A former professor and graduate of University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is taking on a key role at Health Canada as the country faces the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Harpreet Kochhar has been appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Canada’s new associate deputy minister of health. Kochhar will move into the role immediately to help support the federal government ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19.
Kochhar is a veterinarian and received his PhD in animal biotechnology from U of G before becoming an assistant professor in OVC’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.
“The knowledge he gained as a veterinarian with expertise in biotechnology at the U of G will enable Dr. Kochhar to apply a One Health approach in the fight against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” said Cate Dewey, associate vice president (academic).
Kochhar joined the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in 2002 as an animal biotechnology policy specialist. During his time there, he took on several roles, including executive director of operations strategy and delivery.
He was appointed Canada’s chief veterinary officer in 2014, helping manage emerging disease threats to protect animal and human health and maintain international trust in Canada’s inspection and certification systems.
Later, he served as an expert on animal biotechnology for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Before this week’s announcement, Kochhar was the assistant deputy minister in the operations sector of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.