Ottawa – CFIA cuts to food safety programs and plans to overhaul food inspection are being withheld from the public amid conflicting statements from the Minister and his senior executives about the cuts and changes, according to the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents federal food inspectors.
While Minister Ritz insists that frontline inspectors will be unaffected by budget cuts, CFIA executives say “I don’t know how you take 10% of your budget and not deal with the front line”.
Ottawa – The federal government is stripping as many as 100 food safety inspectors from its ranks as a result of budget cuts, more than reversing increases to the inspection force put in place in response to the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis outbreak which killed 23 Canadians.
“This decision will make the inspector shortage worse, not better. And because the government has failed to consult its own inspectors, they are cutting food safety blindly with little understanding of the consequences,” says Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents federal food inspectors.
Vancouver – The union representing federal food safety inspectors is warning consumers that significant cuts to the public service expected in next month’s budget may reduce the inspection of imported foods to less than two per cent of all products examined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
And the Agriculture Union, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says a planned Conservative government cut of 10% of all ministries could also reduce the number of food safety staff to levels lower than when the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis crisis hit in 2008, killing 23 consumers and making hundreds seriously ill.
Ottawa – The Canada School of the Public Service is hiding an internal audit of its language training program that could show its decision to lay-off 190 language teachers is a bad economic move. Treasury Board President Tony Clement, the Minister responsible, should place the School’s plans on hold until it can be determined if the lay-offs are justified, according to the teacher’s union.
The School promised Parliament in its 2011/12 Report on Plans and Priorities that it “will perform an audit of language training”, but has never disclosed the findings of the audit. Currently, the School is planning to abandon the delivery of language training within the federal government completely to the private sector.
The federal government has quietly announced plans to cancel important food safety initiatives put in place to shore up a weak inspection system and to address a chronic shortage of inspectors after the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis outbreak killed 23 Canadians in 2008.
The CFIA’s latest plan declares that “resources will sunset for Listeriosis, and for increased frequency of food inspection in meat processing establishments” in 2013-14. This plan comes to light amid news that the CFIA is embarking on an extensive review of its regulations to make them more friendly to industry.