Canadian Poultry Magazine

Honouring an Industry Leader and Innovator

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Deborah Whale’s commitment to research and industry recognized as she steps down as chair of the Poultry Industry Council

10The Poultry Industry Council (PIC) recently honoured one of its own at its 35th annual health conference, held in Guelph, Ontario, this past November.

Deborah Whale was formally recognized for her many achievements as former chair of the PIC and her dedication to enhancing research and education within Canada’s poultry industry.  Whale recently stepped down as chair, having served the PIC in that capacity since 1998.


Whale has been instrumental in improving poultry research capacity in Canada. With her keen ability to predict industry hurdles, she initiated the ability of the poultry industry and other livestock industries to respond to future challenges through the creation of the Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council.

During her tenure as PIC chair, Deborah helped increase research funding for poultry from $143,000 to more than $500,000 annually.  This funding was extended across Canada and information could be shared and obtained by anyone via the PIC.  Her dedication to research led to her involvement in the formation of the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) in 2001, which facilitates research federally.

She was also influential in the creation of the Poultry Program Team in 2000.  This team, consisting of leading researchers, is the result of a memorandum of agreement between the PIC, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and the University of Guelph. 

A leader in recognizing the importance – and industry lack – of disease preparedness, Whale spearheaded the following: 
September 2000:

Arranged an industry team to visit North Carolina to see first hand disease preparedness against avian influenza before first high path AI outbreak in B.C. had occurred. 
June 2003, November 2003, October 2005:
Table-top exercises were held to demonstrate how unprepared the  industry was to deal with a disease like avian influenza. 

October 2004:
First field simulation was held featuring the poultry industry and avian influenza. 

January 2005:
Deborah was instrumental in the creation of the Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council (OLPC).  The OLPC is now leading the way in disease preparedness and response, and investigating the possibility of having agricultural insurance against infectious disease. 

January 2006:
The PIC was the lead organization for Phase I of PSRMP (Private Sector Risk  Management Partnership) where service sectors within the poultry industry developed Standard Operating Procedures for on-farm visits. 

February 2006:
PIC was selected to advise on the use of $800,000 in AAFC funding for on-farm biosecurity initiatives. Within this, PIC, OMAFRA and University of Guelph partnered to develop an educational package to bring non-regulated flocks up to speed on bio-security and disease preparedness.  

November 2006:
The OLPC has continued to lobby for an Animal Health Act (AHA) in Ontario. OMAFRA recently produced a discussion paper that may lead to the creation of an AHA in Ontario.

To honour her many achievements, the PIC has created a scholarship to be awarded annually to a deserving University of Guelph poultry science M.Sc. or PhD student. It is fittingly named  “The Poultry Industry Council/Deborah Whale Scholarship.”  The scholarship will have its first recipient in September 2007. 

Interim PIC Chair Ed McKinlay of McKinlay Farms announced the scholarship and said that it “represents an investment in the poultry industry and will remind us of Deborah’s commitment to research and education, which is constant.” 

McKinlay also commented on how the sophistication of the PIC was increased during her tenure and that “Ontario is privileged to have a leader such as Deborah.”

She was also recognized in August of 2000 at the World Poultry Congress, where she received an International Award for Excellence in Education and Extension in recognition of the PIC’s education efforts.

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