LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Having read the recent Letter on food safety from Liberal MP Lise St-Denis published in local papers, I wanted to take the opportunity to respond.
Our Conservative Government is committed to ensuring Canada’s food safety system provides consumers with the protection they expect and deserve.
Ms. St-Denis and her opposition colleagues continue to shamefully make false claims that decisions made in Budget 2012 – and to the Agency’s overall modernization agenda – are intended to reduce Canada’s investment in food safety or somehow diminish the Agency’s role in it. This is completely and utterly false.
As we all know, the risks associated with the food supply are constantly evolving, and the changes being made by the CFIA will allow the Agency to focus its resources where they are needed most. The CFIA has not and will not reduce staff or cut programs that would in any way put the health and safety of Canadians at risk.
In fact, as CFIA President George Da Pont explained recently, the CFIA is taking unprecedented steps to further strengthen Canada's food safety system and better protect Canadian families. The Economic Action Plan 2012 reaffirms the strong commitment to food safety with renewed funding for key food safety activities of $51M over two years. This is in addition to a significant investment of $100M in Budget 2011 to invest in inspection modernization, which includes inspector training, tools and technology, and science capacity. As well, the CFIA received investments in the four previous budgets for food safety which enabled the agency to hire new inspectors and to enhance Canada's food safety systems. Since 2006, the government has provided the investments for the CFIA to hire 733 net new inspection staff, including 170 meat inspectors.
The CFIA is not leaving consumers to "fend for themselves," as has been claimed. Far from it. Contrary to what has been reported, consumer complaints and concerns will continue to be fully investigated. Changes being implemented will not affect the agency's core health and safety mandate.
For example, changes in some of the CFIA's labelling programs, such as pre-approving the labels on meat products and the development of an online label self-assessment tool, are not related to the safety of the food. These changes will assist industry in getting products to market faster and allow the CFIA to focus on the verification and inspection activities that do keep the food supply system in Canada one of the safest in the world.
The agency will not reduce food safety programs and services but will be making adjustments to some non-food safety programs. Nearly half of the CFIA's savings are from internal efficiencies that will allow the CFIA to operate with less corporate overhead while continuing to deliver important services to Canadians.
All products produced or sold in Canada will continue to meet our high food safety standards. Protecting the health and safety of Canadian food remains the Government’s top priority.