The Hill Times, August 4th, 2008

Canada's food safety remains our top priority: CFIA's Evans


Source of Article:



Re: "Delegating food inspection to private industry a huge cost to taxpayers," (The Hill Times, July 28, p. 9). The health and safety of Canadians is, and will always remain, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's highest priority.

In 2007, the CFIA undertook a strategic review to ensure our resources are allocated to where there is the greatest need to ensure the health and safety of Canadians and to provide the best value for taxpayers.

There was no five-per-cent reduction in funding for the CFIA as a result of this exercise. The savings identified in the review were redirected to food safety to support Canada's Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan.

The 2008 budget allocated more than $113-million for this action plan which will result in more inspectors and increased surveillance of domestic and imported foods. We continue to modernize our system to better protect Canadians, enhance the safety and reliability of consumer, food, and health products, and ensure we maintain one of the most stringent safety systems in the world.

We are continually modernizing and improving our inspection systems to meet the challenges of a changing environment whether it is emerging food safety risks or changes to technology or the marketplace.

There has been no reduction of inspectors. In fact, the number has risen to 3,020 by March 2008 from 2,820 in 2006. The number of inspectors will continue to grow under that food and consumer safety action plan.

As always, before any changes are phased in, CFIA will consult with stakeholders on the implementation of program changes. Any proposal that would change our regulatory system would be based on international standards to provide the highest level of trust of Canadians and our trading partners.

Any changes to the federal inspection system will always include strong enforcement and compliance action by the CFIA to make sure industry meets the requirement to produce safe food. Food safety is and always will be the CFIA's top priority.

With respect to the employee referred to in the article, public servants sign a formal declaration that clearly states that if individuals fail to protect the security of information assets this may constitute a violation of several laws and policies and can result in disciplinary action. The evidence gathered as the result of a thorough investigation supported the decisions taken.

It should also be noted that the CFIA has the necessary mechanisms in place that allow employees to voice their concerns over a variety of issues. Options include talking to a manager/supervisor, contacting the CFIA's integrity officer or the public sector integrity commissioner. The CFIA recognizes, respects and supports such rights and associated processes.

Dr. Brian Evans

Executive vice-president

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Ottawa, Ont.

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