Conservatives to kill meat inspection in Manitoba



    WINNIPEG, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - If elected, a federal Conservative
government plans to stop delivering provincial meat inspection programs in
Manitoba leaving local consumers exposed to the risk of unsafe meat.
    The plan is revealed in a secret Treasury Board of Canada decision
record, dated May 6, 2008, documenting the acceptance of a proposal concerning
"Provincial Meat Slaughter Establishments (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British
Columbia)" which calls for the "elimination of federal delivery of provincial
meat inspection programs."
    "Meat produced in provincially registered facilities in Manitoba would
not be inspected by anyone under this plan," says Bob Kingston, President of
the Agriculture Union - Public Service Alliance of Canada, which has launched
www.foodsafetyfirst.ca, a tool for voters to email their local candidates
during the federal election to urge them to make a commitment to food safety.
The campaign is being organized jointly with the the Professional Institute of
the Public Service Canada.
    The Treasury Board decision record says that following approval of a
detailed implementation plan, "including risk mitigation and communications
strategies," the cuts will come into force.
    In Manitoba, the federal government delivers provincial meat inspection
programs ensuring provincially registered slaughter facilities meet sanitation
and other safety regulations. There are more than 30 provincially registered
meat establishments in Manitoba that produce everything from beef to bison,
ostrich to turkey and whose products cannot be shipped outside the province.
    "As we've seen during recent weeks, the federal government should be
increasing food inspection, not cutting it," Kingston says.
    The government of Stephen Harper has steadily cut funding for food safety
programs and shifted responsibility for safety assurance to the food companies
themselves.
    According to current Treasury Board of Canada forecasts, funding for food
safety programs will have declined by almost 30% from $359 million in 2006/07
to $254 million in 2010/11 under Mr. Harper's watch.
    Meanwhile, the government plans to expand industry self-policing of
safety. The same Treasury Board record also reveals plans to: "shift from
full-time Canadian Food Inspection Agency meat inspection presence to an
oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs
and to manage key risks."
    The Food Safety First campaign is urging federal candidates to endorse a
four-point commitment to food safety:

    
    - Hire 1000 additional inspectors and veterinarians to improve industry
      compliance with safety regulations.
    - Place a moratorium on industry self-policing.
    - Remove obstacles that prevent CFIA inspectors and vets from taking
      immediate action when they encounter potential public health risks in
      the plants they inspect.
    - Restore the system of public audit reports which were cancelled under
      pressure from the meat industry.
    

    "Voters can visit www.foodsafetyfirst.ca to send a message asking their
candidates to make a commitment to food safety. When the candidates are asking
voters for their support, there's no better time to ask the candidates to make
this commitment," Kingston said.

    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.




For further information:

For further information: Denis Boivin, PSAC Communications, (613)
222-4617 (cellular)


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