CFIA spending freeze compromises food safety



    OTTAWA, Dec. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - A spending and hiring freeze at the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency is making a dangerous situation worse when it
comes to food safety and inspection, according to the Agriculture Union - PSAC
which represents Canada's food inspectors.
    The Union released a recent memo from CFIA senior management which
declares the agency will "defer, scale down, or cancel all non-essential
staffing, training, conferences, hospitality, professional services, travel
and overtime", among other measures.
    "Not a single additional food inspector has been hired by the agency
since before the listerosis crisis. The government has failed to deliver a
promised investigation into the food poisoning deaths of 20 Canadians. Now the
freeze on hiring, overtime and training will lock-in gaps that allow tainted
food to reach Canadians for at least the duration of the freeze," says
Agriculture Union President Bob Kingston.
    A shortage of inspectors means food processing plants across the country
continue to be short staffed. There hasn't been any adjustment in staffing
levels anywhere in the country except the contaminated Maple Leaf plant in
Toronto which is still not fully operational. Adjustment of staffing to levels
that will ensure appropriate inspection of processed foods will be impossible
under the freeze.
    "CFIA is running out of money to pay people. They're already
short-staffed and vacant positions aren't being filled. It's so bad that the
agency cannot ensure adequate inspection and meet its contractual obligations
for paid leave, sick leave and training," says Kingston.
    The freeze on training means that the food inspectorate will not been
fully trained in the new Compliance Verification System (CVS).
    "CVS is a new protocol which gives more self-policing powers to the
industry and has emboldened some companies to deny access to inspectors,
preventing them from doing their jobs. Lack of training of inspectors in CVS
will only magnify these and other problems," Kingston says.
    "CFIA has great plans to improve the food safety system but they will die
on the vine without new resources to beef up the system. These plans are
simply not sustainable without new money to fund them," Kingston says.

    The Agriculture Union - PSAC represents federal food inspectors and its
President Bob Kingston is an Inspection Supervisor on leave from the Canadian
Food Inspection Agency. Before going on a leave of absence to serve as an
elected union officer, Kingston spent 25 years as a CFIA and Agriculture
Canada inspector, including 15 years as a multi-commodity supervisor, a senior
level inspector position.

    --------------------------

    From: VP FAIT
    To: All Managers
    Subject: Spending Restraint Measures

    As you are aware, the government is facing severe fiscal restraints and
has asked Departments and Agencies to curb all non-essential spending. As
well, this year, the Agency has faced many challenges that have put increasing
demands on our resources. As a result of these factors, this email will
confirm that the following measures are being put in place effective
immediately:

    Defer, scale down, or cancel all non-essential staffing, training,
conferences, hospitality, professional services, travel and overtime;
    Review and reduce, where possible, spending plans for the remainder of
this fiscal year;
    Elevate level of authority require to initiate spending: all transactions
will require the signature of the current delegated manager and of his/her
superior; acquisition card purchase of a value greater than $500 (GST
included) must be supported by written authorization from the delegated
manager;
    Transfer non-pay to pay: as much as possible, transfer non-pay free
balance to cover current pay requirements to year-end.

    We will review these measures at year-end. More details will be provided
by Financial Services to your Branch Finance Committee representative.




For further information:

For further information: Jim Thompson, (613) 447-9592;
www.foodsafetyfirst.ca

Organization Profile

Agriculture Union

More on this organization


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890