FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area Number of Meat Inspectors Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1) Meat Inspectors on the job Number of meat facilities Facilities per inspector
Toronto 34 8.5 25.5 117 4.6
Montreal 45 11.25 33.75 160 4.7
Northern Alberta 10 2.5 7.5 38 5.0
Greater Vancouver 9 2.25 6.75 40 5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector shortage compromising food safety

Ottawa – Many of Sheila Weatherill’s recommendations make a constructive and valuable contribution to improving the safety of food in Canada and should be implemented immediately, even though it appears that the CFIA and others in government have either withheld information or misled her, according to the union representing federal food inspectors.

“It is stunning that the investigation was unable to determine the level of inspection resources at CFIA, even though she interviewed President Swan, Minister Ritz and others,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The parliamentary committee on food safety heard that inspectors were “grossly understaffed” during the period leading up to last summer’s outbreak.  According to the latest staffing levels assembled by the Union, federal meat inspectors continue to have an unmanageable workload which averages between 4 and 5 facilities per inspector.

Ms. Weatherill fails to call on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of inspectors and the inadequate level of inspection oversight.

“If the government fails to commit the financial resources to adequately staff food inspection, this report will be meaningless,” said Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President.

According to senior management, CFIA was under political direction to keep a low profile during the height of the outbreak last fall and during the general election.  Ms. Weatherill’s report fails to call the government to task on this matter.

Ms. Weatherill is highly critical of CFIA’s new approach to food inspection known as the Compliance Verification System (CVS), declaring it “needs critical improvements related to its design, planning and implementation”.

“Ms. Weatherill condemns CVS as a hastily developed and implemented system that has yet to undergo a proper scientific evaluation,” according to Kingston.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

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For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
Ottawa – The federal government should move quickly to implement recommendations concerning food inspection resources contained in a report tabled in Parliament this morning, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents government food inspectors.

Following two months of public hearings, the parliamentary food safety committee expressed concern about the inspector shortage and CFIA’s inability to accurately report on the number of meat inspectors and how much time they devote to hands-on inspection activities.

As a result, the committee called on the federal government to “undertake a comprehensive review of the resources, including training, that Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to properly implement, execute and enforce all food inspection activities and that the government make that review public”.

“I hope Minister Ritz acts without delay to implement this recommendation.  It is an essential first step to address the inspector shortage that is undermining food safety and consumer confidence,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC.

The committee also called on the CFIA to co-operate with the Agriculture Union to “find the means and technology such that they can provide accurate, real-time evaluation of inspector resources”.

“Minister Ritz and his cabinet colleagues have every right to accurate and timely information they need to make informed spending decisions.  CFIA failed to meet this expectation,” Kingston said.

For example, Minister Ritz has publicly stated that 58 new meat inspectors had been hired in 2009, only to be contradicted later by the CFIA which wrote to the food safety committee that “Of these 57 full time resources or FTEs, none are dedicated to meat inspection”.

The committee’s concern about inspection resources was the result of compelling evidence and testimony:

  • Don Irons, a meat inspection supervisor responsible for the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto whose product killed 22 Canadians last year, testified that “…we were grossly resourced, starved…” in the months prior to the outbreak.

When asked if anything has changed, does he now have the resources needed to ensure the food we eat is safe, Mr. Irons replied “no, I do not”.

  • A CFIA briefing note to the Minister declared the “Inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.
  • Inspectors at the Maple Leaf Foods Bartor Rd. plant spent as little as 15 minutes a day at the plant according to timesheets released by the CFIA.
  • Most inspectors are unable to verify that food companies are complying with safety requirements because they have too many facilities to inspect.

The Agriculture Union welcomes the CFIA’s new listeria policy and agrees with the Conservative MPs on the committee that it is important that CFIA inspectors conduct their own testing for the presence of bacteria in the environment of food factories, but cautions these new duties must be accompanied by new inspection personnel to carry them out.

The committee also recommended measures to restore some transparency to the food industry by calling for a return to the practice of making public meat establishment audits reports that were killed in 2006.  This recommendation is supported by the Agriculture Union.

-30-

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – A new staffing survey shows the critical shortage of inspectors in meat processing plants in Canada continues to make it impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules.

“These numbers show an inspectorate staffed far below minimum levels.  With individual inspectors being in charge of five facilities on average it’s just not possible to verify that safety rules are being following in Canadian processed meat facilities, ” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents CFIA food inspectors.

The union conducted a spot check in four metropolitan centres where meat processing facilities are concentrated.  Internal CFIA sources were consulted to determine the number of meat inspectors on staff as well as the number that would actually be available for duty after taking various forms of leave into account.

Meat Inspectors available to work in meat processing & cold storage facilities

Area

Number of Meat Inspectors

Meat Inspectors lost to leave (average of 25%1)

Meat Inspectors on the job

Number of meat facilities

Facilities per inspector

Toronto

34

8.5

25.5

117

4.6

Montreal

45

11.25

33.75

160

4.7

Northern Alberta

10

2.5

7.5

38

5.0

Greater Vancouver

9

2.25

6.75

40

5.9

Despite being briefed on the shortage and the fact that CFIA missed signs of trouble at the Maple Leaf plant in the months leading up to last summer’s deadly outbreak, Minister Ritz continues to deny the problem.

According to a CFIA briefing note, Mr. Ritz was briefed in January 2009 by the CFIA that the “inspection program (is) experiencing workload challenges in meeting delivery requirements”.  The Minister was advised during the same briefing that “in-depth assessment of the plant revealed that Maple Leaf Foods experienced challenges in environmental control and sanitation in May and June 2008”, just before the outbreak.

“Minister Ritz should admit the problem and get on with addressing it.  Until he does there is a very good chance we’ll see the same problems that led to the outbreak escaping the notice of harried inspectors.  There’s a shortage of meat inspectors, plain and simple,” Kingston said.

Facilities canvassed include meat processing plants where ready-to-eat and prepared meats are produced.  These kind of facilities range from very large businesses like the Montreal-based firm Olymel L.P. which employs more than 10,000 people, to much smaller companies.  The survey also includes cold storage facilities which are clearing facilities for the certification of food imports and exports.

The Agriculture Union has calculated that it is impossible for meat inspectors to complete verification tasks at more than two ready-to-eat meat processing facilities.

Without counting hours required for enforcement activities that must be launched when safety rules are breeched, or time required to travel between locations, the union estimates inspectors need approximately 800 hours a year to fully complete inspection tasks association with the new Compliance Verification System at each ready-to-eat facility for which they have responsibility.  Add to this hundreds of hours for import and export certification and various types of leave and it quickly adds up to mission impossible for inspectors assigned to five facilities.

“The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of last summer’s tragedy was responsible for six other facilities at the time.  This was a factor in the tragedy.  Our survey demonstrates most meat inspectors have workloads almost as heavy and certainly too heavy to properly do their jobs,” Kingston said.

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For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

1Most human resource experts allow for a 30% leave factor.