Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

February 10, 2012 12:19 ET

Food Safety: Clearly Not a Priority for the Federal Government

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 10, 2012) - The upcoming elimination of two food inspection positions in an Ontario poultry facility is symptomatic of how the federal government is increasingly out of touch with Canadians' priorities, according to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

Over the past few years, under the "Poultry Rejection" program, the inspection and condemnation of sick birds has been increasingly transferred from Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) veterinarians to the producers' own employees. Under this system, government veterinarians are no longer in attendance during the selection and slaughter of some lots and there is no means of ensuring the accuracy of the process when they are not present. This approach compromises the safety of the national food chain, and Canadians are right to ask themselves if the government really has their best interests at heart.

"It looks like nothing has been learned from the 2008 listeriosis crisis that caused the tragic deaths of some two dozen Canadians", commented Gary Corbett, President of the Professional Institute. "While we respect the integrity of Canada's poultry producers and their employees, the reality is that only experienced veterinarians are qualified to determine whether or not a meat product is suitable for our tables".

The decision to cut veterinary staff is symptomatic of what is currently happening throughout Canada's public service, as the government looks to any and all means to control the deficit. Valuable health, safety and scientific programs and positions are being eliminated or reduced to the point where the well-being and security of Canadians can no longer be protected. Furthermore, the CFIA itself is currently arguing in judicial review that the very positions being eliminated are essential to the health and safety of the Canadian public, and that therefore these veterinarians should not be allowed to participate in any strike action.

"The government's ongoing plans to cut critical programs and expand industry self-policing leaves Canadians vulnerable to future crises. Unfortunately, from its recent statements it appears that it will choose to place fiscal considerations ahead of all others in the upcoming budget. The government really needs to reconsider its priorities and align them with those of all Canadians before it's too late", concluded Corbett.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is a national union representing some 60,000 professionals and scientists across Canada's public sector.

Contact Information

  • Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
    Pierre Villon
    613) 228-6310 extension 2228
    613-794-9369 (cell)