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Food inspectors' union concerned about food safety in Canada

Worry budget and staffing cuts will make it difficult to monitor companies

The union representing federal food inspectors says they're worried budget and staffing cuts may impact food safety in Canada.

Public Service Alliance of Canada spokesman Bob Kingston says there are not enough inspectors working in meat and poultry slaughter facilities in Ontario to make sure companies are adhering to all safety requirements.

Kingston – who heads PSAC's Agriculture Union – says the problem is particularly worrisome in the Toronto area where a union survey indicates inspector staffing is as much as 39% below what is required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Kingston says he is concerned that the 2015-16 CFIA Report on Plans and Priorities indicates the meat and poultry inspection program will lose almost $35 million in funding and 273 jobs by 2018.

A spokesman for Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Tuesday in an email that 200 frontline food safety inspectors are to be hired and the government has provided the CFIA with the highest funding levels in Canadian history.

The CFIA did not respond to requests for comment.

Kingston maintains there are not enough inspectors working to make sure slaughter establishments "are meeting all of the requirements needed to produce safe meat.''

"With the current number of inspectors on the line, it is impossible for them to ensure safe product'' Kingston said.

But health ministry spokesman Michael Bolkenius noted in an email that the Conference Board of Canada rates Canada's food safety system "No. 1 against 17 OECD countries including the U.S.''

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