This would be typical of Conservative policies. Cut down on government regulation because regulation is bad, plus it costs money! This is news the government probably does not want out in the open right now and that is why there is no comment from the party and the Minister is too busy trying to keep his job to acknowledge even more problems on his watch.
Conservatives to pull out of provincial meat inspection programs if elected: union
Last Updated: Friday, September 19, 2008 8:26 AM CT
The Canadian Press
The federal Conservatives are planning to pull out of meat inspection programs in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia if they are re-elected Oct. 14, a public sector union warned Thursday.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents 165,000 civil servants, says a secret Treasury Board of Canada report from May of this year proposes cutting federal delivery of provincial meat inspection programs to save about $3 million.
Patty Ducharme, the union's national executive vice-president, said the federal government administers meat inspection programs that oversee sanitation and other safety regulations in the three provinces.
If a re-elected Tory government cuts the programs, consumers will be exposed to the risk of unsafe meat, Ducharme said. In Manitoba alone, there are more than 30 provincially-registered plants that produce everything from beef to bison.
"Meat produced in provincially-registered facilities would not be inspected," Ducharme said. "Under this type of a scenario, consumers would have to count on the fact that producers would produce their products in a fashion that ensures their safety."
Union calling for 1,000 new inspectors
Ducharme suggested food safety should be an election issue, given the national outbreak of listeriosis stemming from tainted meat from a Maple Leaf plant in Toronto. The outbreak, which has been linked to 17 deaths, shows Ottawa should be increasing food inspection instead of cutting it, she added.
"There is a significant role for government oversight in food production facilities. We want to see people vote for a safe food system."
The union is calling on all parties to commit to hiring 1,000 additional inspectors and veterinarians and to end any self-policing by the industry.
A copy of the Treasury Board report, released by the union, says that the elimination of federally delivered provincial meat inspection programs would have to be discussed and approved by cabinet. It also calls for detailed "risk mitigation and communications strategies."
Deirdra McCracken, a Conservative party spokeswoman, declined to comment and referred calls to the federal Agriculture Department.
But officials at the office of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, who was under fire Thursday for making jokes about the deadly listeriosis outbreak, did not immediately return phone calls.
However, Manitoba Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said she had not been informed of plans to scrap the meat-inspection program.
"No one has said to me that these inspections are not going to continue," she told CBC News on Thursday.
"The federal government has to give us notice of 12 months if they are going to reduce the inspections that they are providing us, and that is not happening."
© The Canadian Press, 2008