PI Review Update

After much effort and support from our members working in Inspection at CFIA, we are nearing the completion of the Primary Products (PI) Review and its resulting mass grievances filed in 2000 and 2007.

New process for designating essential services can cause confusion

As part of every negotiations round for a new contract, all bargaining units must have essential service positions ‘designated’ as being essential to the ‘safety and security of the public’. No legal strike can take place without one and employees occupying those positions must remain on the job in the event of a walkout.

PSAC pre-election advertising campaign highlights food safety issue

A likely million drivers who took to Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway during the recent Pan-American Games were treated to a sight of an arresting billboard – an image of blood draining from a maple leaf along with an exhortation to Vote to Stop the Cuts. The vivid display was part of a major campaign launched by our bargaining agent, the Public Service, to focus public attention on the major damage the Harper government has inflicted on public services. The Vote to Stop the Cuts campaign includes billboards, posters, radio ads and targeted Web and social media content. It encourages Canadians to cast a ballot in the next federal election for candidates who oppose further cuts and seek to restore vital public services. Food safety is one of the half-dozen featured issues of the PSAC campaign. Other topics are support for veterans, border security, search and rescue, employment Insurance and environmental protection. Information on this comprehensive public campaign, including the specific ad on food safety, can be viewed...

Inspection understaffing threatens summer BBQ season

A backyard or cottage BBQ is one of the great Canadian pleasures that banish thoughts of frigid Februaries. However, BBQers in Ontario and across the country should be on their guard as chronic understaffing in food inspection could well impact the safety of the meat and poultry they’re throwing on that griddle. This high-risk situation was revealed in a staffing survey released by the Agriculture Union at a July 28 Toronto news conference. It was based on a report of the inspection situation by frontline Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff and the CFIA’s own 2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities. The survey found Toronto area inspection teams frequently operate with only two-thirds of the required number of slaughter inspectors. Central and South Western Ontario regions are also operating with fewer than the number of inspectors needed to ensure compliance with safety requirements. “In the rush to cut the current slaughter inspection program no appropriate assessment of the risk associated with their new program has not been conducted. “In the meantime, the Agency is allowing the current slaughter inspectorate to atrophy, refusing to fill vacant positions and turning a blind eye when meat slaughter establishments operate with short-handed inspection teams. “It’s a recipe for disaster. These are frighteningly similar to the circumstances that led to the Maple Leaf listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 unsuspecting people.” The answer, Kingston says, is for the Harper the government to increase food safety inspection resources and place them where they are needed on the frontline to allow the CFIA to meet its inspection requirements. The text of the Agriculture Union news release can be...

Bar-b-quers beware

Every meat slaughter inspection group in Toronto and throughout Ontario is working short-handed, often operating below staffing levels required to ensure meat packing houses are following all safety requirements.