OTTAWA — In keeping with the recent budget, the Canadian government has announced plans to lay off at least 100 food-safety inspectors nationwide.
The news isn’t being met kindly.
“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,” said Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada as quoted by the Edmonton Journal.
Although, 70 per cent of the $5.2 billion in operational savings that was announced in the budget are to be implemented over three years, according to the paper, 18 per cent of the food-inspection agency’s scientific and analytical group have already received notices. The food-inspection agency is expected to lay off 308 employees, including veterinarians who inspect and certify animals and meat products.
Critics are concerned Canada may see more fraudulent meat labels, increased incidence of foodborne diseases and another outbreak, such as the deadly 2008 listeriosis outbreak, after which the government hired more inspectors.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz disagrees with the critics. “Our government has made real and significant investments to ensure the safety of Canada’s food supply,” he said in a statement. “Canadian families can be assured that the safety of our food supply will not be affected as federal departments and agencies look for ways to be more efficient and more financially prudent with taxpayer’s dollars.”