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.


For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592