Strengthening Food Safety
Ottawa Journal (November 26 – November 30, 2021)
Our Government is working to improve the safety of the food Canadians eat. This is something we’ve been working on since 2006, long before recent incidents brought the issue to the forefront of public attention. We understand how important this issue is, and this is why we’ve taken a series of measures since we took office to improve food safety. It's also why we are working on additional steps.
Perhaps one of the most important measures we’ve taken is to increase the number of food inspectors. Since 2006, our Government has hired over 700 additional inspectors, including 170 additional meat inspectors. This was a strong response to years of neglect under previous governments and unfortunately these increases were opposed by the opposition parties, who voted against them.
We’ve also increased funding for the protection of food safety numerous times since 2006. In our last budget alone, we increased funding for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) by $52 million. We believe that, even as we bring the budget back into balance, increasing spending on food safety should be a priority.
Although our Government has already taken action, recent events confirm that there’s still more to do. We already had a bill before Parliament to strengthen food safety – in fact, we introduced our bill in the Senate on June 7 and it had its Third (and final) Reading in the House of Commons on November 20th. The Safe Food for Canadians Act will take the necessary next steps to keep our food and our families safe.
Specifically, our bill will make inspection more consistent, improving oversight of food production. It will create higher penalties for activities that jeopardize the health and safety of Canadians, including significantly tougher fines – allowing courts to impose twice or, in special circumstances, even more, the previous maximum. It will strengthen controls on imported food, to protect Canadians. It will allow certification of Canadian food for export, to open new markets and create jobs at home. Finally, our bill will also improve food traceability.
This last measure means that it will be easier to trace the origin of a food that poses a problem. This will make recalls more effective, giving consumers greater assurance on the quality of food on store shelves. It also includes a ban on reselling food that has been recalled.
Our Government will continue to take strong action to improve the safety of the food Canadians eat. We are working to support more inspections, a better funded CFIA, and tough penalties for those who take risks with the health of Canadians.