Through media publicity and lobbying of politicians, the Agriculture Union has persistently brought forward evidence that food safety and security is being compromised by staffing and funding cuts at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Now, we are pleased to hear that Health Minister Jane Philpott will be addressing these shortfalls with senior CFIA management.
The Minister’s probe appears to have been triggered by media reports of the continuing controversy surrounding cuts to domestic meat inspections in Northern Alberta processing plants.
Early in 2015, our Union disclosed internal CFIA documents showing the Agency had admitted the end of daily plant inspections had compromised acceptable standards.
The documents also proved that former Conservative Health Minister Rona Ambrose misled Parliament in claiming that our Union’s revelations of inspection shortages were “irresponsible and inaccurate”. Ambrose, accompanied by senior CFIA officials, also deliberately misrepresented the actual situation in testimony before a House of Commons Committee.
Last month, nearly two years later, daily inspections in those plants were ordered reinstated. However, it remains to be seen if there are yet enough on-the-ground inspectors to meet the need.
Philpott told reporters on November 1 that “the health and safety of Canadians is of utmost importance and the role of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is to make sure that Canadians have safe access to the foods that they eat.
“I will certainly be working with my officials at CFIA to look into this particular matter and make sure that the appropriate inspections regime is in place,” the Minister asserted.