For immediate release
Safe Food or “Fiscal Responsibility”?
OTTAWA, July 24, 2009 – The release earlier this week of the Report of the Independent Investigator into the 2008 Listeriosis Outbreak clearly demonstrates just how far Canada’s public health infrastructure has been allowed to stray from its once-sterling food safety record, according to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents approximately 600 veterinarians employed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“We’ve pointed out on a number of occasions how the government’s obsession with “fiscal responsibility”, deregulation, self-regulation and contracting out services that should be performed by government professionals to the private sector can put the health and safety of Canadians at risk” commented Gary Corbett, President of the Institute. “Tragically, it took a disaster of this magnitude to focus attention on these critical issues“.
Yet it appears that political expediency and ideology continue to take precedence over good judgment in the government’s decision-making processes. A survey conducted in the fall of 2008 clearly indicated that an overwhelming majority of Canadians are opposed to the government’s plans to cut critical food safety programs and expand industry self-policing. Initiatives such as shifting from full-time meat inspection to an oversight role, the ongoing Strategic Review of key federal institutions and cuts to federal science programs continue to leave Canadians vulnerable to future health and safety crises.
“The safety of citizens must always take precedence over budgetary considerations” added Corbett. “This government must change its priorities, implement a coherent public health strategy, and ensure that adequate resources are once again committed to our nation’s health and scientific infrastructures, which were once the envy of the world”.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents 57,000 professionals and scientists across Canada’s public sector.
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For further information: Pierre Villon (613) 228-6310 extension 2228
(613) 794-9369 (cell)