Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz, and Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, have announced that the government will invest $75 million in Canada's food safety system and act on all 57 recommendations made by independent investigator, Sheila Weatherill.
"The Government of Canada's highest priority is the safety of Canadians," said Minister Ritz. "We are making significant investments to hire more inspectors; update technologies and protocols; and, improve communication so that Canadians have the information they need to protect their families."
"Our government continues to be committed to protecting and improving the health and safety of Canadians," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Nothing can be more fundamental to the health and safety of our families as the safety of the foods we serve them, which is why we continue to take the steps necessary to improve Canada's food safety system and ensure Canadians have the information they need to protect themselves from foodborne illnesses."
The new investments being announced on Friday (11 September) will improve the Government's ability to prevent, detect and respond to future foodborne illness outbreaks. Among other improvements, the Government will:
- hire 166 new food safety staff with 70 focusing on ready-to-eat-meat facilities;
- provide 24/7 availability of health risk assessment teams to improve support to food safety investigations;
- improve coordination among federal and provincial departments and agencies;
- improve communications to vulnerable populations before and during a foodborne illness outbreak;
- improve tracking of potential foodborne illness outbreaks through a national surveillance system;
- improve detection methods for Listeria monocytogenes and other hazards in food to reduce testing time and enable more rapid response during food safety investigations, as well as expanding the Government's ability to do additional Listeria testing; and
- initiate a third-party audit to make sure Canada's food inspection system has the right resources dedicated to the right priorities.
This investment builds on the Government's 2008 commitment of $113 million for food safety. Already, the Government has made significant changes to Canada's Listeria management strategy, including making environmental testing and reporting mandatory in ready-to-eat meat plants.