada at the forefront
of the global economy for the long-term.
I wish you all success.
Thank you for having me.