Amy Minsky – Global News

May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — At the same time as Ottawa considers loosening regulations for slaughterhouses, the federal agency tasked with protecting food in Canada is having its budget slashed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency planning documents tabled in the House of Commons recently indicate the office will be seeing its budget drop $44.6 million over three years, falling to $677.3 million in 2014-15. The report also reveals the agency will lose the equivalent of 314 full-time employees during the same time-frame.

The Conservatives already indicated in the March budget that the CFIA was going to be dealing with less money, but they didn’t offer many hints as to where the savings would come from and which programs could be affected.

This month’s report on plans and priorities, however, suggest the food safety program — tasked with diminishing public health risks associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system — could take a hit of up to $18 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Government officials say funding for the food safety program could increase from those levels as Parliament approves proposed funding down the road, including millions laid out in Budget 2012.

Yet any cuts to food safety, opposition MPs say, are unacceptable and threaten the food Canadians consume.

“We’ve had an extremely good food safety program in this country, built up over the past number of years,” NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said in an interview. “And to keep it safe, we need to keep the integrity of CFIA and its budget intact.”

Meanwhile, last month, the government quietly announced proposed regulation changes for slaughterhouses, which would allow for carcasses of animals killed off-site to be processed in slaughterhouses and turned into food for human consumption.

Since the proposed changes to regulations for slaughterhouses was revealed, Allen has been demanding the government take the idea off the table and rethink any changes.

“You cannot just march down a road with regulatory changes and say that CFIA will help you control those regulations when you cut people and money out of the agency. It’s just not possible.”

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said neither the cuts to financial and human resources nor the proposed changes will reduce food safety in any way.

As it stands, animals killed outside of a registered slaughterhouse cannot be processed for human consumption.

But the proposed changes, first published in the Canada Gazette, would allow for exemptions under certain circumstances — for example if an animal is too aggressive or injured to be transported to the registered slaughterhouse.

The updated regulations would require a veterinarian to inspect the animal before it was killed, confirm it couldn’t be safely transported to the slaughterhouse, verify it was fit for human consumption and sign off on the date and method of slaughter.

The government is selling its idea under the banner of reducing red tape, being more practical for farmers and offering more flexibility for slaughterhouse operators.

© Shaw Media Inc.
Amy Minsky – Global News

May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — At the same time as Ottawa considers loosening regulations for slaughterhouses, the federal agency tasked with protecting food in Canada is having its budget slashed.

 

Canadian Food Inspection Agency planning documents tabled in the House of Commons recently indicate the office will be seeing its budget drop $44.6 million over three years, falling to $677.3 million in 2014-15. The report also reveals the agency will lose the equivalent of 314 full-time employees during the same time-frame.

 

The Conservatives already indicated in the March budget that the CFIA was going to be dealing with less money, but they didn’t offer many hints as to where the savings would come from and which programs could be affected.

 

This month’s report on plans and priorities, however, suggest the food safety program — tasked with diminishing public health risks associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system — could take a hit of up to $18 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

 

Government officials say funding for the food safety program could increase from those levels as Parliament approves proposed funding down the road, including millions laid out in Budget 2012.

 

Yet any cuts to food safety, opposition MPs say, are unacceptable and threaten the food Canadians consume.

 

“We’ve had an extremely good food safety program in this country, built up over the past number of years,” NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said in an interview. “And to keep it safe, we need to keep the integrity of CFIA and its budget intact.”

Meanwhile, last month, the government quietly announced proposed regulation changes for slaughterhouses, which would allow for carcasses of animals killed off-site to be processed in slaughterhouses and turned into food for human consumption.

Since the proposed changes to regulations for slaughterhouses was revealed, Allen has been demanding the government take the idea off the table and rethink any changes.

“You cannot just march down a road with regulatory changes and say that CFIA will help you control those regulations when you cut people and money out of the agency. It’s just not possible.”

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said neither the cuts to financial and human resources nor the proposed changes will reduce food safety in any way.

As it stands, animals killed outside of a registered slaughterhouse cannot be processed for human consumption.

But the proposed changes, first published in the Canada Gazette, would allow for exemptions under certain circumstances — for example if an animal is too aggressive or injured to be transported to the registered slaughterhouse.

The updated regulations would require a veterinarian to inspect the animal before it was killed, confirm it couldn’t be safely transported to the slaughterhouse, verify it was fit for human consumption and sign off on the date and method of slaughter.

The government is selling its idea under the banner of reducing red tape, being more practical for farmers and offering more flexibility for slaughterhouse operators.
Amy Minsky – Global News

May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — At the same time as Ottawa considers loosening regulations for slaughterhouses, the federal agency tasked with protecting food in Canada is having its budget slashed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency planning documents tabled in the House of Commons recently indicate the office will be seeing its budget drop $44.6 million over three years, falling to $677.3 million in 2014-15. The report also reveals the agency will lose the equivalent of 314 full-time employees during the same time-frame.

The Conservatives already indicated in the March budget that the CFIA was going to be dealing with less money, but they didn’t offer many hints as to where the savings would come from and which programs could be affected.

This month’s report on plans and priorities, however, suggest the food safety program — tasked with diminishing public health risks associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system — could take a hit of up to $18 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Government officials say funding for the food safety program could increase from those levels as Parliament approves proposed funding down the road, including millions laid out in Budget 2012.

Yet any cuts to food safety, opposition MPs say, are unacceptable and threaten the food Canadians consume.

“We’ve had an extremely good food safety program in this country, built up over the past number of years,” NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said in an interview. “And to keep it safe, we need to keep the integrity of CFIA and its budget intact.”

Meanwhile, last month, the government quietly announced proposed regulation changes for slaughterhouses, which would allow for carcasses of animals killed off-site to be processed in slaughterhouses and turned into food for human consumption.

Since the proposed changes to regulations for slaughterhouses was revealed, Allen has been demanding the government take the idea off the table and rethink any changes.

“You cannot just march down a road with regulatory changes and say that CFIA will help you control those regulations when you cut people and money out of the agency. It’s just not possible.”

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said neither the cuts to financial and human resources nor the proposed changes will reduce food safety in any way.

As it stands, animals killed outside of a registered slaughterhouse cannot be processed for human consumption.

But the proposed changes, first published in the Canada Gazette, would allow for exemptions under certain circumstances — for example if an animal is too aggressive or injured to be transported to the registered slaughterhouse.

The updated regulations would require a veterinarian to inspect the animal before it was killed, confirm it couldn’t be safely transported to the slaughterhouse, verify it was fit for human consumption and sign off on the date and method of slaughter.

The government is selling its idea under the banner of reducing red tape, being more practical for farmers and offering more flexibility for slaughterhouse operators.

© Shaw Media Inc.
Amy Minsky – Global News

May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — At the same time as Ottawa considers loosening regulations for slaughterhouses, the federal agency tasked with protecting food in Canada is having its budget slashed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency planning documents tabled in the House of Commons recently indicate the office will be seeing its budget drop $44.6 million over three years, falling to $677.3 million in 2014-15. The report also reveals the agency will lose the equivalent of 314 full-time employees during the same time-frame.

The Conservatives already indicated in the March budget that the CFIA was going to be dealing with less money, but they didn’t offer many hints as to where the savings would come from and which programs could be affected.

This month’s report on plans and priorities, however, suggest the food safety program — tasked with diminishing public health risks associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system — could take a hit of up to $18 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Government officials say funding for the food safety program could increase from those levels as Parliament approves proposed funding down the road, including millions laid out in Budget 2012.

Yet any cuts to food safety, opposition MPs say, are unacceptable and threaten the food Canadians consume.

“We’ve had an extremely good food safety program in this country, built up over the past number of years,” NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said in an interview. “And to keep it safe, we need to keep the integrity of CFIA and its budget intact.”

Meanwhile, last month, the government quietly announced proposed regulation changes for slaughterhouses, which would allow for carcasses of animals killed off-site to be processed in slaughterhouses and turned into food for human consumption.

Since the proposed changes to regulations for slaughterhouses was revealed, Allen has been demanding the government take the idea off the table and rethink any changes.

“You cannot just march down a road with regulatory changes and say that CFIA will help you control those regulations when you cut people and money out of the agency. It’s just not possible.”

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said neither the cuts to financial and human resources nor the proposed changes will reduce food safety in any way.

As it stands, animals killed outside of a registered slaughterhouse cannot be processed for human consumption.

But the proposed changes, first published in the Canada Gazette, would allow for exemptions under certain circumstances — for example if an animal is too aggressive or injured to be transported to the registered slaughterhouse.

The updated regulations would require a veterinarian to inspect the animal before it was killed, confirm it couldn’t be safely transported to the slaughterhouse, verify it was fit for human consumption and sign off on the date and method of slaughter.

The government is selling its idea under the banner of reducing red tape, being more practical for farmers and offering more flexibility for slaughterhouse operators.

© Shaw Media Inc.
Amy Minsky – Global News

May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — At the same time as Ottawa considers loosening regulations for slaughterhouses, the federal agency tasked with protecting food in Canada is having its budget slashed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency planning documents tabled in the House of Commons recently indicate the office will be seeing its budget drop $44.6 million over three years, falling to $677.3 million in 2014-15. The report also reveals the agency will lose the equivalent of 314 full-time employees during the same time-frame.

The Conservatives already indicated in the March budget that the CFIA was going to be dealing with less money, but they didn’t offer many hints as to where the savings would come from and which programs could be affected.

This month’s report on plans and priorities, however, suggest the food safety program — tasked with diminishing public health risks associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system — could take a hit of up to $18 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Government officials say funding for the food safety program could increase from those levels as Parliament approves proposed funding down the road, including millions laid out in Budget 2012.

Yet any cuts to food safety, opposition MPs say, are unacceptable and threaten the food Canadians consume.

“We’ve had an extremely good food safety program in this country, built up over the past number of years,” NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said in an interview. “And to keep it safe, we need to keep the integrity of CFIA and its budget intact.”

Meanwhile, last month, the government quietly announced proposed regulation changes for slaughterhouses, which would allow for carcasses of animals killed off-site to be processed in slaughterhouses and turned into food for human consumption.

Since the proposed changes to regulations for slaughterhouses was revealed, Allen has been demanding the government take the idea off the table and rethink any changes.

“You cannot just march down a road with regulatory changes and say that CFIA will help you control those regulations when you cut people and money out of the agency. It’s just not possible.”

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said neither the cuts to financial and human resources nor the proposed changes will reduce food safety in any way.

As it stands, animals killed outside of a registered slaughterhouse cannot be processed for human consumption.

But the proposed changes, first published in the Canada Gazette, would allow for exemptions under certain circumstances — for example if an animal is too aggressive or injured to be transported to the registered slaughterhouse.

The updated regulations would require a veterinarian to inspect the animal before it was killed, confirm it couldn’t be safely transported to the slaughterhouse, verify it was fit for human consumption and sign off on the date and method of slaughter.

The government is selling its idea under the banner of reducing red tape, being more practical for farmers and offering more flexibility for slaughterhouse operators.

© Shaw Media Inc.
Andy Walker – peicanada.com

May 16, 2012

Cutbacks to the country’s food safety system are putting the lives of Canadians needlessly at risk, maintains Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.

The former national president of the National Farmers Union was one of the speakers during an opposition day motion on food safety recently in the House of Commons. He said the government has forgotten the painful lessons learned in the Ontario town of Walkerton in 2000. Seven people died and thousands became ill after e-coli entered the water supply.

“Walkerton proved that cuts to essential government services protecting the health and safety of Canadians are reckless and can cause Canadians to lose their lives,” Easter said. “It really is not too late for the government to pull back on some of the proposals it has in the budget and the budget implementation bill. There are very serious areas that need to be reconsidered.”

The federal government plans to cut $56.1 million from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Easter described CFIA as the “first line of defence for consumers in the country.” The veteran Island MP said the government defends the move by pointing to an increase of $51.1 million.

“I want to outline what that is really all about. It is $51.2 million to the CFIA, public health, and Health Canada all together,” he said. “That will not redress the seriousness of the $56 million cut and it will indeed undermine our food safety system.”

Easter reminded the House of Commons that under this government’s watch, 23 Canadians died of listeriosis when a Maple Leaf plant in Ontario became contaminated. He said the proposed cuts will see some of the measures put in place following a study into that tragedy rescinded or cut back.

He also expressed concern about changes to labeling issues that put the onus on finding problems in the hands of the consumer. Easter explained “The government has decided that in terms of labeling issues, the consumers can fend for themselves and if they find something they do not like or do not trust, they can call the company involved. Oversight of labeling should be a responsibility of the Government of Canada. It has the authority and expertise and has the power to tune up these companies that may abuse the labeling issue.”

CFIA is putting a tool on its website designed to help consumers determine the truth on labels. He said the customer will then have the option of going to the store and complaining. He added “What good is that going to do? Not a thing. It is the government abdicating its responsibility for labeling in Canada. That is what is really happening here.”

Easter suggested that flies in the face of statements made by Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz promising spot checks and audits. Since the budget was released, Easter said the union representing the CFIA workers has been more forthcoming with information than the department.

“In terms of cuts to the CFIA, a total of 308 positions will be lost, 247 indeterminate and 61 term positions,” Easter said. Just fewer than 200 of those are located in the National Capital Region. Technical positions are prominent are among the remaining cuts right across the country. The loss of some 100 inspector positions completely undoes the staffing action taken in the wake of the listeriosis crisis.”

While the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food insists that front-line inspectors will be unaffected by budget cuts, Easter said CFIA executives say, “I don’t know how you take 10% of your budget and not deal with the front line”, meaning that front line inspectors are actually affected by these cuts.

The Liberal MP said when CFIA officials were asked at the Standing Committee on Agriculture how many inspectors would be laid off, no actual number was produced.

“On the one hand we are talking about food that is in stores and imported foods and the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of Canadians that the supply of food is safe,” he said “On the other, we are talking about the responsibility to ensure that no actions by pests happen in Canada moving across the country, a great difficulty in terms of our food supply position.”

Easter said he is concerned six CFIA inspectors in Newfoundland who check vehicles for dirt that could carry golden nematode or potato wart are now being eliminated. He said “Generations of federal governments have accepted the responsibility that potato wart and golden nematode does not move off the province of Newfoundland through soil on vehicles to the mainland and create problems in the potato industry in my province, in Nova Scotia, in New Brunswick and in the rest of Canada. “

He went on to say “if we had golden nematode on Prince Edward Island, our number one industry, the potato industry, would be virtually destroyed. We would be shut out of the market around the world. This is a serious problem, and the government, through its cuts, is putting at risk industries on the mainland by not washing and inspecting those vehicles.”

He added other countries view food inspection as a service that is paid for out of the public purse rather than downloaded to the industry.

“On the one hand the Conservatives are putting at risk the industry and on the other they are making our food industry, our farming industry non-competitive in this country,” Easter concluded. “The government is going in a direction that is absolutely hair-brained and wrong-headed.”

© peicanada.com
Amy Minsky – Global News

May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — At the same time as Ottawa considers loosening regulations for slaughterhouses, the federal agency tasked with protecting food in Canada is having its budget slashed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency planning documents tabled in the House of Commons recently indicate the office will be seeing its budget drop $44.6 million over three years, falling to $677.3 million in 2014-15. The report also reveals the agency will lose the equivalent of 314 full-time employees during the same time-frame.

The Conservatives already indicated in the March budget that the CFIA was going to be dealing with less money, but they didn’t offer many hints as to where the savings would come from and which programs could be affected.

This month’s report on plans and priorities, however, suggest the food safety program — tasked with diminishing public health risks associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system — could take a hit of up to $18 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Government officials say funding for the food safety program could increase from those levels as Parliament approves proposed funding down the road, including millions laid out in Budget 2012.

Yet any cuts to food safety, opposition MPs say, are unacceptable and threaten the food Canadians consume.

“We’ve had an extremely good food safety program in this country, built up over the past number of years,” NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said in an interview. “And to keep it safe, we need to keep the integrity of CFIA and its budget intact.”

Meanwhile, last month, the government quietly announced proposed regulation changes for slaughterhouses, which would allow for carcasses of animals killed off-site to be processed in slaughterhouses and turned into food for human consumption.

Since the proposed changes to regulations for slaughterhouses was revealed, Allen has been demanding the government take the idea off the table and rethink any changes.

“You cannot just march down a road with regulatory changes and say that CFIA will help you control those regulations when you cut people and money out of the agency. It’s just not possible.”

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said neither the cuts to financial and human resources nor the proposed changes will reduce food safety in any way.

As it stands, animals killed outside of a registered slaughterhouse cannot be processed for human consumption.

But the proposed changes, first published in the Canada Gazette, would allow for exemptions under certain circumstances — for example if an animal is too aggressive or injured to be transported to the registered slaughterhouse.

The updated regulations would require a veterinarian to inspect the animal before it was killed, confirm it couldn’t be safely transported to the slaughterhouse, verify it was fit for human consumption and sign off on the date and method of slaughter.

The government is selling its idea under the banner of reducing red tape, being more practical for farmers and offering more flexibility for slaughterhouse operators.

© Shaw Media Inc.
Andy Walker – peicanada.com

May 16, 2012

Cutbacks to the country’s food safety system are putting the lives of Canadians needlessly at risk, maintains Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.

The former national president of the National Farmers Union was one of the speakers during an opposition day motion on food safety recently in the House of Commons. He said the government has forgotten the painful lessons learned in the Ontario town of Walkerton in 2000. Seven people died and thousands became ill after e-coli entered the water supply.

“Walkerton proved that cuts to essential government services protecting the health and safety of Canadians are reckless and can cause Canadians to lose their lives,” Easter said. “It really is not too late for the government to pull back on some of the proposals it has in the budget and the budget implementation bill. There are very serious areas that need to be reconsidered.”

The federal government plans to cut $56.1 million from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Easter described CFIA as the “first line of defence for consumers in the country.” The veteran Island MP said the government defends the move by pointing to an increase of $51.1 million.

“I want to outline what that is really all about. It is $51.2 million to the CFIA, public health, and Health Canada all together,” he said. “That will not redress the seriousness of the $56 million cut and it will indeed undermine our food safety system.”

Easter reminded the House of Commons that under this government’s watch, 23 Canadians died of listeriosis when a Maple Leaf plant in Ontario became contaminated. He said the proposed cuts will see some of the measures put in place following a study into that tragedy rescinded or cut back.

He also expressed concern about changes to labeling issues that put the onus on finding problems in the hands of the consumer. Easter explained “The government has decided that in terms of labeling issues, the consumers can fend for themselves and if they find something they do not like or do not trust, they can call the company involved. Oversight of labeling should be a responsibility of the Government of Canada. It has the authority and expertise and has the power to tune up these companies that may abuse the labeling issue.”

CFIA is putting a tool on its website designed to help consumers determine the truth on labels. He said the customer will then have the option of going to the store and complaining. He added “What good is that going to do? Not a thing. It is the government abdicating its responsibility for labeling in Canada. That is what is really happening here.”

Easter suggested that flies in the face of statements made by Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz promising spot checks and audits. Since the budget was released, Easter said the union representing the CFIA workers has been more forthcoming with information than the department.

“In terms of cuts to the CFIA, a total of 308 positions will be lost, 247 indeterminate and 61 term positions,” Easter said. Just fewer than 200 of those are located in the National Capital Region. Technical positions are prominent are among the remaining cuts right across the country. The loss of some 100 inspector positions completely undoes the staffing action taken in the wake of the listeriosis crisis.”

While the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food insists that front-line inspectors will be unaffected by budget cuts, Easter said CFIA executives say, “I don’t know how you take 10% of your budget and not deal with the front line”, meaning that front line inspectors are actually affected by these cuts.

The Liberal MP said when CFIA officials were asked at the Standing Committee on Agriculture how many inspectors would be laid off, no actual number was produced.

“On the one hand we are talking about food that is in stores and imported foods and the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of Canadians that the supply of food is safe,” he said “On the other, we are talking about the responsibility to ensure that no actions by pests happen in Canada moving across the country, a great difficulty in terms of our food supply position.”

Easter said he is concerned six CFIA inspectors in Newfoundland who check vehicles for dirt that could carry golden nematode or potato wart are now being eliminated. He said “Generations of federal governments have accepted the responsibility that potato wart and golden nematode does not move off the province of Newfoundland through soil on vehicles to the mainland and create problems in the potato industry in my province, in Nova Scotia, in New Brunswick and in the rest of Canada. “

He went on to say “if we had golden nematode on Prince Edward Island, our number one industry, the potato industry, would be virtually destroyed. We would be shut out of the market around the world. This is a serious problem, and the government, through its cuts, is putting at risk industries on the mainland by not washing and inspecting those vehicles.”

He added other countries view food inspection as a service that is paid for out of the public purse rather than downloaded to the industry.

“On the one hand the Conservatives are putting at risk the industry and on the other they are making our food industry, our farming industry non-competitive in this country,” Easter concluded. “The government is going in a direction that is absolutely hair-brained and wrong-headed.”

© peicanada.com
Andy Walker – peicanada.com

May 16, 2012

Cutbacks to the country’s food safety system are putting the lives of Canadians needlessly at risk, maintains Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.

The former national president of the National Farmers Union was one of the speakers during an opposition day motion on food safety recently in the House of Commons. He said the government has forgotten the painful lessons learned in the Ontario town of Walkerton in 2000. Seven people died and thousands became ill after e-coli entered the water supply.

“Walkerton proved that cuts to essential government services protecting the health and safety of Canadians are reckless and can cause Canadians to lose their lives,” Easter said. “It really is not too late for the government to pull back on some of the proposals it has in the budget and the budget implementation bill. There are very serious areas that need to be reconsidered.”

The federal government plans to cut $56.1 million from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Easter described CFIA as the “first line of defence for consumers in the country.” The veteran Island MP said the government defends the move by pointing to an increase of $51.1 million.

“I want to outline what that is really all about. It is $51.2 million to the CFIA, public health, and Health Canada all together,” he said. “That will not redress the seriousness of the $56 million cut and it will indeed undermine our food safety system.”

Easter reminded the House of Commons that under this government’s watch, 23 Canadians died of listeriosis when a Maple Leaf plant in Ontario became contaminated. He said the proposed cuts will see some of the measures put in place following a study into that tragedy rescinded or cut back.

He also expressed concern about changes to labeling issues that put the onus on finding problems in the hands of the consumer. Easter explained “The government has decided that in terms of labeling issues, the consumers can fend for themselves and if they find something they do not like or do not trust, they can call the company involved. Oversight of labeling should be a responsibility of the Government of Canada. It has the authority and expertise and has the power to tune up these companies that may abuse the labeling issue.”

CFIA is putting a tool on its website designed to help consumers determine the truth on labels. He said the customer will then have the option of going to the store and complaining. He added “What good is that going to do? Not a thing. It is the government abdicating its responsibility for labeling in Canada. That is what is really happening here.”

Easter suggested that flies in the face of statements made by Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz promising spot checks and audits. Since the budget was released, Easter said the union representing the CFIA workers has been more forthcoming with information than the department.

“In terms of cuts to the CFIA, a total of 308 positions will be lost, 247 indeterminate and 61 term positions,” Easter said. Just fewer than 200 of those are located in the National Capital Region. Technical positions are prominent are among the remaining cuts right across the country. The loss of some 100 inspector positions completely undoes the staffing action taken in the wake of the listeriosis crisis.”

While the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food insists that front-line inspectors will be unaffected by budget cuts, Easter said CFIA executives say, “I don’t know how you take 10% of your budget and not deal with the front line”, meaning that front line inspectors are actually affected by these cuts.

The Liberal MP said when CFIA officials were asked at the Standing Committee on Agriculture how many inspectors would be laid off, no actual number was produced.

“On the one hand we are talking about food that is in stores and imported foods and the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of Canadians that the supply of food is safe,” he said “On the other, we are talking about the responsibility to ensure that no actions by pests happen in Canada moving across the country, a great difficulty in terms of our food supply position.”

Easter said he is concerned six CFIA inspectors in Newfoundland who check vehicles for dirt that could carry golden nematode or potato wart are now being eliminated. He said “Generations of federal governments have accepted the responsibility that potato wart and golden nematode does not move off the province of Newfoundland through soil on vehicles to the mainland and create problems in the potato industry in my province, in Nova Scotia, in New Brunswick and in the rest of Canada. “

He went on to say “if we had golden nematode on Prince Edward Island, our number one industry, the potato industry, would be virtually destroyed. We would be shut out of the market around the world. This is a serious problem, and the government, through its cuts, is putting at risk industries on the mainland by not washing and inspecting those vehicles.”

He added other countries view food inspection as a service that is paid for out of the public purse rather than downloaded to the industry.

“On the one hand the Conservatives are putting at risk the industry and on the other they are making our food industry, our farming industry non-competitive in this country,” Easter concluded. “The government is going in a direction that is absolutely hair-brained and wrong-headed.”

©
Postmedia News

June 2, 2012

Canada’s food inspection system is getting a major overhaul as the federal government gets set to move to a single inspection approach across all commodities.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released Friday its vision to modernize food inspection, making the case for getting rid of eight separate programs for dairy, eggs, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, imported and manufactured food, maple, meat and processed products.

Each program uses different risk management systems, inspection methods and enforcement approaches, and CFIA says it’s time to bring consistency to food inspection in Canada with mandatory preventive controls for all foods across the supply chain.

© Postmedia News
Amy Minsk – Global News

May 23, 2012

OTTAWA – A federal bureaucrat billed taxpayers for more than $100,000 in travel and accommodation expenses during the year he spent looking for ways to trim government spending.

Bill Teeter, who works for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency out of Guelph, Ont., travelled to Ottawa 45 times between January 18 and December 22, 2011, racking up bills ranging from $1,015.31 to $3,424.28 for each trip.

Teeter had a team of 14 people in Ottawa, working with secret documents that could neither be transferred over networks nor transported from Ottawa, a spokesman for the CFIA said.

The team was tasked with determining the best ways the agency could use their resources.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for protecting food in the country.

In the lead-up to the March 2012 budget, every federal department and agency was forced to look for areas to cut spending and present different cost-reduction scenarios to the Conservatives.

Budget 2012 revealed cuts across the board, with the CFIA being hit with $56.1 million in ongoing cuts.

Unions representing CFIA workers have said they anticipate losing approximately 100 inspectors because of the cuts.

In the year Teeter spent looking for efficiencies, taxpayers footed a $100,511.99 bill, which included airfare, ground transportation, accommodation, and meals and incidentals.

Teeter also claimed $446.57 in hospitality expenses in 2011, shopping at Costco, A & W, a local shawarma restaurant, Canadian Tire and Boston Pizza to host three meals with government officials.

A request for information from Teeter was redirected to a spokesman for the agency, who said the veteran bureaucrat was asked to take on the one year assignment on account of his vast and varied experience in the field.

“Given his long experience at the agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada … he was uniquely positioned to lead our business transformation initiative,” Tim O’Connor wrote in an email.

The official Opposition, however, says there is no justification for these expenses, especially in the context of reducing the deficit.

“I don’t think the irony is lost on Canadians,” said NDP MP Peter Julian. “The minister has made a mistake authorizing these trips… Ultimately, the minister is responsible for the kinds of costs we’re seeing out of his department at a time when they’re cutting back on essential safety components around the CFIA.”

The Liberal Treasury Board critic John McCallum, similarly dismayed, said the spending was “ridiculous.”

“Travelling 45 weeks out of 52? Virtually every working week of the year is too much,” he said. “I think he’s breaking the spirit of restraint, but I wouldn’t put the blame on him. I put the blame on the minister in charge of finding these expenditure reductions.”

A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said these types of staffing decisions at the agency are made independently of the minister. The minister has, however, instructed the CFIA to ensure all costs are reasonable and justifiable, the spokeswoman said, although she did not address these specific costs.

The unions aren’t biting onto the minister’s message – $100,000 could pay for an inspector or other workers to help safeguard Canadians for one year, said Bob Kingston, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s agriculture union.

Teeter’s experience with the department, according to O’Connor, spans 29 years and saw him in several positions at different levels with different responsibilities and specialties.

Because the assignment lasted one year, it would have been “impractical” to relocate Teeter’s family to Ottawa, O’Connor said.

Further, he said, the fact that Teeter’s team was dealing with confidential documents meant he had to meet face-to-face with his colleagues.

Teeter’s expenses are available on the proactive disclosure pages of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website.

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